Sitting on top of the Leaders division is a place I like to be, especially since there's only two teams in the division with a conference win after this week (LOL Wisconsin; dammit, OSU). That being said, victory is sweet but asskicking is a lot sweeter; let's get into some links.
I'm not a Dave Jones fan, and that's okay, because he's not a fan of Penn State, the team he covers. Despite that, though, he put together a respectable piece today on this year's team defying the preconceived notions most followers of the Nittany Lion program have had for years:
And one of the benchmarks I've been using in measuring the new regime of Penn State football is the way things were done in the old one. Gradually, I'm beginning to learn that not many of them apply...
...In its current state, PSU might get some irreplaceable players knocked out by injury and be depleted enough that it simply is beaten by better teams. But I'm finding it harder and harder to believe that this squad will be beaten by lack of preparation, lack of intensity, or an unwillingness to maximize its personnel.
If you can get past his penchant for one-sentence paragraphs, Frank Bodani of the YDR does a Mauti-centric writeup that talks of the senior's impact on the team, and this game in particular:
But in terms of meaning and emotion, the Penn State linebacker's improbable return was even more significant, no matter that it produced no points. If there ever was a day when six tackles and two interceptions failed to convey proper bravado and impact, it would be this one.
"Mauti's a helluva player, man, and we expect him to make those type of plays in big situations," senior cornerback Stephon Morris said. "It was a game-changer. "You ain't see him before the game?" Morris said, continuing on. "That was the craziest I've ever seen him. He was amped. He was on something. I don't know what he was on but ... "He was like banging his head against the locker and all this other stuff. He had the defense going for the whole game, on the sideline, before the game, after the game."
No surprise, then, that Mauti was the most vocal Lion in his disdain for the Illini's "recruiting" tactics over the past couple of months. For the most part, though, he did step back from the issue after Penn State's victory, talking almost in a polite tone about the importance of winning a Big Ten opener and moving on. He even downplayed his well-known emotion.
The Altoona Mirror also discussed the Walter Camp Football Foundation's Defensive Player of the Week. The winner of the best headline for a post-game article, however, comes from the west coast; per the LA Times, "Penn State Linebacker Transfers Pain to Illinois":
Mauti, a senior, wasn't made available to the media last week in the days leading up to the game. The reason was clear: Mauti hadn't minced words about his feelings for Illinois at Big Ten media day...
"You're going to sit here and wish our program well and then try to pull the legs out from underneath us and take our kids?" Mauti said of the Illinois coaches. "Well, you are playing by the rules. But there really are no rules. If you're gonna wish us well and then try to take our kids, then I got a problem with that."
Once the game started, the problems all belonged to Illinois.
On to other players: Despite a subpar (for this year) performance, Matt Hinton, he of Sunday Morning Quarterback fame, had this to say about the quarterback most on the Penn State bandwagon love to hate:
With his two rushing touchdowns today, Matt McGloin of Penn State now has four this season, tying him with Michigan's Denard Robinson and putting him ahead of Nebraska's Rex Burkhead and Wisconsin's Montee Ball. Granted, Ball and Burkhead still haven't played this weekend, but who would have thought such a statistic would ever exist? In 2011, McGloin rushed 24 times for a net of -12 yards and 0 touchdowns.
Hinton's former blog, Dr Saturday, got into the revenge theme a bit with this game:
No matter the argument about the legality of Illinois' actions, it still seemed like an audacious move against a conference foe that was struggling during a tough time.
Penn State didn't forget, and took out all of its anger on Saturday.
The Nittany Lions pummeled Illinois 35-7 in front of the Illini's home fans (the ones who showed up and stayed, anyway), and the game was just as lopsided as the score would indicate.
Around the PSU blogosphere: Tim over at VBR has his take of the game, and Nittany Lions Den says that the Nittany Lions accomplished what they needed to this weekend. ESPN's Nittany Nation also provided their own instant analysis.
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