With the short week and all the distractions Friday really snuck up on us. Kevin and I offer our opinions and predictions below, but RUTS never got me his thoughts in time. Apparently he has a "job" with "meetings" and "responsibilities". Of course that didn't stop him from throwing a loud party last night and having a good time with Puff the Magic Dragon if you know what I mean. I'm seriously starting to question his dedication to this blog endeavor. Anyway, here are our picks. Maybe RUTS will offer his in the comments later on.
Contributors will be in street close, but the games are going on anyway. I'm not letting poor judgment get in the way of an inter-BCS game I've been waiting eight months for.
The offense: it's probably pretty good. The running game was solid, with three guys running for around eight ypc. The defense they face, however, gets a lot tougher. Oregon State had one of the better defenses in the Pac-10 last season, but the losses up front to graduation should play well into Penn State's strengths. OSU game up 210 yards to Stanford last week in their heartbraker, and I suspect Paterno's line will be even tougher to block than that of the Trees. The coaches will probably let Clark run this week, so the options on the ground only become more dangerous. The passing game in another matter; OSU has a solid secondary and will be getting back one of their best defenders, safety Al Afalava. Regardless, I like our ability to score tomorrow.
We will, for better or worse, find out a lot more about our defense tomorrow as well. With the now totally depleted defensive line, and questionable secondary, it's going to be one of those days where you hold your beer real tight and hoping nothing especially bad happens. Oregon State has legitimate threats at receiver, and, with the loss of depth at secondary, I imagine the soft coverage that drives us all crazy will continue on Saturday. Bend but don't break. The over/under has been increasing but remains at a relatively low 47. For all of our sakes, I hope Vegas is right here.
I think the rest of the team pulls together here, they are playing at home and have the talent advantage to make Paterno (briefly) the all-time winningest coach in college football.
Kevin's Prediction: Penn State wins 35-28
The events this week have Penn State fans terrified and have given Oregon State fans a boost in confidence. The loss of Koroma, Evans, Harriot and Quarless will be significant, but when the whistle blows we'll still manage to put eleven guys on the field. Quarless hasn't been a factor in the offense since 2006, and I think we'll be fine with a defensive line that features Gaines, Odrick, Ogbu, and Hayes with Maybin, Lattimore, McEowen, and Crawford rotating in and out. Knowledge Timmons and Drew Astorino are going to have to step up and contribute in the secondary, and don't be surprised if you see D'Anton Lynn take off the redshirt and replace Harriot as the gunner on kick and punt coverage.
I expect the Oregon State offense to come out firing on all cylinders and test the defense early. If we come out aggressively blitzing like we did with Coastal Carolina I fear our lack of athleticism at linebacker and depth in the secondary is going to kill us. We'll get burnt a few times before Bradley waves the white flag and drops the linebackers into zone. That won't stop the Beavers, but I think it will slow them down enough to let our offense catch up. I'm also counting on crowding the secondary to cause two or three turnovers from Moevao.
From our offense I expect a lot of yards and points. Oregon State is soft in the front seven. Stanford ran up over 200 yards rushing, so I'm expecting Green and Royster to each gain 100 yards and a couple touchdowns in this game. If we can control the ball and not turn it over we should win this game easily. But my worst fear is that we jump out to a three touchdown lead and Joe circles the wagons. Oregon State stacks the box and we keep pounding into it desperately watching the clock and hoping to hold off for a win. Think Michigan State all over again. Against a team with this many weapons you have to keep scoring until the game is over. Ultimately I think we'll do what it takes to win, but we're going to come out of this game with serious concerns about the defense.
Mike's Prediction: Penn State wins 45-42