Who Shot Who In The What, Now? Oregon State (0-1) at Penn State (1-0). The Beavers lost 36-28 to Stanford last week. Penn State steamrolled little Coastal Carolina 66-10. Kickoff at 3:30 p.m.
Thanks, I Just Had It Stuffed! The Beavers are the second best Pac-10 team over the past two seasons. Seriously. Their defense was one of the best in the entire nation last season, but they have an entirely new front seven this year. Not so coincidentally, Stanford ran for 210 yards against the Beavers last week. Offensively, they have more than enough playmakers to legitimately scare you. Now that their defense has weakened significantly, they're the stereotypical Pac-10 team. And holy crap, did they rack up a ton of penalties against Stanford (12 for 100 yards).
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A Sticky Icky Situation: Yes, the thing that happened early Wednesday morning. The apartment of four Penn State players contained an amount of marijuana somewhere between a blunt and a metric assload. Probably closer to the former. The players involved -- Abe Koroma, Maurice Evans, Andrew Quarless, and A.J. Wallace -- were held out of practice Wednesday. Temporarily putting aside the "should they play?" question for a moment, the effect of their absence on the Penn State defense cannot be understated. Take Wallace out of the secondary, and the matchup between the Oregon State receivers and Penn State cornerbacks slips from "hopeful push" to "WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE" territory. Evans' pass rushing role can be filled somewhat by Aaron Maybin, but let's face it, Evans is the best player on defense. You just don't replace that. If Koroma's suspended for Saturday, it just makes the defensive tackle rotation that much weaker. Before the season, we saw the abundant defensive tackle depth dwindle when Chris Baker and Phillip Taylor were dismissed. We can't, uhh...afford to take any more hits.
Where Can I See It? ABC. You probably have it. Here's the coverage map. Supposedly, if you don't get the game on ABC, you can get it on ESPN2.
Don't Park On A Hill: The weather? Mostly iffy with a 30% chance of getting your car stuck in the yellow parking lots. The remnants from Tropical Storm Hanna are supposed to sweep through the area, but the computer models have been shifting the storm eastward. Accuweather has backed off its calls for endless rain and is now calling for "a little rain." The National Weather Service changed their forecast from a 70% chance of thunderstorms to a lower probability and intensity. It might not actually be that bad, after all.
Expected precipitation from Hanna? Get a boat if you're in Philly. Bring a poncho to the game.
PSU Offense vs. Oregon State Defense: Should be a big advantage to the Lions. Oregon State doesn't defend the run very well, and Penn State will confront them with much better running backs and an infinitely better offensive line. Oregon State is obviously no Coastal Carolina, but Penn State should have their way with the Beavers. Stop snickering. If the Happy Valley Bongjockeys aren't going to be playing this weekend, I would hope that the PSU offense would employ a time-chewing ground attack to keep its defense fresh.
Oregon State Offense vs. PSU Defense: Could be dicey, and quite frankly, had the potential to be dangerous even before the scandal du jour. Oregon State has a number of playmakers, including a pair of running backs (the Rodgers brothers --Jacquizz and the blandly named James) and a pair of receivers who combined for 25 receptions, 308 yards, and three TD's last week (Sammie Stroughter and Shane Morales). Lyle Moevao threw for 404 yards against Stanford, but having watched the game twice, I wasn't overly impressed. He's a short guy and susceptible to tipped passes for interceptions (the Cardinal got one of those last week) and throws a number of shaky passes. One such pass stuck out last week, a floater to the flat which would have been an easy pick-six for a corner with great recovery speed, like...A.J. Wallace. Crap. They also throw a lot of stuff over the middle, which could spell trouble for Josh Hull, Anthony Scirrotto, and Mark Rubin.
While You Wait: How about some Smelley Balls?
What Will We Learn About Penn State: What's between the ears. Last season, the team ran into some off-field difficulties and responded by putting together its best game of the year against Wisconsin. How many times can a team -- players and coaches -- circle the wagons effectively?
Will We Win?: Yeah, but there's definitely upset potential. It'll be closer than the 16 1/2 points the Lions are currently favored by, that's for sure. A lot of it will depend on whether the Midnight Tokers will play. I'm expecting them to be in street clothes, but that's just a stone cold hunch. Mike Riley's a very good offensive coach, and you know he'll find holes in the PSU defense. Expect a shootout.