Tag Archives: Big Ten Conference

D-Day looms for BCS

If you’re like me, you can’t wait for that Sunday in March, ‘Selection Sunday,’ where the NCAA Tournament brackets are revealed.

We now have a new selection Sunday, this coming one, where the Bowl Championship Series will make it’s selections for the four games, plus the given national title game (unless Texas somehow screws up the Big 12 title game)…

The looming issue for the BCS, what to do with a second Big Ten team. Many are lobbying for Iowa to be that team because afterall they played in the de facto conference title game against Ohio State and they beat PSU head-to-head.

Iowa deserves the nod, there’s no question. If the BCS wants to have any shred of credibility, they won’t stoop to the level of picking the marketable PSU over Iowa.

But they don’t and they won’t.

So Penn State, I feel, is headed to a BCS bowl, the Fiesta, where they will get Boise State or TCU in what should be three things. First, the highest rated of the non-title games, second, wildly entertaining and third, a huge cash cow for the BCS.

Every year we can point out problems with the bowl system. In fact all this talk that FSU might play West Virginia in a Bowden-farewell bowl is disgusting.

The BCS is nothing more than a business and Penn State is good for bowl business. All this nonsense about economy and people not traveling is just that, nonsense. People who say they have sources that tell them this or that about bowls, don’t.

Don’t buy it.

Do buy that when push comes to shove, Penn State is good for business, they draw, they always will, they have Joe Paterno, they have stars in Daryll Clark and Navorro Bowman, and if the Big Ten wants to shed it’s terrible image with the big games, PSU is the safest of the two picks.

Whether or not they deserve it, you can keep debating that until you’re blue in the face. But they’re going to be there.

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Week 11 quick picks

Here are your week 11 picks for the Big Ten. Wager wisely.

LAST WEEK: 2-4, missed badly on Minnesota, Iowa, PSU and pretty much everything else in the conference.

ON THE SEASON: 53-20

UNDERCARD

So. DAKOTA STATE at MINNESOTA, Noon, Big Ten Network

This is a who cares game of sort. Goldy Gopher gets bowl eligible.

The Pick: Minnesota 31, SDSU 9

INDIANA at PENN STATE, Noon, Big Ten Network

I expect a slow start for PSU, just because of the emotional letdown thing, plus its senior day, so the misty eyes may hold over for a few plays. IU can move the ball, but they cannot run it, nor can they score late in games to win going away. They also cannot stop anyone.

I’m changing my pick from the BWI pick made 11 days ago, just the score, not the winner.

The Pick: PSU 41, Indiana 13

MICHIGAN at WISCONSIN, Noon, Big Ten Network

Six weeks ago this was shaping up as a possible conference title game. Then Michigan went back to being Michigan of 2008. Wisconsin is still physical and can really run the hell out of the ball as usual.

Wolverines desperately need this to keep a bowl berth and possibly save Rich Rodriguez’s job. They won’t do either.

The Pick: Wisconsin 27, Michigan 16

NORTHWESTERN at ILLINOIS, Noon, ESPN Classic

Wildcats get a bowl berth already, but they face an Illinois team that has turned the corner of sorts. I would go with the letdown here, but I think Northwestern is too sharp mentally to have that happen, thanks to Pat Fitzgerald.

The Pick: Northwestern 26, Illinois 17

MICHIGAN STATE at PURDUE, Noon, ESPN

Sparty has itself a two-game swing to A) get a bowl berth and B) put the program in a good direction heading into 2010. Purdue has been up and down all year and as I’ve been saying I just keep waiting for them to be consistent. Sparty will get its bowl bid and set up a nasty game with PSU next weekend to close the season.

The Pick: Michigan State 30, Purdue 23

THE MAIN EVENT

IOWA at OHIO STATE, 3:30, ABC

This is for the Big Ten crown, and there is no way Iowa can survive without Ricky Stanzi. This will be like the early Mike Tyson fights where you know the winner going in and you get the early knock out. I do not think Jim Tressel will play it safe here even though Iowa has a good defense. Buckeyes offense will shine with Terrelle Pryor adding another huge win to his resume and essentially locking up the conference crown and Rose Bowl berth.

Watch those bookend DEs tee off on the Iowa offensive line and backfield.

The Pick: Ohio State 31, Iowa 10

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Joe Paterno transcript

Apologies for no press conference update today, had get on the Big Ten call and talk to Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio.

Here’s Joe’s transcript courtesy of ASAPSports (note, as some of you have asked, this is not the “official” one PSU sends out later in the day)

THE MODERATOR: Welcome to our weekly teleconference with Coach Paterno. We’ll start today with questions.

Q. Joe, you said after Saturday’s game you would take a look at your special teams. What did you see and are you planning to make any changes?
COACH PATERNO: Spend a little more time with them. I don’t know if that’s part of the problem or not. We did, we took a good look at them Sunday and yesterday. I think we’re going to make a couple personnel changes. We went out yesterday without pads, so on Mondays it’s tough to evaluate people. But today we’ll go out there and challenge a couple guys a little bit so that we can find out whether we really have it right people in there.

Q. Joe, what is Johnny Troutman’s status for Saturday? Can you evaluate your offensive line play against Ohio State?
COACH PATERNO: Troutman probably won’t play. He didn’t practice yesterday. We didn’t do much, but he didn’t do anything.
You know, obviously we haven’t done the kind of job you got to do, particularly in the second half, against clubs. I think we’ve depended too much on the big play. The offensive line, bumps and bruises, changes people around, has not helped.
We looked as if we were making progress, but when we came against a couple really good defensive seven-up people, we haven’t done a particularly good job.

Q. Joe, would you like to be able to get Kevin Newsome a few series with the first team before the end of the season?
COACH PATERNO: I don’t know where you’re coming from on that.

Q. Just for experience.
COACH PATERNO: Hey, we got a tough football game this week. Obviously, I haven’t spent much time looking at Michigan State, but I’ve looked at Indiana. We got a tough ballgame this week. Indiana has had some awfully tough luck, some of which was based on bad officiating. They had a chance to beat a couple good football teams, and got some bad calls.
I think we got to concentrate on Indiana.

Q. In the losses to Iowa and Ohio State, why do you think your team was handled physically by those two front seven, as you said?
COACH PATERNO: I think both Iowa and Ohio State played better than we did in the second half. Ohio State didn’t turn the ball over. Obviously, we did a poor job covering some punts, turned the game around. Iowa blocked a punt, turned the game around, intercepted a pass.
I think we played hard, but the other guys played pretty darn good.

Q. You talked a little bit about your offensive line. What can you do at this point in the season to help that along for the last couple of weeks and what is the situation at right tackle with who’s going to be playing there?
COACH PATERNO: We got to get better. We just got to keep working at the things that we’ve always done, try to overcome some deficiencies that maybe people have as far as technique or awareness of assignments, those kinds of things.
The right tackle, Poti really has played fairly well. I think he’s had one particularly bad play in the last two weeks where we got sacked. But other than that, I think he’s done fairly well.
Troutman being banged up, in all fairness, Troutman was not playing that well, we’ll probably have to sit around and figure out what we want to do with the left guard spot.

Q. Joe, I was wondering after you watched the film, what was your overall evaluation of Daryll Clark’s performance?
COACH PATERNO: I think Daryll was okay. We’ve gone from one extreme to the other. We started out the season with everybody wanting to take the run away from us, giving us a lot of opportunities in the pass game, because they didn’t think we had the kind of wideouts or quarterback that could scare them. Now we’re in a little different ballgame. People, they’re fighting like the dickens to take the pass game away from us and challenging us to run the football. We haven’t done a particularly good job, I think that’s obvious, running the football.
I think Daryll is doing all right. You know, I’m sure we could have done this, could have done that. You can always figure out something else you could have done. But I think he’s done fine.

Q. Sean Lee had a big game on Saturday. Is he as close as he’s been now to a hundred percent? Is he as close as he’s been since he got hurt?
COACH PATERNO: I think so. You’d probably have to ask him that. But just watching him play Saturday, I would agree with you. He played a good football game. If not as good as he can play, it’s very close. I think he and Bowman both have played really well. And Hull, we take him out on certain situations, but I think those three kids have done a good job.
I think we’ve played fairly well defensively. The big pass hurt us. You know, don’t ask me why it happened. One of the kids decided to guess on something, thought something else was going to happen, so he tried to make a play, left the guy wide open. Obviously that and the punt returns killed us.

Q. Joe, Evan Royster wasn’t on the injury report this week. Is he feeling a lot better now at this point?
COACH PATERNO: Actually, he played the ballgame. It was kind of a funny situation. Before the game, I guess he ran into a couple of people, couple of the kids that were dressed but they’re not going to play, so they don’t really get involved in the warmup. We dressed 112 kids last week. That’s probably as many as we ever dressed. I figured, big game, the kids had done a good job getting us ready. But he played the whole football game.
I didn’t see anything there where he was limping or anything like that. There was no problem with the medical people. He practiced yesterday. As I said earlier, we didn’t practice very hard yesterday, which is typical of a Monday. But he seems fine.

Q. Joe, Indiana’s running this pistol offense. I was wondering how different it is from what they’ve tried to do in the past?
COACH PATERNO: Oh, boy. What they’ve tried to do in the past? Well, what they’re doing is what we’ve seen a lot of people do now with the really good running quarterback. It’s a version of the old triple option from the shotgun.
They’re doing a good job with their offense. As I started out the conversation, they’ve had some tough, tough breaks. They have really moved the football most of the time against some pretty good football teams. They can move the football. Quarterback is tough. He may not have quite the speed Pryor has, but he’s very clever.
Honest to goodness, I can’t remember just how much I’ve seen them do with what they’re doing right now. But right now they’re running what you call a triple option, whatever you want to call it, and they’re doing it very well.

Q. Joe, I know every year the goal is to try to go undefeated, win the conference, BCS Bowl game, win the national championship. You get a chance to go 10-2, go to a decent New Year’s Bowl in Florida. If somebody said before the season with this bunch, with as many questions as there were, 10-2, a New Year’s Day Bowl game, would you have considered that a successful season?
COACH PATERNO: Right now we’re only 8-2. We got a tough game this week. I’ll think about it at the end if that happens.
I think maybe we’ve got to be a little bit more realistic each year when you look at a lot of things that go into it, our graduation rate, the type of kids we’re recruiting, the type of effort we’ve got out of kids, the great job that the staff does. I think maybe if we end up 10-2, that’s a pretty darn good year – if we end up 10-2.

Q. At one point you had one guy, seemed like you had the responsibility of special teams as one coach.
COACH PATERNO: That’s not true. We haven’t had that years and years and years, if ever. I can’t remember. We’ve always had one guy coaches this, one guy coaches that. Everybody helps out. But we never had where we had a specialty teams coach. Now, your memory plays tricks on you after you’ve been around as long as I have, but I don’t believe that.

Q. Do you think the process that you’re using now is working?
COACH PATERNO: I know where you’re coming from. No, it’s working. We just got to do a little better job, get some better people in there. That’s my problem, all right? I’ve got to make sure we get guys in there that can get the job done.
It’s not the scheme, it’s not the coaching, it’s a question of whether I’m giving them enough time or I’ve emphasized it enough and the whole bit.

Q. When you come out of a game like that, big picture, more cause for reflection going forward with personnel the rest of this year and beyond?
COACH PATERNO: Well, I don’t know ‘beyond’. I think you always evaluate personnel, even when you win. I think the first question I do every Sunday when we meet after a football game, win or lose, is say, Okay, let’s go down personnel. Anything we should change? Anybody we got out of place? Is there a better kid that we have overlooked? We do that every week, regardless. Obviously it becomes more dramatic when you lose because there’s always things such as questions you’re asking.
But, no, you know, Ohio State played a good football game. We lot licked by them. You hate to lose at home. But they played well. Didn’t put the ball on the ground. You know, we kicked the ball 10 times. We punted 10 times. We didn’t do a good job. We didn’t make a couple first downs so we wouldn’t have to kick.
You know, you just got to make sure you don’t overreact, that’s all, as a staff. I don’t think we’re gonna overreact.

Q. Senior Day. Can you talk about Sean Lee and then talk about what you tell your team, kind of reflect on this senior class, the contributions they brought to the table for you?
COACH PATERNO: Haven’t done it yet. I think a little later in the week as I watch practice, you know, we’ll sit around and talk a little bit about some of those intangible things that you’re talking about.
Right now I think we’ve got to focus on getting to be a little better football team, regardless of whether it involves seniors or involves kids. If I had to second guess myself a little bit on personnel, it might be that we decided to redshirt some kids who are pretty darn good athletes early because we didn’t think — because I didn’t want to play them 18, 20, 30 plays, tie up a year. So I have not really thought much about it, what I want to tell the seniors, because we got another game after this one.
I know where you’re coming from. I think it’s a good point. But I really can’t honestly tell you I’ve thought about it. I haven’t. Not yet. I will later in the week.

Q. Can you just explain the philosophy behind splitting up the special teams coaching? What are some of the benefits to that?
COACH PATERNO: Because that’s the way I like to do it. We’ve always done that. I grew up with that when I played in college. I grew up with it when I came here as an assistant coach.
I think if a guy is a linebacker coach, he’s got responsibilities there. You know, I think when they limit you to nine full-time coaches, you got to be careful you don’t take one out of the mix and doing nothing but working with specialty teams. You try to coordinate it so that you do have it.
You know, we haven’t been bad on special teams through the years. Let’s don’t get carried away, guys. I’m not about to change. I think we’re doing fine. I think the coaches are doing fine. As I mentioned earlier, if there’s anything that I would question, it’s whether we may not have the best people in there. That partly is because I decided that I didn’t want to use some young, good athletes early in the year because I didn’t want to just put them on a couple special teams. It had to be my decision, and that’s the one I made, and it may not be right.

Q. Indiana has two defensive ends who have been all-conference. How concerned are you about those guys?
COACH PATERNO: Very concerned. They’re two of the best ends we’re going to play against. Big, quick kids. Obviously, with the tackle situation what it is, most of the time you have to pass protect them. We’re very, very concerned about them.
I’m concerned about the whole Indiana football team. I mean, I think their defense is playing maybe not as dramatically as well as a club like Iowa or Ohio State, but those two kids, they’re tough. I think their whole scheme is good. They’re well-coached. They hustle all the time. So we’ve got our hands full. Those two guys are obviously the guys that create most of the problems.

Q. How would you evaluate your wide receivers, with the routes they were running? Looked like they were getting jammed at the line of scrimmage Saturday. Did they do a good job getting off of their coverage?
COACH PATERNO: Again, I’d be reluctant to be critical of those guys. I think they did all right. I’m not so sure I did a great job in some areas. But, you know, they’re young. Every once in a while they get in a new situation they have to adapt to, and they learn from it.
If I were to evaluate that game, I would say Ohio State just were quicker than we were. That may have been ’cause we may have been too emotional in our practices, what have you. I don’t know. But they looked quicker than we were Saturday. Whether they’re quicker than we are, you know, I’m not sure, but they were Saturday. I think that’s part of the reason the wideouts had their problems.

Q. You have two games left. How do you deal with letdown because there was so much hype from a week ago? You have two tough games remaining. How do you deal with it?
COACH PATERNO: You go out and practice, try to get better. You know, 8-2 isn’t a disaster. That’s where we are, all right? Now, you know, obviously when you lose to a couple good football teams at home, you don’t score a point in the second half against either one of ’em, you got some concerns. I got some concerns about that.
But I still think we have a bunch of kids that want to go out there and do well. For me to go out there and do anything but encourage them, that’s just not my style. I think we’ll go out there, we’ll practice hard this week, and we’ll see how good we are. We may not be good enough for Indiana, but we’ll find out.
But I’m not going to get into anything about what expectations people have, that so-and-so thought we were going to do this or that. I think that’s up to you guys. You guys can speculate all you want.

Q. Sean Lee and some of the other seniors in this class are probably some of the last players from that ’05 freshman class. Do you have any special affinity to those guys? Can you reflect on what they’ve done for the program?
COACH PATERNO: Sure I do. But, you know, I don’t have the luxury to sit around and say, Boy, I love so-and-so. We got a tough job ahead of us this week. We’ve got to concentrate on the job we’ve got to get done.
Yeah, you know, every time some of the kids come back into the locker room, we’re out in Chicago, Northwestern, there’s good eight, nine guys on the sideline, four of five I haven’t seen in years. I mean, you know, they brought back some memories of a lot of different situations. Every time Matt Millen comes up here to do a game, we get shooting the bull a little bit, You remember when so-and-so did this, so-and-so did that, all those kind of things.
Right now I don’t got time for that. We got to get our football team ready to play a little better than we’ve played all year ’cause it’s going to take a little better performance to beat Indiana. I don’t know how to explain it any other way but that.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.

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Nittany Lion Hotline recap

Here is your running update from Nittany Lion Hotline for Ohio State week.

YOUR HOST: The man, Steve Jones, who last week had one of the funniest lines I’ve ever heard during a football broadcast, when during the problem the officials had spotting the ball, once it was announced where the ball would be placed, Steve slipped in a “we know.” You had to hear it. I howled.

PRESENTING SPONSOR: As always this season, Nittany Lion Hotline is brought to you by Sinus Buster Nasal Spray (I’ve switched back to Afrin myself, but hey, whatever clears your nose in this crappy fall weather).

THE BIG NEWS: Joe did not like the “Terrelle Cryer” t-shirt. He applauds Pryor for being a good kid. Sounds like The Godfather was the one that put the ki-bosh on the shirt. “Paulie? Oh we won’t see him no more.”

THE BIG NEWS II: Stephfon Green will be ready this week. Joe said he had a good Wednesday of practice and looked good today as well. But added if they have to play Beachum, Beachum won’t hurt them.

THE NOT BIG NEWS BUT WORTH MENTIONING NEWS: Jones reports in the first segment that the line to get into the overnight RV lot was already long today. You fans, I’ll tell ya…does anybody work on Friday’s in-state anymore? (Sidebar: I think it would be a great story to say fly to a far away state and travel into town with fans that drive a RV. Any takers? I’ll bring beer)

PLAYER GUEST: Defensive tackle Jared Odrick is up tonight. Good time as ever to pimp him.

  • Odrick says it’s easy to get pumped up for a game like Ohio State.
  • Defense has been able to get better, and he says that Odrick has this ability to feel out the blocks before they happen.
  • He prefers 3-technique.
  • No brainer that Pryor is the guy they are focusing on and that they have to play solid and sound defense vs. him.
  • Pryor is deceptively quick. “Sideline to sideline he is really fast and we know he likes to get to that sideline and get out of bounds before he cuts back.” (interesting….pinky to mouth)
  • Talking about the support the team receives, Odrick says that ON THE ROAD, at Michigan the crowd in the PSU end was so loud that Tate Forcier had trouble getting a snap off. Geesh.

JOE ARRIVAL TIME: 6:25 eastern standard time, 3:25 in California and I believe 1:25 pm in H-A-W-A-II, Joseph Vincent Paterno makes his long awaited return to the Hotline show…it’s been a long two weeks since we last heard from the coach. And in that two weeks, nothing has happened.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Darla, or as Joe calls her, ‘Darler’ calls in to say she has a bitchin’ tailgate planned this week. Joe says that he hopes the postgame tailgate is better. (I would pay straight cash homey to see Joe swing by a tailgate and shotgun a Keystone Light with some co-eds. That would be in-cred-ible)
  • Joe burns Roger from Emmaus, who tries to match X’s and O’s. Don’t challenge him, Rog. Don’t challenge him.
  • Joe is breaking down the passing game now. Z-cross, X-Y out, whatever just happened to saying “you go to the car and run a post, you go to the fire hydrant and run a comeback?
  • The two down lineman are really good for OSU per JVP.
  • “They’re a tough team to run against. This will be a good, tough football game. The guy that makes the least mistakes will probably win.”
  • Joe says if they make mistakes, they will get licked. If Ohio State makes mistakes, they will get licked. SOMEONE IS GETTING LICKED!

SEGMENT No. 2 WITH JOE

  • Al Golden’s got Temple cooking, per Joe.
  • Caller says his kid goes to PSU and saw Joe driving this summer and his son waved at Joe and Joe waved back. Joe says: “I wasn’t waving at him, I was running out of gas.”….BADA BOOM!
  • Joe pimps Daryll Clark again. (Note: more on this tomorrow, I got something planned for this here space y’all will love, and hopefully eat up about DC)

SEGMENT No. 3 WITH JOE

  • Joe says the wide receivers had great potential coming into the season, Joe adds that they haven’t exceeded expectations but they have come along faster than they thought they would. (apparently people really don’t read newspapers anymore because everyone on the beat has written this, over and over.)
  • Joe gets a call from someone who is talking about how much he means to the state of PA (Joe, not the caller), and Joe says “I’m gonna tape this conversation and give it to my wife.” BOOM. ROASTED.

FINAL SEGMENT WITH JOE

  • Joe says they practiced well this week and they did a little more than they usually do on Monday to “see where we are.”
  • Joe won’t say for sure if Ohio State is the biggest rival for PSU. He mentions Iowa and Michigan State. I’d vote for Iowa, but you have to beat the team every now and then…you know, in order for it to be a rivalry. Ohio State is definitely PSU’s biggest rival and it’s the biggest game in the Big Ten annually right now, thanks to the 2005 game.
  • Joe thinks Terrelle Pryor made a good choice in picking Ohio State for his school.
  • Joe wants the crowd to be loud “but don’t be mean spirited. I hate booing. Let’s just hope we play as well as we can play and they play as well as they can play and let’s see what happens.” Then he adds “but you can help us be better by being loud.”

Joe exits stage left.

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Big Ten Picks

Before I get to the picks for this week, allow me to direct you over to Jeff Rice’s column in today’s Centre Daily Times.

Nail, meet hammer.

All this talk this week that certain players from Penn State aren’t getting just due from the beat writers is total bubkiss. Rice points that out.

What I will continue to point out in defense of my journalist brothers and sisters is this. It ain’t our job to promote the players. Like I said earlier this week we have guys we definitely root for. For me, it’s a guy like Clark, I will always be willing to admit that.

If Joe is concerned that his players aren’t getting promoted, look no further than the school itself. Paterno and gang have never promoted players vying for awards properly. Ever.

Before every season members of the FWAA get all kinds of propaganda from schools that have award candidates. Tennessee sent out a media guide just for Eric Berry this season. Illinois sent out a DVD of Juice Williams and Arrelious Benn. Oklahoma sent stuff out for players, Notre Dame too.

Penn State as recently as 2002, when Larry Johnson was a finalist, didn’t do much to help his cause. Same for Mike Robinson in 2005.

Create a notepad, give me a DVD, promote the guys. Do something. But don’t blame the media for lack of credit bestowed among players. That’s just not fair.

PICKS

LAST WEEK: 4-1, thanks Northwestern for the comeback, ruining  a perfect week. Almost hit exactly on Ohio State-Minn. Had 37-7, was 38-7.

ON THE SEASON: 47-14

NEW MEXICO STATE vs. OHIO STATE, Noon, Big Ten Network

Buckeyes are rolling, should not let down headed into Penn State in a week. I think Pryor has another huge game and the Buckeyes need to do something to fix the running game as a whole.

The Pick: Ohio State 35, New Mexico State 10

PURDUE at WISCONSIN, Noon, ESPN2

Badgers have to curtail the bit of a tailspin, Purdue is fighting for bowl eligibility…and that won’t be easy. I still like the Badgers running game here, especially at home. Purdue beat Illinois last week, proving nothing after that Ohio State win, so I am still not sure what we can expect from them.

The Pick: Wisconsin 24, Purdue 12

MICHIGAN at ILLINOIS, 3:30, ABC

If Illinois was ever going to break its slump, this would be the week. And that’s not meant as a disrespect to Michigan, they are definitely the better team, but how much did getting crushed at home by Penn State take out of the Wolverines?

I’ll say not much. Nice rebound this week. Does Illinois have a quarterback yet? Do they have a head coach?

The Pick: Michigan 27, Illinois 9

MICHIGAN STATE at MINNESOTA, 8 pm, Big Ten Network

Feel awful for the Spartans because they had that game against Iowa last week. Going to Minnesota to close October, at night, outside, that’s not going to be good. Weather for the game calls for 37-degrees, will feel like 31. No thanks.

Michigan State showed me something battling last week and I still believe they are on the rise toward the end of the season. But Minnesota at home should be tough.

The Pick: Michigan State 24, Minnesota 20

PENN STATE at NORTHWESTERN, 4:30, ESPN

I would call this a trap game if Penn State hadn’t beaten Ohio State last year. Then they might be looking ahead too much. Northwestern cannot run the ball, I am not sure anyone up front can block Jared Odrick and Daryll Clark will continue his hot streak with Derek Moye and Chaz Powell.

It’s expected Stephfon Green returns next week, so Brandon Beachum is your No. 2 tailback again. I think my final score will look closer than the game really indicates.

The Pick: Penn State 37, Northwestern 20

MAIN EVENT

INDIANA at IOWA, Noon, ESPN

You get the feeling the Hawkeyes are living a bit of a charmed life right now, and if this game were on the road I might be a little more suspect.

I think Indiana is definitely a live underdog in this game, but again, Iowa City is becoming so impossible to play in if you are the opponent.

How will Iowa compete without Adam Robinson? Or Dace Richardson? Colin Sandeman is likely out too. Iowa has a chance to prove something here, but I am beginning to believe they cannot survive much longer.

The Pick: Iowa 27, IU 20

 

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Midweek rumblings

Since when did anyone say Daryll Clark isn’t the right guy for Penn State, or isn’t a good quarterback?

All of a sudden there’s this “Daryll isn’t getting as much credit” push from Penn State.

Again, I ask, since when?

 

Daryll Clark

No one doubts that Penn State quarterback Daryll Clark is among the best quarterbacks in the country/Morning Call Photo

He’s been the face of the football team since his first collegiate start in 2008. The only time anyone on the beat ever doubted Clark was back when he was battling Pat Devlin…and that’s only because no one had any idea what was in store for either going into 2008.

 

We all found out quickly.

Still, some feel it’s necessary to state the obvious when it comes to Clark and make it out as if those on the beat have shunned him all the while yet someone is now championing his cause.

Please, we haven’t shunned him.

Anyone who’s read beat writers such as myself, Rich Scarcella, Jeff Rice, Cory Giger or (now Philly Inq Eagles writer) Jeff McLane, just to name a few over the last two years, knows we love the kid.

Dare I say some of us (me included in this argument) root for him to do well, which is supposed to be a no-no in our profession, but I will fully admit to being a fan of DC and maybe that’s come through in my work over the last two years and maybe it hasn’t. Either way I don’t care. He’s a good story, a better kid, and a great leader and we’ve all noticed.

Some just need to open their eyes and read a little more.

That doesn’t mean he is immune from stating the other obvious though. Penn State may end up two games away from back-to-back perfect seasons, both losses to Iowa in which Clark does share some of the blame. He probably still takes too much of it for this year’s loss. But he did not produce in last year’s loss, and outside of two drives, the offense stalled against them this year.

Those are facts. As tough as they are to digest, there is good and bad with everyone and everything. And those who get paid to be objective are supposed to point those out.

FIVE THINGS I THINK I THINK GOING INTO WEEK 9

1. Iowa cannot survive without Adam Robinson: Or can they? Is there a team that is better suited to handle adversity than the Hawkeyes right now? Let’s see, go on the road and win at Penn State. Check. Win at Wisconsin, check. Win in the final seconds on the road at Michigan State? Check. Is there a more charmed life in the Big Ten? I’m going against the grain here and will say they survive and win out.

2. Northwestern is not a trap game for Penn State: Sure it’s sandwiched in between Michigan and Ohio State, but because the Nittany Lions won at the ‘Shoe last year, there is no pressure to look ahead. If either team does, it will be Ohio State, but they will not come close to struggling with New Mexico State.

3. Speaking of the Buckeyes… Jim Tressel is feeling the heat when it comes to Terrelle Pryor, whether he wants to admit it or not. Tressel got a touch snippy with me on the Big Ten call yesterday and you can tell he is sick and tired of answering questions about Pryor’s development and confidence. They are, however, fair questions.

4. Going to East Lansing? Yeah, good luck. Especially with the season winding down. I’d say two teams in the conference, if they got do-overs for some tough losses would rip through those opponents now. One of them is Penn State, the other is Michigan State.

5. If you can’t run, you won’t win: More obvious than anything here. But two teams in the conference, Northwestern and Ohio State, have used their quarterbacks as primary rushers the last couple of weeks. Memo to both teams, stop. Yeah, Terrelle Pryor needs to run because he is a freak and it’s part of his arsenal, so I almost give Ohio State a pass there, but Mike Kafka? Hey Coach Fitz, are you trying to get him killed?

STILL ALIVE

No, not about the Big Ten, but my prediction of Oregon to the Rose Bowl is still very much alive and well, and while I love watching USC and would root for them if I wasn’t such a Miami nut or bandwagon-driving Notre Dame apologist now, I have to pull for the Ducks on Saturday night because being right and saying I told you so is better than, well anything else sometimes.

NOTRE DAME BANDWAGON FACTOR

Yes, I still believe they will win out and go to the BCS. Call the Bandwagon factor +9 right now.

Enjoy the rest of your week, Yankees in six.

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Tuesday Cup of Joe: Chi-town edition

Penn State head coach Joe Paterno has concluded his weekly chit-chat with beat reporters. Here’s the info you need.

THE BIG NEWS: Running back Stephfon Green is “probably” out again this week against Northwestern.

THE BIG NEWS II: Joe says he is somewhat worried about the leadership of older players because they have had so few “big games”…but Joe says when he sees the interaction at practice and the prep for the week he thinks they can be really good sometimes. He said he felt that way going into Michigan.

THE BIG NEWS PART III: “Each game I am more worried about the kicking game,” says Joe. That coming after another punt was blocked this past weekend.

THE BIG NEWS PART IV: It’s McCormick and Poti for the RT spot, meanwhile DeOn’Tae Pannell has been moved over to LT to back up Dennis Landolt. Joe said Pannell is getting healthier and McCormick will be OK.

JOE-SPEAK: Joe said it’s a question of “IF” they can beat Northwestern, not who they have the week after. OK, sir.

JOE SPEAK II: “Haven’t got the slightest idea,” about the Northwestern defense.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Joe says Navorro Bowman is fine.
  • The team is getting to where it needs to be for the stretch run (they are getting very, very warm right now. Very warm)
  • Joe noticed Ron Vanderlinden when he was Pat Fitzgerald’s linebacker coach at Northwestern. “I wondered who was coaching the linebackers” Joe said referring to the way Fitz played.
  • Joe doesn’t think that Daryll Clark has gotten as much credit as he deserves, and he says the same for Jared Odrick and Navorro Bowman. (Isn’t it the school’s responsibility to pimp its players? There has been plenty written about all three of those guys the last two years. Put out some promotional work…trust me, everyone on the team understands there are players who are better than they are.)
  • Northwestern is somewhat of a trap game. Joe says they are totally focused on the Wildcats and not thinking of anyone else at this point.
  • About JC transfers, Joe says they look for kids who will go to class and do well there, he said both Poti and McCormick have done that, and he cited Rich Mauti as a good example of how JC transfers work.
  • Quarless was spoiled, but he is turning the corner.
  • Joe says that Zug has gotten more opportunities and has done well. Said that people are “scared to death” of Powell and Moye, leaving Zug open.
  • Mike Kafka “knows what the game is all about,” says Joe, adding he’s been there for a while.
  • Brandon Beachum understands his role and the running game. Joe added he was a great linebacker in HS. Don’t get any wise ideas old man.
  • You’ve got to be careful with back-to-back road trips. Joe said the two previous ones haven’t been as long…note that last week, the flight from State College to Detroit is very easy. Takes maybe an hour and fifteen. From here in Harrisburg its a very short trip. This is a very good point made by Joe.
  • Joe said the weather plays a role in how they assess the team they are playing and what they can do in whatever weather. (I don’t think weather played a role last week, PSU is just better)

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