Tag:Penn State
Posted on: October 16, 2010 11:48 pm
Edited on: October 17, 2010 9:19 pm
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What I learned from the Big Ten (Oct. 16)

Posted by Adam Jacobi

1. It's anybody's conference. With Wisconsin putting the finishing touches on a stunning 31-18 upset of the Ohio State Buckeyes, here are the teams that are at least tied with OSU in the Big Ten standings: Michigan State, Iowa, Purdue, and Wisconsin. Purdue is probably not going to contend for the Big Ten title, but the other three teams mentioned certainly will. Michigan State, of all the teams, must be the most ecstatic about the result in Madison; the Spartans are undefeated, the only Big Ten team who's 3-0 in the conference, and they miss Ohio State this year. But Iowa's at 2-0 in conference play, and the Spartans have to visit Iowa City in two weeks. Who would have thought back in August that MSU at Iowa could be the most pivotal contest of the Big Ten season?

2. Denard Robinson is most certainly mortal. It's not as Denard Robinson was a non-factor against the Iowa Hawkeyes today: Robinson racked up 204 yards of total offense in about 35 minutes of work. But for the third time this season, Shoelace left a game with an injury, and for the second time, that injury shelved him for the rest of the game. One of the most remarkable things about Robinson's production thus far is the sheer heft of Robinson's workload. Yes, he can't lead the nation in rushing and throw for over 200 yards without either throwing or rushing on the vast majority of Michigan's snaps. But that's an incredibly difficult thing to do, and now we're seeing some evidence that it's just not sustainable -- especially now that Robinson's not facing cupcake defenses like Massachusetts or Notre Dame (I kid, ND, I kid). Thanks to a bye week, Robinson has two weeks to recover before his next start, at Penn State. Does Tate Forcier still gets some snaps in relief at Beaver Stadium? Should he?

3. Wisconsin's rushing game is alive and well. Coming into today, John Clay was having a pretty good season, but considering Wisconsin's opposition, Clay wasn't looking dominant. That changed this week, when the big junior running back was running untouched through giant rushing lanes against Ohio State. That's not entirely surprising, but if Iowa doesn't have the best defensive line in the conference, then Ohio State surely must, and that Buckeye front four was absolutely gouged today. So if the Badgers can run all over Ohio State, they can probably run all over everybody left on their schedule. Again, the only remaining great defensive line on Wisconsin's schedule is Iowa, and that game's coming up this week. That should be just a little fun to watch. 

4. Congratulations to Penn State, who did not lose this week. Technically, it didn't play, but any iota of good news is welcome in Happy Valley these days.

5. Don't be that surprised if Illinois runs the table from here on out. It would be foolish to look at Illinois and see just another .500 team. Illinois' three losses are to still-undefeated Missouri, still-undefeated Michigan State, and only-recently-defeated Ohio State. In every one of those games, Illinois was competitive into the fourth quarter. And guess what: Illinois doesn't have any games against ranked competition left. Nathan Scheelhaase and Mikel LeShoure are growing as a QB-RB tandem week to week, and the toughest opponent left on the Illini schedule is, oh, let's say Northwestern. Illinois may be 3-3 today, but it may be 8-4 (or even better) before you know it.

6. The Tim Brewster farewell tour's going to be hard to watch. Fans of comedy in college football are going to lose an important ally this season, as Minnesota informed the world that Tim Brewster's not coming back next season. It's a shame, really, but it's only surprising insofar as Brewster hasn't been asked to clean out his office right now instead. Minnesota's got some decent athleticism, especially on the edges, so if that talent gets in the hands of a decent coach (MIKE LEACH MIKE LEACH MIKE LEACH DO ITTTTTTT), that program up north might wake up and make some noise next season. But only if Minnesota hires Leach.

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Posted on: October 15, 2010 3:51 pm
 

The Saturday Meal Plan: Week 7

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The Saturday Meal Plan is a helpful guide put together for you to maximize the results of your college football diet.  Just enough to leave you feeling full, but not so much you spend your entire Sunday in the bathroom.

Breakfast


Main Course - #13 Michigan State vs. Illinois - Noon - Big Ten Network


Yes, the morning menu is still incredibly light this week.  You'd think I'd be beyond complaining about it at this point since it's been this way all season, but I assure you, I am not above complaining about anything .  Though this Michigan State and Illinois game isn't as unfulfilling as it may seem at first glance.

Michigan State is 6-0, after all, and coming off of a very big win against Michigan.   Illinois has also played well lately, with a win not many saw coming on the road against Penn State last week.  Also, let's not forget that the Illini gave Ohio State a very tough time in Champaign a few weeks ago.

There's enough cause to believe that another upset may be in the works this weekend.  First of all, Michigan State is coming off that Michigan win, and there could be a letdown this weekend.  Second, it is Michigan State.  Completely unexpected losses at home against teams they should beat after getting off to a good start to the season wouldn't exactly be a new phenomenon for the Spartans. 

Side Orders: If you don't get the Big Ten Network, and don't have the choice of watching Michigan State and Illinois between Ro-Tel and Velveeta commercials, there are other options.  Florida State and Boston College square off in Tallahassee,  or you could tune in to what could be Tim Brewster's last game when Minnesota takes on Purdue.   Of course, if you want to watch that game I'd suggest spending three hours talking to some sort of counselor instead.  Maybe you should watch Syracuse and Pitt instead, just to see if you should actually take this Syracuse team seriously.

Lunch


Main Course - #7 Auburn vs. #12 Arkansas - 3:30pn - CBS


Now that Alabama has lost, it leaves the door open to a couple of teams in the SEC West.  Auburn is one of them. Arkansas, who has already lost to Alabama, has an outside chance, but to make the most of it, a win over Auburn is a must have.

Of course, even if there wasn't so much on the line for both teams in this game, I'd recommend tuning in just to watch Cam Newton and Ryan Mallett face off.  In other words, expect a lot of points, and what could turn out to be a very exciting, back and forth affair.

Auburn's pass defense left a bit to be desired against Kentucky last week, and don't think that Bobby Petrino didn't pick up on a few things when watching the game tape.  The Auburn defense is going to need to play very well if the Tigers want to leave this one with their perfect record still intact.

Side Orders: There are a couple of other dishes available in the afternoon, including the one that's often best-served cold, which Nebraska is hoping to give Texas tomorrow afternoon.  There's also Michigan and Iowa in the Big House, which will be a defining game for the Wolverines.  We find out if Michigan is either a good team that lost a tough game against a rival last week, or it's still the same old Michigan we've grown accustomed to the last few years.

Dinner


Main Course - #18 Wisconsin vs. #1 Ohio State - 7pm - ESPN


It's been a while since the Buckeyes found themselves ranked as the best team in the country, but if they're not careful, it's not going to last long.  The Buckeyes have gotten off to a 6-0 start this season, but this is the first real test they'll have faced.  Yes, Miami was a tough game, but that was at home and Miami has proven to be pretty average this season.

This is the road, at night, at Camp Randall Stadium.  Ohio State's defense hasn't faced a punishing ground game like it'll be seeing against Wisconsin with John Clay and company.  Ohio State has only ventured outside of Columbus once this season, and that was what turned out to be their worst game of the season against Illinois.

And trust me, it's a lot easier to win in Champaign than it is in Madison.

Side Orders: Kentucky nearly knocked off Auburn at home last week, and it will try to do this same this week when it hosts South Carolina.   The Gamecocks are coming off their biggest win ever, so a let down could be in order.  There's also Florida looking to end its two-game losing streak taking on Mississippi State and old friend Dan Mullen, and the Crimson Tide look to take out their frustrations from last week against Ole Miss and its new mascot.

Late Night Snack


Oregon State may have had some troubles with non-conference foes like TCU and Boise State, but it's off to a nice start in conference play.  They look to improve to 3-0 in the Pac-10 when they head to Washington to take on the Huskies Saturday night on ESPN.
Posted on: October 14, 2010 6:48 pm
 

Penn State student section gets unfortunate idea

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Halloween is but 17 short days away, and as any proper celebrant knows, figuring out a costume early is crucial if you're going to dress up for the holiday. And as anyone who's ever watched a college football game at the end of October knows, lots of people dress up for football games, particularly in the student section.

With that, some enterprising fans in Penn State's student section recently posted a Facebook group aimed at coordinating costume efforts for their October 30 showdown with Michigan. While Penn State often uses the "White Out" (which, while visually stunning, usually doesn't bode well for their on-field success), these fans proposed kicking things up a notch with a GHOST-OUT:

Listen - it's Halloween. Let's get real. We are Penn State and we are awesome. Me, William Cooper and some friends (ERIN HULLAND!!)(CHRISTINA RICCI) (Ryan Leddy yelled at me while I was making the event) decided (at Mad Mex) that instead of just some normal white out - lets be ghostsssssssssssssssssssss! HOW AWESOME WOULD IT BEEEEE?!? Awesome. K good - do it, invite your friends.WIN.

Ignoring the totally gratuitous name-dropping, this sounds like a fun, innocent idea. They could make ghost noises and everything, and it'd be fun for the whole family. Already, around 6,500 Facebook users have clicked "Attend" on this, so there's some popular support here.

But wait, just a second. Massive groups of people wearing white sheets with eyeholes? Hasn't that been done before? Didn't it, um, not end well? Some of those attendees voiced those concerns (with varying levels of tact), and that prompted this truly surreal disclaimer from the event creator:

I would like to make it clear that this is IN NO WAY intended to be racially insensitive IN ANY WAY. This page legitimately started as a JOKE between friends and just happened to gain an immense amount of support. Please be respectful and remember that we are being GHOSTS. Ghosts do not have pointy heads, so make sure we don't either. Come on everyone, use your common sense. Don't be the [redacted] that a lot of people believe penn state fans to be. WE ARE PENN STATE.

The other thing about these costumes, which I don't think I've seen addressed elsewhere, is that they're basically a white cloth version of the bag-over-head look that fans of hapless teams resort to. Granted, that's clearly not the fans' original intent here, but usually when sports fans obscure their faces, it's because they don't want to be seen at the game. And if Penn State performs as well against Michigan as they did against Illinois last week, well, those ghost costumes will come in extra handy in that regard too.

Hat Tip: Slow States

Posted on: October 10, 2010 3:38 am
 

What I learned from the Big Ten (Oct. 9)

Posted by Adam Jacobi

1. Perhaps Denard Robinson's competition matters. Hey, we'll be the first ones to admit to falling in love with Denard Robinson's early-season performance. Sure, Michigan's opposition wasn't very good (at all), but lots of other teams were playing cupcake schedules at the same time, and nobody -- except maybe for Cam Newton -- was doing what Shoelace was doing. But Michigan State provided a pretty easy blueprint for containing Robinson: have a decent defense and don't do anything stupid with them. The Spartan defense, led as always by All-American linebacker Greg Jones, played disciplined defense against the explosive sophomore and forced him into three interceptions -- two of which came in Michigan State's end zone. Sure, Robinson ended up accounting for 301 yards (215 passing, 86 rushing), and those are good numbers, but remember: he's basically their entire offense. So while giving up 301 yards of offense to one guy isn't ideal, holding the entire team to 377 yards is much more palatable, and that's exactly what the Michigan State defense did. Next up for the Wolverines: Iowa -- and 60 more minutes of that defensive intensity.

2. Don't run up the score on Tim Brewster, please. The second-oddest thing about this week of Big Ten play was seeing Minnesota head coach Tim Brewster get into an arguing match with Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema after Wisconsin's 41-23 victory over the Golden Gophers. The oddest thing came about six minutes prior, when Bret Bielema elected to try a two-point conversion after the Badgers scored a touchdown to extend their lead to 41-16. The try failed, because not even Football God hates Minnesota that much, but Brewster certainly took it personally; the Minnesota coach said some very unprintable words to Bielema on the field, and used the word "wrong" to describe Bielema's decision about 15,000 times in his postgame press conference. Bielema said his little when-should-you-go-for-two card dictated that his team attempt the two-point conversion in that scenario. Even assuming Bielema's excuse is true, we have to wonder why Bielema didn't heed his card's advice 5:16 earlier, when his team scored a fourth-quarter touchdown to go up by 25 the first time. After John Clay's third touchdown of the game, Wisconsin led 34-9 with 11:55 to go, and Bielema kicked a harmless extra point then. Maybe, maybe Minnesota could have engineered 27 points in 11:55, but there was no chance of it happening with 6:39 left, so there's really no sense in kicking the extra point the first time but not the second. Bielema doesn't necessarily owe Brewster an apology; he's Bret Bielema, and he's kind of a jerk, and that's what he does. But at the very least, he owes Brewster and the rest of Big Ten fans an actual explanation of what the heck he was thinking going for two.

3. Penn State just isn't very good. Okay, we sort of knew coming into this season that Penn State would be taking some more lumps than usual on account of their true freshman quarterback, Rob Bolden, winning the starting job in Week 1. And sure, their 24-3 losses to Alabama and Iowa were disappointing, but not really shocking; 'Bama and the Hawkeyes are both pretty legit programs with pretty legit defenses. But 21-point losses to top-15 teams are one thing; a 20-point loss to middling Illinois is another altogether. Illinois controlled the action on both sides of the ball Saturday, shredding Penn State's vaunted front seven for 282 yards on the ground. Mikel LeShoure was a workhorse with 119 rushing yards and a 32-yard reception, and Illini QB Nathan Scheelhaase was both efficient (15-19, 151 yards, 1 TD) and mobile (eight carries, 61 yards). Meanwhile, Bolden had one of his worst starts of his nascent career, going 8-21 for 142 yards, a score, and a pretty bad pick-six to Nate Bussey that pushed Illinois' lead to 14-3. It was a freshman mistake, of course, and one he probably won't make next season and beyond. But it's that sort of thing, coupled with a general lack of special talent on the rest of the offense, that dooms the Nittany Lions when their defense isn't perfect. The Nittany Lions are 3-3 (0-2) now. Right now, it's pretty hard to guarantee they're going to a bowl this season.

4. Northwestern is also not very good. Going back to 2008, Northwestern's habit of winning games by close margins -- which is to say, playing both up and down to the competition -- has never really come back to haunt them; coming into Saturday's game the Wildcats were 14-4 in one-possession games since '08, a streak that's both remarkable and completely doomed to come back down to earth sooner or later, and that's where we find the Wildcat today. Two special teams disasters in the fourth quarter -- a blocked field goal and a poorly-kicked game-tying attempt with a minute left -- effectively kept six points off the board for the Wildcats, and a Dan Dierking rush from 7 yards out sealed the 20-17 upset for lowly Purdue. It's a bummer of a loss for the Wildcats, but the type of inexplicable upset that besets them pretty much every year. Their benchmark game is likely their next: Michigan State comes to town, and a win would put Northwestern back on the map. But it would take the Wildcats' best performance of the season, and any time the prerequisite for respectability is something a team hasn't yet shown itself to be capable of doing, odds are that the fans will go home disappointed.

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Posted on: October 9, 2010 2:23 pm
 

Penn State getting handled by Illinois, 30-13

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Happy Valley? No no, not today. Penn State is hosting Illinois this afternoon, and the Illini are positively rude guests. Illinois leads 30-13, having just completed a 41-yard field goal.

There's been no gimmick to Illinois' success; they're just grinding out drive after drive, primarily on the ground. Mikel LeShoure topped 100 yards early in the third quarter, and Nathan Scheelhaase has been efficient on the ground and through the air.

Meanwhile, Penn State has only four first downs to Illinois' 19, and Rob Bolden just isn't effective enough as a passer to get Illinois' defense to stop keying on Evan Royster; Royster's dinged up and at only 35 rushing yards after three quarters.

If Illinois hangs on, perhaps this won't be considered an upset after the year's over; Penn State's just not very good, and it wouldn't be a terrible surprise to see both teams at 3-5 in the conference when it's all said and done. For now, though, yes, the Upset Alerts tag rides again.

Posted on: October 6, 2010 5:25 pm
Edited on: October 6, 2010 5:28 pm
 

Penn State considering using two quarterbacks

Posted by Chip Patterson

For Penn State, it is not hard to look at their body of work so far this season and understand what needs to be improved.  The 3-2 Nittany Lions are averaging 30.0 points per game in their victories, only those wins were against Youngstown State, Kent State, and Temple.  Against ranked teams, Penn State is 0-2 and has yet to muster more than three points in a game.  Preparing for Illinois on Saturday in Happy Valley, head coach Joe Paterno has some ideas for jump-starting the offense.

There's a chance Penn State will insert Kevin Newsome as a change-of-pace Wildcat quarterback Saturday against Illinois.

"We discussed that," Nittany Lions coach Joe Paterno said Tuesday. "But Kevin's got to spend a little more time doing his homework. Right now, he's gotten by with his athletic ability."

"But I think there is a place for him," Paterno said. "Maybe we have to use him a little bit more. I don't know."

Newsome is averaging 5.4 yards per carry on the season, though a majority of that damage was in the three wins against non-AQ teams.  Still, the sophomore has displayed the speed and athleticism to demand a defenses respect.  Newsome may not be able to be the Penn State playmaker himself, but his presence in the game will demand that opponents stay honest, as well as cut down on snaps for true freshman Robert Bolden.  Bolden has been effective moving the ball, but has struggled to keep the ball out of the opponents hands.  His 1035 yards passing and three touchdowns are greatly overshadowed by the six interceptions on the season.  

Newsome's ability to run could particularly help the Nittany Lions out in the red zone.  In 18 trips, Penn State has only been able to score six touchdowns, will settling for six field goals, and failing to score at all six times.  The threat of Newsome on the ground should spread the defense and give offensive coordinator Galen Hall more flexibility with red zone play-calling.

Newsome is not only multi-talented on the field, but flexes his musical capabilities off the field as well.  This is him tickling the ivories before bed checks during training camp.


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Posted on: October 3, 2010 1:14 am
 

Iowa's defense excels in 24-3 win over Penn State

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Iowa 6, Penn State 3. That's the score if Iowa's offense or special teams didn't contribute a single point today, and the defense was left to score for itself. Score it did, as an interception returned for a touchdown by cornerback Shaun Prater late in the fourth quarter perfectly punctuated a 24-3 victory for the Hawkeyes.

When asked if it was the defense's best performance of the season, senior safety Brett Greenwood seemed to think so. "Emotionally, we feel like it was. I know we gave up a few throws there that we need to correct, but right now, it might be."

The defense was led by Adrian Clayborn , who broke out of a slump -- or at least what would qualify as one for the All-American defensive end, anyway -- with 10 tackles, including three tackles for loss and a sack. Clayborn was at his most dominant in the fourth quarter, registering 2.5 TFLs and the sack on a forced intentional grounding by quarterback Rob Bolden .

"I had to get back to the basics. That's how [defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski ] told us to be, just play [ticked] off," Clayborn said. "You have to get after it; you can't be a nice guy on the field, and I think that's how we played as a defensive line."

That line made Bolden's evening the worst, though, on a 4th and goal from Iowa's 1-yard line. Bolden lined up in the shotgun and scrambled for the goal line, a run that was stretched out by end Broderick Binns and then snuffed out by tackle Christian Ballard inches from the goal line.

"I saw a little bit of green left, and I knew I had to make a play," Ballard said of his touchdown-saving tackle.

Senior quarterback Ricky Stanzi was a rock for his offense, completing 16 of 22 passes for 227 yards and a touchdown. Stanzi also scored on a sneak from a yard out to give Iowa a 17-point lead late in the first half. Stanzi attributed his efficient game to the game plan put in by offensive coordinator Ken O'Keefe .

"They're short passes, they're dump-downs, the checks are built in, and we're able to get the ball downfield if we want to," said Stanzi.

For the Hawkeyes, the win's nice, but so is what comes next: a bye week. Head coach Kirk Ferentz said he ran running back Adam Robinson 28 times and said "he could have gone 50" because of the bye week, and Robinson, who gained 95 yards on the ground Saturday, said he's never been sorer after a game.

The bye week will also help the Hawkeyes get their linebacker corps healthy; middle linebacker Jeff Tarpinian ceded his starting role to Troy Johnson , and both players left the game with minor injuries. From there, the Hawkeyes depended on true freshman James Morris , and Morris was tied for third on the team with seven tackles on the day.

"He was ready to go when called upon," Ferentz said of Morris. "First thing you hope he doesn't do is blow something, leave something just wide open, give them an easy big gain. It didn't seem like he did that, and that's a real credit to him."

What's more, the bye week gives Iowa an extra week for arguably their defense's biggest task of the season: find a way to shut down Michigan and Denard Robinson .

Posted on: October 2, 2010 10:35 pm
 

Penn State menacing, but Iowa still leads by 14

Posted by Adam Jacobi

The defenses have stiffened up in Iowa City, and Iowa's 17-3 lead has stood for the last 15 minutes of play. Penn State had the only appreciable offense of the quarter, driving to Iowa's one-yard line before Rob Bolden was stuffed at the goal line on a scramble by DT Christian Ballard .

Meanwhile, Penn State's rushing defense has absolutely swallowed up Iowa tailback Adam Robinson , who managed just 11 yards in the third quarter. With Penn State winning the field position battle, we could be in for an exciting fourth quarter.

 
 
 
 
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