Penn State - 3
Wisconsin - 13
These are the times that try bloggers souls. For those of you who don't know, it's tons of fun being a football blogger at the beginning of the season. You're full of optimism. It's fun to write up a post game post after a big win. It's not so much fun after a loss. Especially a tough loss like the Lions had yesterday. But we're moving on. Somehow I'll find the motivation and we will move on.
I'm not really up for doing an entire game rundown. Go back and read the game recaps from Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Michigan and you'll get the general feel for how this game went. Penn State had times when they had success and moved the ball, but those times were overshadowed by mistakes as they had been all season. Long runs called back on holding penalties. Drive killing offsides penalties. Turnovers in the redzone. Missed blocks. Dropped passes. Dropped interceptions. It all added up to a 13-3 loss and a pile of unfulfilled hopes and dreams of what was supposed to be another special season.
Enough of that. Let's move on to the game balls.
Earlier in the season Joe had to leave the field against Ohio State due to illness. After the game Joe said it was the first time in his 55 year coaching career he had ever had to do that. This weekend was another first: The first time Joe has ever had to leave the game on a stretcher. Joe undoubtedly has a long road to recovery ahead of him. It's been a tough year for Joe. Earlier in the season he took a blind side hit that knocked him over. Get well soon, Joe.
The senior captain had another 14 tackle Butkus type day. In doing so Poz broke the school record for career tackles formerly held by Greg Buttle. Poz now has 349 career tackles.
Greatest. Linebacker. Ever.
Lee continues with his sophomore breakout season and starting to become a playmaker. Lee finished the day with a team high 14 tackles. He also forced a fumble and recorded two fumble recoveries to go along with his two sacks.
The true freshmen tight end continues to improve from week to week. After recording a career high 3 catches against Purdue, Quarless set a new bar with 5 catches for 62 yards against Wisconsin. After this kid goes through an off season in the weight program he is going to be a monstrous weapon in the middle next year.
Impressions of the Game
Morelli started off the season pretty bad, but he has gotten better as the season has progressed. In fairness to him, his receivers have dropped a lot of balls and the offensive line has not always given him the best protection. He has also had to play some games in some terrible conditions against Akron, Ohio State, and Purdue. He has improved in taking care of the ball. After throwing 5 INT in the first 5 games, Morelli has only thrown 2 INT over the last 5 games. Both of them were tipped balls. He has become a serviceable quarterback. Now Penn State needs him to take the next step and become a play maker.
I feel bad for the kids on defense. Drive after drive they stop their opponent only to watch the offense fail to score and give the ball right back. Game after game they hold their opponent to 17 points or less and either end up on the losing end of the scoreboard or have to sweat it out until late in the fourth quarter against inferior opponents.
Midway through the fourth quarter, down by ten points, Penn State elected to go for the first down on 4th and 1 at the Wisconsin 31 yard line. I have no problem with the decision to go for it. It was the right call. But they elected to run a right side toss sweep play to Tony Hunt. Everyone knows Hunt's strength is running up the middle. He's too slow to turn the corner on a sweep. And you have an All American offensive lineman at left tackle. Why would you run to the right side in such a crucial situation where you only need one yard? The only thing I can think of is they tried to do the complete opposite of what they thought Wisconsin expected.
After the game, Tom Bradley commented on Poz breaking Buttle's record and said, "I played with Greg Buttle so I know the record is quite an accomplishment. I am proud to have Paul on my defense and it will take a long time for anyone to break that record." Or at least until Dan Connor breaks it next year. Connor has 251 career tackles and should finish about 100 tackles behind Poz on the career list this year.
The offensive line, again, looked terrible. Penn State was held to 36 yards rushing and Morelli was sacked 4 times. In my preseason preview I said our season was going to hinge on this group. They have not come together and they have not improved. The results are evident with our 6-4 record.
Tony Hunt couldn't find any room to run
Jay Alford and John Shaw both left with unspecified leg injuries and did not return. Thus far there is no word on their status for next week.
Let's see how I did.
Wisconsin will be held to under 100 yards rushing
Wisconsin Tight End Travis Beckum will have 6 catches for 50 yards
Anthony Morelli will throw an interception in the third quarter
John Stocco will be sacked at least four times
The combined score will be less than 30 points
Hunt had 11 carries for 36 yards and 0 TD.
Wisconsin finished with 167 yards rushing
Beckum had 6 catches for 39 yards
Morelli threw 1 INT, but it was in the second quarter
Stocco was sacked four times
The combined score was 16 points.
We'll say I was 4-2 for that round.
A.J. Wallace has a 50 yard kick return
Andrew Quarless catches 5 balls for 80 yards
The score will be 3-3 at halftime
The only one that was close there was Quarless. He had five catches but only 62 yards. I almost nailed the halftime score, but Wisconsin scored a TD with 23 seconds left in the half.
Next season the Lions will open on September 1 against Florida International in Beaver Stadium. What? There's still two games left? We're not done? Seriously? Ok. Well what do you know? According to the schedule on the sidebar we play Temple this weekend, or as I like to call it, the Big Ten bye week. This game promises to have all the excitement of a bye week. I'm still debating if I want to make the three hour drive to State College this weekend to see if our offense can score 20 points against the worst team in division I-A football.
With Northwestern beating Iowa this weekend chances are looking good that Penn State may end up in the Outback Bowl assuming they beat Michigan State and the loser of the Ohio State-Michigan game gets an at-large BCS bid.