A few thoughts heading into a nice, relaxing bye week...
1. Worth The Rest? Joe Paterno's teams have done quite well in games following a bye. Since 1980, Penn State is a very nice 17-9 coming off a bye. Five of those 30 seasons did not have a bye in the schedule (1983, 1988, 2006, 2007, 2009). Of course, Penn State has been a pretty good football program since 1980, so it's likely the .607 win percentage off bye weeks is more due to the Nittany Lions being favored to win, rather than getting the extra week to prepare. But since I'm part of the Amateur Blog Mob, what else to I have to do on a Monday morning? So for your entertainment, I've compiled the historical data for bye weeks from the past 30 Penn State football seasons. The results are interesting:
|Penn State Record Following Bye Weeks 1980-2010|
|Year||Previous Game||Following Bye||Result|
|2005||W||at Michigan State||W|
|1998||W||at Ohio State||L|
|1994||W||vs Ohio State||W|
|1993||L||at Ohio State||L|
|1992||L||at Notre Dame||L|
|1987||L||vs West Virginia||W|
|1986||W||at Boston College||W|
|1984||W||at Notre Dame||L|
|1980||W||at Texas A&M||W|
|Off a Win:||12-5(.705)|
|Off a Loss:||5-4(.555)|
There are many outside factors that go into these numbers. But when Penn State comes off a win, it's generally a good thing heading into the bye. If the following game is at home, even better. And considering how poor the perception may be of Penn State's success on the road, the winning record in away games following bye weeks is pretty impressive. Let's hope these trends continue this year.
A Time To Heal... This team is tired, dead tired. No better example of this is the one-man offense known as Silas Redd. The poor kid was supposed to carry a lighter load against Illinois, with Joe Paterno even mentioning so during the week. Redd was carrying the ball 25 times a game during the Big Ten schedule. That's tough sledding for even the best backs, which Redd happens to be one. This isn't to say Redd can't handle or doesn't want the job. He's probably the best-conditioned player on the team. But physical limits are always present.
Redd was supposed to carry about 15 times against Illinois. Final number of attempts: 30. That's not just a few more. That's DOUBLE the number of expected carries. Chris addressed a bit of the running back situation in his recap this morning, how it's not really making any sense as to who gets to spell Redd in any particular game.
But Redd is just the example. Derek Moye is still hurting, even though his heroics helped bail out the offense against Illinois. Joe Suhey is still sidelined. And you've got to expect that the offensive and defensive lines are absolutely gassed at this point of the season, especially Devon Still and Jordan Hill.
This is the absolute best week this season for a bye.
At least someone is listening... I have my opinions pretty much set on Stewart Mandel. They are similar to most MSM pundits. But in a rare moment of clarity, someone--anyone--is finally catching on to the idea that a strong defense might just be a better option than a strong offense:
What's the difference between 8-1 Penn State and 7-1 Arkansas, which both suffered their sole loss to No. 2 Alabama? The Nittany Lions win with defense, not offense. Period.
I've been wondering myself about why Arkansas has been given so much more clout than Penn State in the rankings. The Razorbacks and Nittany Lions share Alabama as a common opponent. Arkansas lost by 24; Penn State lost by 16. And don't give me the argument that Pig Sooie's schedule is tougher. Their best win was over now-plummeting Texas A&M (which I said over and over was overrated because it doesn't play defense), and had to squeak by Mississippi and Vanderbilt (VANDERBILT!) last week.
Happy Monday, everyone. And Happy 8-1!