It's Wednesday so time for another edition of the Blue & White Roundtable. What? It's Friday? We're still shaking off the cobwebs from a so-far crazy New Year. Run Up The Score provides the questions this week. The Nittany Line has his answers up already. Galen is getting a little cocky over his lead in the Bowl Pick 'Em Game. So go check out those guys and tell them how badly I beat them this week.
Okay, you've seen Penn State and Notre Dame's bowl performances. What would the score be if they played next weekend?
Every Nittany Lion fan wants that game back. Everything that could have gone Notre Dame's way did. Quinn was throwing passes right into the chests of defenders and we dropped them. Field goals were botched. Interceptions. Fumbles. Penalties. Poz and Tim Shaw were still adjusting to their new positions and Poz was running around with that huge knee brace. Penn State just wasn't ready for that game against an experienced Irish squad loaded with seniors.
Notre Dame on the other hand played pretty consistently the entire season. The offense played at a high level, but the defense was soft and never really improved. Their losses to Michigan, USC, and LSU prove they are not the top 10 team everyone thought they were.
Having said that, would Penn State win if they played today? I don't know, but it would be a much better game. Just to stir the drink I'll say Penn State wins 24-10.
Many are claiming that Anthony Morelli had a breakout game in the Outback Bowl. Others point to the boxscore: 14-25, 197 yards, 1 TD, and say "big deal." How much confidence does this give you in our passing game for next season?
I think he had a great game. The numbers don't jump out at you, but he did everything you could ask him to do. He showed poise and confidence and leadership in the huddle. If not for some dropped passes and a few catches taken away on replay his numbers would have looked a lot better.
Even a broken clock is right twice a day. Breakout games are something you can only point to retrospectively. Time will tell if the Outback Bowl was Anthony Morelli's breakout game or if it was an aberration in an otherwise disappointing career. But it certainly makes me feel better about 2007 seeing that he is capable of throwing that well against such an athletic secondary.
Wisconsin came to play. Michigan and Minnesota, not so much. What were the most disappointing and inspiring Big Ten bowl performances so far?
I think you have to say the most inspiring Big Ten bowl performance so far has to be Penn State. Wisconsin wasn't favored against Arkansas, but they only had one loss (to Michigan) so everyone kind of suspected they were good despite not beating any stiff competition. Penn State had a completely uninspiring season. Not many people outside of Nittany Nation gave them much of a chance against the speedy Volunteers. But Penn State didn't just beat them, they beat them up. Go visit a Tennessee blog or message board and you'll see them doing a lot of soul searching this week. That's how bad we beat them. It's amazing what the difference between winning and losing your bowl game does to the fanbase.
Minnesota and Iowa get honorable mentions for most disappointing losses, but Michigan has to take home the prize there. Way to prove all those people who voted Florida ahead of you wrong. USC, who lost to Oregon State and UCLA, made the Wolverine defense look worse than average. Who wasn't watching the Rose Bowl thinking, "Why didn't this team show up in Happy Valley this year?"
Nick Saban bolted from the Miami Dolphins to (finally!) Alabama for a reportedly guaranteed eight-year, $32 million deal. Is he the evil creep so many people are making him out to be, and what would you have done in his situation?
I don't think he's a creep. When a headhunter calls, who doesn't at least listen? He owes it to his family and himself to listen and weigh his options. Who would turn down $4 million per year?
The people I despise in all of this are the media. They love a juicy story like this and they kept poking and prodding Saban to confess he was talking to Alabama. Of course he denied it. Put yourself in his shoes. A headhunter calls you at work and says they want you. Do you right away walk down the hall to your boss and quit before signing the papers? Or gathering more information? Or talking to your wife? Do you start openly telling all your co-workers you're thinking about leaving? Of course not. Unfortunately, in the high profile job of college and NFL coaches, you don't get the confidentiality the rest of us enjoy.
Holy crap, what about Boise State and Oklahoma? Best game ever? Best bowl game ever? Best non-championship game ever? Or are you just tired of sports media hacks claiming that everything is the "best __ ever"?
Greatest game ever? Perhaps. Certainly right up there with the best I've ever seen. (Yes, I stayed up until 1 AM and watched the entire conclusion) Vince Young's comeback in last years Rose Bowl was pretty good too. That one was for all the marbles. I don't mind debating the best ever. That's what makes the time between football games bearable.
Penn State's starting running back next season?
Austin Scott, but Evan Royster gets 10 carries per game.
Will Joe Paterno claim the starting QB job is open, and would he be lying if he did?
Well, considering the coaches were saying the QB job was still up for grabs two weeks before this season started, I suspect they will say the QB job is open in the spring. And yes, he will be lying in order to keep Morelli sharp. After his Outback Bowl performance, the starting QB job is Morelli's to lose. At this point I'm ok with that, but I want to see Pat Devlin get at least 100 snaps next year. We can't go into 2008 with all that talent and an inexperienced quarterback.
Do you really think there will be any coaching staff changes at PSU in the off-season?
The message boards say yes. Paterno says no. Usually the message boards are right.
BCS Championship prediction?
Ohio State wins 33-24