Posted on: October 28, 2010 6:14 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
A week of intrigue over the identity of Penn State 's starting quarterback for their critical match-up with Michigan has apparently come to a close. Multiple outlets, including PSU Scout site FightOnState.com , are reporting that redshirt sophomore walk-on Matt McGloin has received the majority of first-team reps in practice this week and will start against the Wolverines.
A crucial late-season home game against a Big Ten opponent is hardly the preferred venure for handing a walk-on quarterback the first start of his career, but an injury to regular starter Robert Bolden and the continued struggles of dual-threat option Kevin Newsome (also reportedly dealing with a nagging injury) have apparently forced Joe Paterno 's hand.
If there's a silver lining for the Nittany Lions, it's that they'd be hard-pressed to find a more accommodating defense for McGloin to wet his feet against; Rich Rodriguez 's young and injury-wracked crew ranks a miserable 117th in the country in pass defense and 93rd in sacks. If McGloin can't find his footing at home, against Michigan, it'll be clear that the Nittany Lions will need Bolden back at the first opportunity if they want to salvage so much as a low-level bowl game from this disappinting season.
The reverse is also true, however, for Michigan, who have seen the expectations and stakes for this game increase dramatically. If the Wolverine defense can't give Denard Robinson and Co. a little bit of slack against the Big Ten's next-to-worst scoring offense playing without its starting quarterback, then who can they give that slack against? The parallels between Michigan's 2009 second-half collapse and this hypothetical three-game losing streak would be awfully tough to ignore any longer.
But first, McGloin has to prove he belongs on the Beaver Stadium field, and given the pressure and difficulty of the situation he faces, that's easier said than done.
Posted on: October 27, 2010 12:25 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2010 6:10 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Yesterday JoePa said that if he had to guess , Robert Bolden wouldn't be playing this weekend against Michigan. Today his mom said the same thing.
It doesn't look like the Penn State quarterback will be playing this week, a week after suffering a concussion during a win against Minnesota. Bolden is supposed to undergo tests on Wednesday to see if he has recovered from the concussion, but his mother says that he failed the same test on Sunday, and her son won't be on the field this week.
"He really wants to play against Michigan -- his heart is just going to be really broken," Tonya McNeal told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette . "He failed that concussion test, which is not good.
"I think it's best for him if they sit him down this week. Hopefully, he can play next week [against Northwestern]."
Which is the right decision to make for Bolden, so hopefully no matter what the results say of Bolden's test on Wednesday, Joe Paterno will heed the advice of his mother. She always knows best, after all.
Since Bolden won't be playing this week, that means either Matt McGloin -- who replaced Bolden against Minnesota -- or Kevin Newsome will get the start against the Wolverines. Both have been taking snaps with the first team this week.
Posted on: October 26, 2010 2:44 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2010 6:11 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
While the Michigan Wolverines may know who they will have lining up under center against Penn State this weekend, the same cannot be said for the Nittany Lions. Robert Bolden suffered a concussion during Penn State's victory over Minnesota last week and had to be replaced by former walk-on Matt McGloin.
As of now Bolden's status for Penn State's game against Michigan is up in the air, as Joe Paterno is still waiting to see what the doctors have to say about Bolden. Still, if you're going to force him to give you an answer, he's guessing Bolden won't be ready.
"[The medical staff] tested him Sunday and he still had memory problems," Paterno told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette . "They are going to test him again [Wednesday}.
"But, if you ask me, if I had to guess, he won't be able to make it. I don't want to take any chances. I just don't know."
It's nice to see that Paterno doesn't want to take any chances with a freshman quarterback coming off of a concussion. Personally I don't care what the doctors tell me, if I'm Bolden's coach, he's getting a week off. The question is who will replace him? McGloin took over for Bolden on Saturday and threw a couple of touchdowns, but he only completed 6-of-13 passes and also threw an interception.
Which is probably why he's sharing snaps with Kevin Newsome in practice this week.
Posted on: October 26, 2010 1:19 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2010 6:11 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Just three weeks ago Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson was the greatest thing to ever capture college football. We were all ready to hand the sophomore the Heisman Trophy after only five games, and it is hard to blame us for feeling that way. Things Robinson was doing on the football field were just insane.
Things have changed a bit since then, however. Michigan has lost its last two games and Robinson has had to deal with being banged up, allowing Cam Newton to grab that Heisman Trophy from Robinson's grasp. Still, after having the weekend off thanks to a bye, Rich Rodriguez has proclaimed his one-man army to be totally healthy and ready to blow our minds again.
“Every guy approaches (injury) a little bit differently,” Rodriguez told the Detroit Free Press. “He’s a very tough-minded individual, a tough guy. If our guys are injured, they need to let us know and, most of the time, the trainers let us know. Some guys can tolerate a little more pain than others. Denard can tolerate a lot of pain. His issue with the last ballgame wasn’t the knee, it was the shoulder. It just needed some rest. He needed some rest and ... we got that last weekend.”
This is good news for Michigan, as they remain only a win shy of becoming bowl eligible for the first time under Rodriguez, and Penn State is a beatable opponent these days, even in Happy Valley. Illinois was able to hand the Nittany Lions a loss at Beaver Stadium earlier this year, and did so courtesy of a ground attack led by Mikel LeShoure and Nate Scheelhaase. If Scheelhaase can get 61 yards on the ground in only 8 carries, then you have to think Robinson can have the type of game that could place him back in the Heisman hunt.
Posted on: October 23, 2010 9:33 pm
Edited on: October 23, 2010 10:43 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
1. You're going to have to knock Sparty out. The Michigan State Spartans, even sitting at 7-0 entering this week's trip to Northwestern , weren't exactly strangers to adversity. They trailed Notre Dame in the fourth quarter. They gave away all kinds of points in turnovers against Wisconsin . Their offense sputtered for a half against both Michigan and Illinois . Their head coach had missed time with multiple ailments including a freaking postgame heart attack.
But in football terms, none of that quite matched trailing the Wildcats 17-0 on the road midway through the second quarter this afternoon. The Spartans were lucky it wasn't worse, as Northwestern had fumbled a certain touchdown at the 1 and had both run the ball and stopped the MSU run with impunity. No matter: the Spartans turned to quarterback Kirk Cousins and their excellent receiving corps, and responded with an immediate touchdown. Just a few minutes into the second half, it was 17-14. A fake punt helped keep them within 24-21. And two touchdowns in the game's dying minutes gave them a 35-27 win . They just never stopped coming.
The lesson -- as the lesson has been all season with the Spartans -- is that you'd best put your boot on Sparty's throat when you get the chance. If you let them stay upright, their offense is too balanced and their confidence too high for them not to overtake you eventually. Just ask the Wildcats.
2. Iowa's fourth-quarter mojo is missing. A year ago, Ricky Stanzi was unstoppable in the final period , and the Hawkeyes rode his arm to a perfect 10-0 record in games he started and finished. Four of those wins came by a teeth-skinning total of eight points, with several others blown open by the Hawkeyes in the fourth after three evenly-played quarters. In short: no team in America was more clutch.
In its five wins so far this year, Iowa hasn't needed any of those heroics, winning by an average of 23 points. But twice in 2010 the Hawkeyes have found themselves in fourth-quarter struggles, and in neither case have they come up with the plays that made 2009 so special. Against Arizona , it was a collapse on the offensive line that led to a series of game-ending sacks. Against Wisconsin today , it was the Iowa special teams and defense that allowed the Badgers to drive 80 yards in 7:29 with the game on the line, eventually giving up the winning touchdown to Badger backup Montee Ball . The Badgers converted a pair of fourth downs on the drive, one on a fake punt deep in their own territory.
And this time, with barely more than a minute to work with, Stanzi wasn't able to pull off the miracle drive for the win. As they say: what a difference a year makes .
3. Move along: there's nothing to see in Minneapolis. Playing at home after the embarrassment of having its coach fired midseason, Minnesota allowed the previously moribund Penn State offense -- and "moribund" is being kind -- to rack up 145 rushing yards and 33 points in a comfortable 12-point win , all without injured starting quarterback Robert Bolden . We knew that the next Gopher head coach was by far the biggest question surrounding the program; after a performance like Saturday's, it's fair to call it the only question.
4. The Big Ten is one game away from total chaos. Or total boredom. Wisconsin looked utterly lost in East Lansing in Week 5, but after massive wins against Ohio State at home and now Iowa on the road, it's fair to say the Badgers have their usual ground-pounding attack operating at maximum efficiency. The Buckeyes made clear Saturday they're not going anywhere, obliterating Purdue 49-0 . And as painful as their come-from-ahead loss Saturday may have been, Iowa has just the one conference loss and is all the more dangerous for having been stung by its setbacks to date.
Meaning that if Michigan State falls in Iowa City this coming Saturday, no less than four of the Big Ten's powers could be tied at the top of the conference standings with a single loss, with only one game -- Iowa against Ohio State -- still to play between the four of them. The mind reels at the tiebreakers.
The flip side is that if Michigan State wins in Iowa City, to sit at least a game up on the rest of the field ... with head-to-head tiebreakers over the Hawkeyes and Badgers in hand ... no game scheduled against Ohio State ... and only dates against Minnesota, Purdue and Penn State remaining ... you might as well go ahead and pencil the Spartans in for Pasadena, or something even greater.
So, Michigan State at Iowa: the game of the Big Ten's season? Yes, Michigan State at Iowa, the game of the Big Ten's season.
Posted on: October 22, 2010 4:08 pm
Edited on: October 22, 2010 4:17 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
Every season, every month, every week, there are several outcomes and achievements that, frankly, nobody operating within reason would ever predict. Who could have predicted Nebraska would beat Florida for the 1995 title by 38 points, or that Boise State would pull off three late trick plays to knock off Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, or that South Carolina would fail to score a point in the second half against Kentucky a week after knocking off the Tide? Nobody... until now. We're going to try capture that lightning in a bottle by making similarly absurd predictions every week. Are they at all likely to come true? No. Do we even believe the words we're writing? No. But if we make even one correct call on these, we will never stop gloating. Ever.
Jordan Jefferson's utter distaste for the Auburn Tigers is fully revealed with a historic performance on Saturday. Last season, Jefferson entered the contest with the Tigers having thrown interceptions in three out of the last four games. He went on to stun the Auburn defense, throwing for 242 yards and two touchdowns. Jefferson adds to his record against the Tigers by throwing (gasp) a perfect game as a quarterback. Jefferson completes 30 of 30 passes for 324 yards and four touchdowns with ZERO interceptions to lead LSU in the 35-31 victory in Auburn. Cam Newton has a chance to win the game in the last minute but Les Miles' spies apprehend him with a planted laptop in his flack jacket. TIGERGATE!
Tennessee trots out the young Tyler Bray for some snaps against the Tide, and the freshman explodes for 297 yards and a pair of touchdowns in two quarters of action. Trailing 28-27 with four seconds left on the clock, Volunteers kicker Michael Palardy lines up a 34-yard field goal searching for some sweet redemption for the Tennessee faithful. A rocking Neyland Stadium drops to silence as Marcel Dareus charges up the A-gap and extends his arm to pull off his best Terrence Cody impression. History repeats itself and Dareus deflects the kick, celebration ensues on the Crimson Tide sideline. But there is a flag on the play. Twelve men on the field is called because Greg McElroy is standing on field, trying to sign language his cell phone number to a Tennessee cheerleader. Palardy drills the second attempt to seal the upset, and Nick Saban sets McElroy's 'Bama Bangs ablaze with his eyes.
While sitting out in a duck blind, former Minnesota head coach Tim Brewster texts in every play call to his interim replacement/offensive coordinator Jeff Horton. Interestingly enough, Brewster calling plays with no knowledge of down or distance is more effective than having him on the sideline. The Golden Gophers succeed in knocking off Penn State 28-10, picking up their first conference win of the season. Coach Joe Paterno tries to get some offensive spark by inserting freshman Kevin Newsome in a wildcat package. Paterno paces his feeble fibulas up and down the Nittany Lions sideline but can't find Newsome anywhere. He is back in University Park in Music Building 1, tickling the ivories.
Posted on: October 22, 2010 3:14 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
It's easy to pick out this weekend's biggest games: LSU and Auburn , Iowa and Wisconsin , Oklahoma and Missouri . But every week there's plenty of interesting matchups -- no, really -- that don't feature ranked teams and don't make anyone's "must-watch" list other than the team's fans. Here's four of them you should keep an eye on regardless (all times Eastern):
Penn State (3-3, 0-2) at Minnesota (1-6, 0-3), 12 p.m. This one won't feature a ton of points (the Gophers and Nittany Lions rank 76th and 108th in scoring offense, respectively), and obviously it's not going to have much impact on the Big Ten race, either. But this is the game that could legitimately be the beginning of the end of the Joe Paterno era; the Lions might be able to stomach one humiliating loss (last week's 20-point home shellacking at the hands of Illinois ), but a second at the hands of the reeling, coach-less Gophers -- not to mention the accompanying 0-3 conference record and dwindling hopes of bowl eligibility -- could start the succession planning in earnest. The long-term implications alone make this contest critical.
Rutgers (4-2, 1-0) at Pitt (3-3, 1-0), 12 p.m. Both the Scarlet Knights and Panthers have suffered some serious nonconference pratfalls --- Rutgers' unthinkable loss to Tulane , Pitt's home bludgeoning at the hands of Miami -- but both got off to 1-0 starts in Big East play with big wins over UConn and Syracuse , respectively. This is the Big East, after all: once you get to 2-0, it's impossible not to call you a serious contender in the conference. The key matchup will be Pitt's fast-rising Ray Graham (118 rushing yards per game) against Greg Schiano 's 15th-ranked defense.
Kansas State (5-1, 2-1) at Baylor (5-2, 2-1), 3:30 p.m. There's honest-to-God Big 12 implications here; if Mizzou loses to Oklahoma late Saturday, the Wildcats could forge a three-way tie atop the Big 12 North with their own date against the Tigers still to come. But the stakes are probably higher for the Bears anyway; a win would push Baylor to six wins and a postseason berth for the first time since they played the 1994 Alamo Bowl. There's surprising talent on display here, too: Wildcat back Daniel Thomas is the conference's second-leading rusher at 130 yards a game, and Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin (14 TDs, 3 INT) has a Denard Robinson -esque blend of rushing speed and throwing accuracy.
Georgia (3-4, 2-3) at Kentucky (4-3, 1-3), 7:30 p.m. The storyline for this one is simple: the winner stays in the dead thick of the muddled SEC East race. Beyond that, last November the Wildcats used a bevy of Georgia turnovers to upset the Dawgs in Athens and have generally given Mark Richt 's team fits the past few seasons. If Richt wants to permanently silence the bleating for his head that began after Georgia's 1-4 start, he can't afford a second straight defeat at the hands of a team that's been Georgia's traditional inferior. Too bad for him the Wildcats have been feisty at home thus far this season, pulling one major upset against South Carolina last week and coming within one stop of doing the same to Auburn the week before. As long as Randall Cobb is around (even if Derrick Locke isn't), expect more feistiness to come, and for this one to come down to the wire.
Posted on: October 19, 2010 11:33 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2010 11:44 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Jim Tressel announced at his news conference today that Ohio State has lost its most important linebacker for a good chunk of the rest of the season. Ross Homan, a senior three-year starter from Coldwater, Ohio, suffered a foot injury in the Buckeyes' game against Wisconsin. According to Tressel, that'll put Homan out for "a couple weeks."
How much this matters to Ohio State depends largely on how long the injury lingers. Assuming "couple" means at least "multiple," Homan's going to miss this week's game against Purdue and next week's trip to Minnesota. Not to assume victory for OSU or anything, but ... yes, OK, we're assuming exactly that. A bye week awaits after that, then the Buckeyes host Penn State. Even if Homan can't go for PSU, that's four weeks to recover, which certainly seems reasonable, and Ohio State shouldn't miss Homan very much in those three games against relatively toothless offenses.
However, if Homan's foot injury lingers (as foot injuries too often do), a fifth week missed might be a problem: that's when the Buckeyes travel to Iowa. Homan was clutch in Ohio State's win over the Hawkeyes last season, when he registered eight tackles and an interception. That was good enough for Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week, and Ohio State could surely use a similar performance this year.
At the very least, though, if Homan's foot problems leave him out long enough to miss the Iowa game or the Michigan game the week afterwards, the retooled Ohio State linebacking corps should be up to full speed with that amount of time to adjust. If the Wisconsin game is any indication, strongside linebacker Andrew Sweat will move to Homan's spot, while sophomore Jon Newsome will replace Sweat.
So, no: Ohio State's season is not automatically ruined, and it's not terribly likely that the Buckeyes' win-loss record will be adversely affected by the loss of Homan either.