HEY! BLOG MOB!
Last week, JoePa's Doghouse went rogue and completed a hostile takeover of the Blue/White Roundtable. But not this week. Not now. I've taken back control of the Amateur Blog Mob!
So we're back to normal (for now), with the D-O-double-G's (including new respondent Tony McHugh (@t_money495), BSD Editor Emeritus Jeff Junstrom, Matt de Bear and Eric Sion from Victory Bell Rings, Kevin McGuire from the Nittany Lions Den, and Zach Fegely, Ali Soho, Matthew Pencek, Bill Engel, LB, and Tim Johnson from PennLive's 50-Yard Lion blog!
Let's get this out of the way. The Internet exploded after Saturday's loss to Indiana. Were you as surprised as most seemed to be? What was the biggest problem?
The Underdogs: Bark.
Matt: I don't know how you couldn't be surprised at the way the game played out. The Hoosiers had one of the worst statistical defenses in the country, but PSU, despite the 410 yards of offense, never really felt like they got much going, especially on the ground. Much like (angry) OB, I've moved on though, and am ready for Michigan. If nothing else, a 20 point loss in Bloomington should have woken this squad up.
Rowlff Dogg: I figured that Indiana would put up points on us. As we saw, their offense is pretty good and our not-healthy-enough defense is quite suspect. I just never thought we would surrender more points than we scored.
The biggest problem was Bill O'Brien's playcalling. If you didn't know better, you'd have thought Sudfeld was the true freshman quarterback, not Hackenberg. Wilson did a tremendous job of making Sudfeld's life easy. O'Brien's playcalls forced Hackenberg to be perfect at times. That's a lot to put on a young quarterback's shoulders. Especially when Indiana has one of the worst rushing defenses in the country.
Kevin: I was not nearly as surprised at the loss to Indiana because I felt the Hoosiers had the weapons that could expose Penn State's deficiencies the way Central Florida did a few weeks earlier. I also believe Indiana has one of the top offense sin the Big Ten and are usually going to be dangerous. What I was surprised by was just how the game steam rolled out of control without Penn State being able to find a way to slow down the boulder running toward them. Having a game unravel like that after a bye week was also a tad concerning.
When you have a team depleted in scholarship players and take a freshman quarterback on the road in conference play, it can be a tough situation. I think this loss was just a perfect mixture that favored Indiana.
Bill: It pains me to say this but the biggest problem is the coaching on both sides of the ball. The defense was adequate in the first half but Indiana made adjustments and we did not. We simply could not stop the screen in the second half. The fact that we inexplicably had a Freshman QB in his first Big Ten road game throw over 50 passes against what was one of the the worst run defenses in college football is simply mind boggling. The decision to go for it on 4th down on our end when the game was not yet lost was somewhat understandable given the fact that the defense had not stopped Indiana; but the game was still winnable until that point. After the turnover, that was a 14 point swing. At the end of the day, the stats for both teams were comparable; this game was lost on the intangibles.
Tim: I think that up to this point, I've been a bit dishonest with myself about the talent level on our team, so I guess I'm not as much surprised as I am disappointed-deep down, I knew we had some issues, but I was perfectly happy overlooking them if we remained competitive. Well now that we've hit B1G play, there's nowhere to hide. The thing is, despite all of our shortcomings Saturday's game was perfectly winnable.
Mistakes happen (even egregious ones like the botched FG and fumbled kickoff), but my biggest issue from Saturday was the game planning. Force a true freshman to throw 55 times to a receiving corps with 1.5 competent targets? I might have been watching a different game, but I swear that when we committed to the run, we moved the ball, burned clock, and kept Indiana's offense off the field. When we abandoned the run, we stalled out. Indiana gave up half a kilometer of rushing yards to Navy-why not follow their lead, except without the goofy triple option stuff?
We've had our share of heartbreakers and memories against Michigan. What's the most memorable win? What's the most brutal loss?
The Underdogs: Arf.
Kevin: The most memorable win may be the 1994 game. Third-ranked and undefeated Penn State traveling to Ann Arbor to take on fifth-ranked Michigan and then handing the Wolverines the loss was the game that put Penn State on top of the polls. Well, for a week anyway. I still say the 1994 Penn State team was the best I have ever had the fortune of watching, and for one week they showed why they were the best team in the country that season.
On the flip side, take your pick. The 2005 game was painful, but ultimately did not crush the hopes for that season. Even if they had won that game in a full 60 minutes it was probably unlikely the BCS would have slid Michael Robinson and company in to the BCS Championship game ahead of USC or Texas. As good as Penn State was that season, I'll never be caught asking "What if?" with regard to that scenario.
It's a toss up for me between 2002 and 1997. The 1997 season looked like everything was running smoothly but a couple of close calls against Minnesota and Northwestern probably should have been an omen for the pain to come against fourth-ranked Michigan. Michigan flat out destroyed No. 2 Penn State, 34-7, to kick start the long and painful string of nine straight victories in the series.
Eric: I'm not a lifetime Penn State fan like a lot of the students and alumni I know. I started to get into them early in my high school career. But the win during my freshman year (2010) was memorable because it was the first whiteout I ever experienced, it was a night game and it was Matt McGloin's first start (and he played quite well). 2008 was also great because Penn State absolutely obliterated Michigan after that slow start. Most brutal loss is obviously 2005. Nothing more needs to be said about that.
Jeff: Win: Breaking the streak in 2008, and doing it in decisive fashion, was pretty nice, even if #LOLRichRod. Loss: I was in the stands at Michigan Stadium for the 14-9 stinkfest in '07, but that doesn't compare to the worst. I can't speak to the years before I was able to comprehend football, but 2005 is one of the most heartbreaking losses of my lifetime, in college football or otherwise. I was able to watch it with my father and brother, which itself was a treat. Then, we were 2 seconds from victory and a family celebration when the horror came upon us. An hour later my father was asked to leave the local Texas Roadhouse, so that covers that.
@t_money495: All that is good, fair, and right in the world college football when Appy State whooped up on Michigan, but I suppose I'd answer for a PSU win-- 2010 at home for 3 straight wins carrying that streak into this weekend.
What's the most brutal loss? 2000. This marked my personal witnessing of a 4-year losing streak to Michigan as a student and served as an upsetting basis for the next generation of students to expect losses to Michigan.
Ali: 2005 was the most brutal loss to date, Michigan gets two seconds put back on the clock, Avant catches the ball with his foot out of bounds, Hart fumbles but he's called down, and they score only because they have two seconds left of the clock which were added at the beginning of this drive.
2009 was the most memorable win for me, Graham Zug with 3 TD catches, and Penn State routs Michigan in Ann Arbor in what is now year two of the Rich Rod debacle. In other words, none of those wins were satisfying enough because they were against Michigan when they were down. I'm still waiting for a more memorable win, and that could start this weekend.
Matthew: Most memorable win occurred in 1994 when Kerry Collins hit Bobby Engram for the game winning touchdown. Penn State blew a double digit first half lead and won the game in memorable fashion. This vaulted the Lions into the No. 1 ranking in the polls. Most brutal loss was 2005. Michael Robinson led the team on what should have been the signature drive of his career only to see some shady officiating in the closing seconds snatch away the victory. Michigan was awarded a few extra seconds, for reasons that still are not satisfactory, on their final drive. On the final play of the game they scored the winning touchdown. It was Penn State's only loss of the season.
It's Homecoming Weekend in State College. What's your favorite Homecoming story? Feel free to tell a non-PG version . . .
The Underdogs: Sniff, sniff. Growl.
Matt: My group of friends and I got cut off. At the Skeller. At 2:30 in the afternoon the Friday before the infamous '04 Iowa homecoming game. I didn't know that was possible.
Jeff: I was Greek in college, so any story that combines that full-scale desctruction of a parade float with spiked apple cider is probably best. Though I was lucky to be able to ride with our float one year dressed as Shaggy from Scooby-Doo, so that was nice. Non-PG? None that I'd prefer to discuss openly (what IS the statute of limitations for debauchery?).
Rowlff Dogg: Tailgating in the dorms after the snow storm in 2009 sidelined Pellagate. Poor @psubarton. He came all the way up from DC to party like an underclassman. Mad props to our gracious hosts @shawnguinan and @tgiannetta for reminding us how to kick it old school.
Tim: Ah jeez...I mean the parade is always fun, and it was pretty cool being able to go on the field before last year's game with the Varsity "S" Club, but football isn't the true essence of Homecoming (although I essentially wrote as much last year). The TRUE essence of Homecoming is buying a keg for the nice house on Park Ave. you rented with your friends for the weekend; consuming said keg; staging a keg-throwing competition at 3 AM in the rented house's backyard until the yard looks like a minefield; then recovering your full deposits on both the house and keg on Sunday before driving home. I'm really sad that the house wasn't available to rent this year
LB: When I was a student, I was friends with several guys in Triangle, the engineering fraternity. During one particular Homecoming, Triangle made a nearly life-size likeness of the Nittany Lion as part of their Homecoming parade float. The Lion, as well as the rest of the float, was made by pomping - sticking a crepe-paper-like substance through the holes of pieces of chicken wire. One night after the Homecoming parade, over perhaps a few too many drinks, my friend Jordan was telling me all about the float his fraternity had made and the Lion that sat on top. I suddenly was picturing just how good the Lion would look in my living room, and asked if I could have it. I knew Triangle had put a lot of working into making their float, but it was just sitting near their house off of Beaver Avenue. To my surprise, Jordan's eyes lit up and he enthused that it'd be a great idea for me to keep it. So we walked over to their house and Jordan picked up it, carrying it over his shoulder and setting off for my apartment again, probably a half mile away. I'll never forget the looks we got as we walked down the crowded sidewalk, a large Nittany Lion in tow and pieces of paper floating away behind in the breeze. Sometimes I wish I still had that crudely constructed homage to my alma mater, but I have plenty of pictures of him standing proud in my living room to remember him by.
Predict the score.
The Underdogs: Grrr. Scratch my tummy.
Rowlff Dogg: Penn State 29, Michigan 28. I'm going to chalk up Indiana to O'Brien thought we could beat them with a wonky playbook so he could hold back some new wrinkles for Michigan. The crowd will be jazzed up and the players will feed off it. I just hope no one tears an ACL because Matt De Bear marched on the field. (No, he's not fat. I'm just making a band joke.)
J Schnauzer: Michigan 24, Penn State 20. Everyone will freak out, but 2013 is a free pass.
@t_money495: The home team seems a bit rattled coming off the loss to Indiana and continues to get off to a slow start. The D allows a few early scores and settles into a slug-fest in the second half despite trouble stopping Toussaint (that's an arrogant Michigan name if I've ever heard one). PSU claws back and the running game returns with solid play from Zwinak and Lynch. The first half deficit is too much to dig back from. 31-27 Michigan.
Jeff: Last time I thought the panic was unwarranted, I said PSU would beat UCF. I was wrong. This time, I won't be, and the good guys win 31-7.
Matt: PSU will come out and play a much more sound game than they did Saturday in Bloomington. However, the lack of depth on the line and at linebacker will wear down in the 2nd half against a powerful Michigan rushing attack, and Michigan gets a 27-23 win. The PSU internet bursts into flames that will never be put out.
Eric: Michigan (unfortunately) wins, 31-17.
Kevin: I'm actually pretty torn on this weekend's game. I think Penn State's defense tightens up after a rough outing last week, similar to the way they responded after Central Florida. I think playing at home before their biggest crowd in a while also helps provide a spark. I have watched plenty of Michigan this season to know they are an overrated bunch that has found ways to win against some clearly inferior competition, and I am not as sold on Devin Gardner as I thought I would be by now. Still, I think Michigan has the depth that will find a way to gut out another victory this weekend. Michigan 23, Penn State 20
Matthew: I fear more of the same, Penn State starts slow on offense, the defense gets torched early, and Bill O'Brien abandons the game plan while playing catch-up. Michigan 31 Penn State 20.
Bill: The crowd will be electric and the team will come out fired up after last week's embarrassing loss. I think we hang close in the first half but end up dropping a 34-25 contest with a late score to make it somewhat respectable.
LB: I don't want to get too excited after the loss on Saturday, but the sold-out crowd and a team looking to bounce back will certainly help Penn State have a better week. As much I would love to see the Lions crush the Wolverines, unfortunately I have to be realistic and predict that Penn State will lose 35-24.
Tim: Oh man, I hate Michigan. In my lifetime, our football team has lost to Michigan in so many creatively painful ways that I need therapy. People call their helmets "iconic" even though they're actually stupid looking, and their quarterbacks play football with their shoes untied and wear defensive linemen's jersey numbers because they think they're cool. But it's not limited to football-this one time our cross country team wound up on the same flight as Michigan's team on the way to some meet, and all they did was hit on our girls' team and show off their tough-guy earrings and tattoos the entire time. The worst part is that Michigan people don't even reciprocate my hate because they're too busy hating on that other school I hate.
Anyway, I don't think we're going to beat Michigan because that's just how these things work. On paper it sets up well for us, but we'll get screwed out of a victory and I'll have to schedule extra therapy sessions for the next few months. Michigan 29-28.
Zach: I have always prided myself on being objective and seeing things rationally when it comes to my favorite teams but this is not the weekend for that. I am all in with 7-2 off suit and hoping for a miracle! Penn State is way better than they have shown against UCF and Indiana but the defense is very concerning to me. Hack is going to come out a bit rattled in his first game against Michigan so the running game needs to step up BIG. The crowd should be the biggest factor then it has been all year as it is an announced sell-out so we could be looking at 108,000+ all wearing white! The student section will be the biggest it has all year which will add to the noise as Penn State oversold student tickets and is bribing us to sit in the Upper South Endzone to make everyone fit. This will be my last Michigan game and whiteout as an undergrad so I am holding onto my ticket and will be there on Saturday cheering on Penn State to a win. If we can get this win and the one next week against Ohio State, this will be a very successful year and it would be HUGE for the program. Not to mention that about 40+ potential recruits will be at Beaver Stadium for this one game so getting a win and being loud is paramount to win over these kids. I think Penn State makes Michigan our *ichigan and wins in triple overtime 35-34.
Ali: Considering that this team always shows up to play in the spot light and the fact that they will be playing with a chip on their shoulder, I think this game will be closer than a lot of other people are thinking. Hack is going to be having an up and down type of season, and I think this game has the potential for him to have an 'UP' type of game. I'm going with Penn State in a close one in this game. 34-27 Penn State.
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