I’m working on some preview stuff, or at least am in the process of getting some of the basics done for the 2007 preview. Some stuff I’m going to hold for the paper itself, other (overflow) stuff I will post here.
I dusted off the ESPN college football encyclopedia yesterday and sat down and digested the Athlon, Sporting News, Lindy’s, Phil Steele, Street and Smith’s, and USA preview issues all afternoon, I don’t think I did that much reading when I was a senior with 21 credits in my spring semester.
I’m convinced of two things right off the bat.
1) Anthony Morelli will have a good year. A very good year. He has to. It’s law of averages. Every senior quarterback since 1978 at PSU has posted pretty good, if not All-American worthy numbers. Three of them, Chuck Fusina, John Sheaffer, and Kerry Collins led (4) undefeated regular seasons, AND played in three National Title games. Of course in 1982, the Blackledge team lost in Alabama during the regular season but ended up playing for title.
Others like Tony Sacca, Kevin Thompson, Mike Robinson, Mike McQueary, all led teams that either finished with 11 wins or were a preseason top five of sorts. (Remember 1999, despite Thompson leading the way, PSU was the SI preseason No. 1???)
Even a guy like Wally Richardson, who fans booed repeatedly during the 1996 season, led the team to the Fiesta Bowl (Granted Curtis Enis was probably the reason why).
I just think those numbers set a precedent for what’s to come with Morelli. Experience, poise, leadership, all of that. I believe he will have a damn fine season and now I’m on record saying that.
Some more numbers to back me up on this.
-Senior quarterbacks are 117-38 since 1978 at PSU.
-11 Bowl appearances, including the Sugar twice, Fiesta three times, Orange twice and the Rose once. PSU is 8-3 in those games again with two national titles in three title game chances (editors note: The New York Times named PSU champs in 1994, so technically I guess it’s three titles in four chances?? I’ve always believe that 1994 is one of the top 5 college football teams of all-time and do recognize the NYT as legit.)
-Included in that span, six seasons in which the team had at least 11 wins, twice they went 12-0 in those six seasons. Three of those six seasons PSU had an undefeated regular season.
-Shaffer and Collins were a combined 45-3 in their final two years and an astounding 24-0 in their senior years. (Editors note: When I was a kid growing up, in a PSU house, I wanted to be John Shaffer, no joke.)
That year junior year of experience means E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G for incoming seniors. And I believe Morelli will be the latest in a long line of successful QBs in their senior year at PSU. That doesn’t mean us hacks are headed to Burbon Street in the second week of Jan., but Florida on New Years Day looks very promising again.
2)I am, as of July 3rd, 100-percent convinced that PSU will lose at Illinois. Maybe I am too much of a believer in Juice Williams, but I look at what he (almost) did last year in Happy Valley without a top target to throw to, now he has Arrelious Benn, this could be ugly and a coming out party for the Illini. I am already on upset alert for that game, and it comes a week after the Michigan trip….so a PSU win in Ann Arbor (yea yea, I know) means it’s a lock there is a letdown the next week.
I picked through the skeds, here are my top five PSU games and top five Big Ten games this season.
Top Five PSU Games in ’07
1) September 22 at Michigan: This is THE game. It’s been since 1996 that the Nits defeated Michigan and are 0-7 since “Judgement Day” 1997 when Charles Woodson destroyed PSU at Beaver Stadium. A win here, we’ll talk title, even more so after…..
2) October 13, Wisconsin: Regardless of outcome in Ann Arbor, this will be a Big Ten title elimination game. All three teams, between UM, PSU and Wisky all play each other….something has to give.
3) September 8, Notre Dame: Not last years Notre Dame team, but PSU players, coaches and fans will never ever forget the fake punt on 4th down last year in South Bend. My take? I didn’t like it either, but Weis did what Weis had to do in order to better Weis. People will cry after PSU beats ND 40-6 that “this isn’t the typical ND team,” but then PSU will be rewarded with how well ND plays down the stretch.
4) October 27, Ohio State: This game loses a little since the Buckeyes will be a bit down this season. Still it’s Tressel, and by this point tOSU will be worthy of slight “making a run” talk. Morelli’s experience against tOSU last year means more than you can imagine here.
5) September 29, at Illinois: Trap game, trap game, trap game, enough said. Especially if PSU beats Michigan the week before.
Top Five Big Ten games in ’07
1) November 17, Ohio State at Michigan: Does anything else need to be said? The best rivalry in college football history, will the Buckeyes end the Lloyd Carr era and spoil an undefeated season??? The “Fab 4” returned to UM for this chance.
2) November 10, Wisconsin at Michigan: Talk about a break, the Badgers AND Buckeyes in back-to-back weeks at home for Michigan? Who do they have naked pictures of? Both teams will have already played PSU by this point, so it could be the de facto conference title game and BCS berth (both will make it) on the line.
3) November 10, Illinois at Ohio State: A bowl berth on the line for the revamped Illini, and if the Buckeyes are on a roll, this could be another Illini spoiler.
4/5) October 6/13th, Purdue vs Ohio State/at Michigan: The second toughest two week stretch in the conference this season. Purdue should be a top five team in the B10 this season, this is their chance to shake things up and open the door for everyone else. Boilermakers have so much experience back it’s almost sick….almost.
(more) BIG TEN NETWORK HEADACHES
Mark Wogenrich, fellow beat writer, from the Morning Call in Allentown was at the same Jim Delany presser last week at the Capitol, he waited until today to do his story, here it is.
It’s interesting in Allentown/Lehigh Valley because at Mark notes, RCN and Service Electric are two of the main providers in the area and they are small, more like “mom and pop” cable companies. Comcast is also in that area, but RCN and SE rule it. Interesting what will happen there. And you thought we here in the People’s Republic of Harrisburg had it tough.
Check this out…..
Chad Henne, Michigan quarterback, has posted a wonderful 19-5 record in the Big Ten since 2004….but he’s 0-3 against (The) Ohio State and all three games were decided by a combined 11 points.
Henne is 9-9 in games decided by eight or less points since 2004 (note that some of them are out of conference games, like Notre Dame, Texas, etc., in case you couldn’t put two and two together with this stat and the stat above.)