Head up Gents, it was a tough year for all of us. We STILL are Penn State! (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
So the season comes to an end and we can take a final look back at past opponents on Penn State’s schedule. When you look at the schedule as a whole, there are very few elite teams on it. Alabama would be the only team I categorize as an ‘elite’ team; if Wisconsin had one less loss I might throw them in there too, but they aren’t even in the top 10. However, on the flip side, there was only one true pushover and that would be 1-9 Indiana. The Hoosiers were the only team on Penn State’s schedule to finish less than .500. 11 of 12 teams have a 6-6 record or better, and 5 have that record. So what does that all mean? A lot of mediocrity no doubt, but can we say it was ‘weak’? There will be no less than 5 bowl teams when the selections come out and there could be as many as 8 although I don’t think you’ll see Northwestern, Purdue, Illinois, and Ohio State all get bowls at 6-6. Point being, the schedule was not as easy as I anticipated at the beginning of the season. With all that has happened over this season, on and off the field, I’m happy with Penn State’s 9-3 record. Not satisfied, but happy it’s not worse.
#2 Alabama (11-1)
Beat Auburn 42-14
Auburn scored on a fumble recovery in the endzone and on an 83 yard kickoff return and that was it. The Alabama defense shut the Tigers out offensively and Trent Richardson rushed for a career-high 203 yards. A.J. McCarron tossed three touchdowns as the Tide built a 24-7 halftime lead and cruised from there. Tiger tailback Mike Dyer, the SEC’s second leading rusher, was held to 48 yards on 13 carries. Now ‘Bama can sit around and wait for their ticket to the BCS title game which will most likely be another SEC team. ESPN’s plan is falling into place nicely.
Eastern Michigan (6-6)
Lost to Northern Illinois 18-12
Eastern closed a 18-6 deficit on a 24-yard touchdown pass by Alex Gillett late in the fourth quarter but were stopped on their final drive. NIU got 148 yards and a TD (68 yarder) from running back Chandler Harnish to put themselves back in the MAC championship game for the second straight year. The Eagles were led in rushing and passing by Gillett (147 yards passing, 67 yards rushing) but fell just short.
Beat Kent State 34-16
Temple ended the season on a 3-game winning streak with a 34-16 beat down of the Kent State Golden Flashes. Running back Bernard Pierce was all the Owls needed running 24 times for 189 yards and 3 touchdowns. Temple broke open a 17-9 third quarter lead with 3 unanswered scores (2 TD’s and 1 FG) late in the third and early in the fourth quarter. Last season Temple was the only program in the country with a winning record that was left out of a bowl. With an 8-4 record that won’t happen this season.
Lost to Purdue 33-25
Indiana’s horrible season comes to a merciful end at the hands of Purdue. Indiana actually had a 7-point second quarter lead but let Purdue score 5 straight times (2 TD’s and 3 FG’s). Indiana scored with 8:22 to go in the game and got the ball back for one more drive but that drive and the Hoosiers season ended on a Tre Roberson interception at the Purdue 22. The Boilermakers rank the clock out after that for the final score. Purdue got over 500 yards of offense including 192 from Caleb TerBush who completed 16 of his 25 passes and 1 TD. Indiana actually played decent defense even with those numbers, shutting out an opponent in a quarter for the first time in 29 tries, that’s how bad it’s been for Hoosiers. Purdue now waits to see if a .500 record will get them an invite to a bowl.
Lost to Nebraska 20-7
After a beat down at the hands of the Wolverines, the Cornhuskers responded by bludgeoning Iowa with Rex Burkhead. Burkhead ran 38 times for 160 yards and a score. Iowa came out flat, turned the ball over twice and didn’t score until a meaningless 4th-quarter touchdown with 3:26 left in the game with Nebraska up 20-0. The Blackshirts also shut down Iowa threat Marvin McNutt, holding the record-setting receiving to just 4 catches for 29 yards.
Beat Indiana 33-25
Lost to Michigan State 31-17
You could forgive Michigan State for looking ahead to the Big Ten championship game, after all, they were in no matter what the outcome of this game. But Sparty kept focused and Kirk Cousins became the school’s career TD passing leader with 2 more. Cousins finished with 214 yards B.J. Cunningham caught six of those for 120 yards and both scores. Wide receiver Keshawn Martin returned a punt 57 yards just before half to take a 17-3 lead and the Michigan State defense made it stick getting 6 sacks.
Lost to Minnesota 27-7
Ron Zook lost his sixth straight game and his job against Minnesota. The Golden Gophers scored the game’s first 27 points before the Fighting Zookers managed a meaningless touchdown with 4:25 to play. Illinois was held to less than 100 yards passing and managed only 160 total. Minnesota quarterback MarQueis Gray tossed a touchdown and ran 27 times for 167 yards and 2 more scores. Gray became the school’s rushing leader for a quarterback in a single season finishing with 966.
Ohio State (6-6)
Lost to Michigan 40-34
Denard Robinson threw for 167 yards and ran for 170, scoring 5 touchdowns and finally beat Ohio State for the first time in 7 tries. The game was back and forth with the Buckeyes leading at halftime 24-23. Michigan scored 2 TD’s and a field goal to Ohio State’s 1 TD and a field goal for the final score. After holding Michigan to a field goal with 1:59 to play, Braxton Miller was intercepted at the Ohio State 49 for the Buckeye’s last play of the game. OSU running back Dan Herron was held to 37 yards but Miller was able to beat the Wolverine’s defense for 100 yards and a touchdown. He also threw for 235 yards and two scores but was not able to keep pace with Robinson.