PSU-SU via the NYT
It's part two of gore and guts, brains and Pauluses. The second installment of the email conversation that starts with the obvious and ends in another dimension.
Make sure to start with part one of our conversation about the upcoming Penn State-Syracuse game over at Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician. Seriously, click here first.
Kevin: The movie wouldn't have been nearly as dramatic without all those bottles breaking over players' heads, so I say score one for historically based artistic license.
I don't know if you'll find anyone to admit they 'feel good' about a conference championship, but the team certainly has both the schedule and the tools. The away game against Illinois looked a lot more frightening before they came out against Missouri with the tenacity of a bowl of pudding. Everyone is well aware of Ohio State's struggles against Navy and Iowa's WTF moment hosting a I-AA team. No one is invincible, that's for sure.
One week is an awful sample size but if you made me pick Penn State's second toughest game I'd have to go with a Michigan State team that lost their starting quarterback and overused RB. Good Juice can show up without warning, so that's always a risk, and perhaps Michigan really has Returned To Competence (start printing the t-shirts!), but Penn State will be favored in every single game they play this year.
That doesn't mean they'll win them all, of course. Mathematically they'll probably lose, but I have no idea who is going to beat them.
Is this Paterno's last stand? I don't feel like there is any desperate push, but the dude is in his early 80s. New skill players and an early away game against Alabama make 2010 tough, especially with Ohio State growing up next year. After that who knows. I think if Joe can stick around for three or four more years, which has been his line for 20 years now, 2009 isn't the last girl left at the bar.
So I'm looking at Syracuse's 2008 scores and something is sticking out: you only held one team last year to 20 points in regulation. Turnovers were even in the OT loss last week, so what in the world was your defense doing to hold down Minnesota? Are they just that bad, or was GERG doing something wrong last year?
Sean: "Was GERG doing something wrong last year?" That question is wrong in so many ways. What was he doing right?
New DC Scott Shafer says he's implemented an "attacking" style of defense which is...what every defensive coordinator says they're doing. But I guess Scott's attack is better than Gregger's attack. Something like that.
From what I could tell the Orange were in the backfield a lot more against Minnesota than I've seen them in a long time. Don't know if that was schemes or players but whatever it is...more, please. That said, they reverted back to their old ways late. They looked sluggish, they weren't making plays and they were letting Minnesota have their way with them. A tale of two defenses.
My guess is that Shafer game-planned Minnesota perfectly in the first half but the athlete-factor caught up with him. And I would have to imagine that will be the case again this week.
Alright, gun to your head...what's the final score this weekend (I'm pretty sure I don't need to ask IF you think Penn State will win, just by how much).
Kevin: Can I say Syracuse 32, Penn State 6? Oh wait, that's the made up score from Davis' freshman season as told by the hit film The Express.
I'll diagnose the real thing like this: I expect Penn State to start out slow (as they always do) but then pull over the 28.5 point spread by the third. Paterno very seriously needs to start getting backup QB Kevin Newsome into some games and after waiting so long against Akron I suspect he'll be in earlier tomorrow.
But Syracuse can't really afford to slow down with Paulus, he needs experience too. I think my 'buyer beware' is a back door cover for the Orange and a relatively high scorer: let's go with Penn State 48, Syracuse 20.
How about your take on the game, and why not throw in a bonus question: in the alternative world where the Eastern Conference exists, how many years until Syracuse is able to take down Penn State and the rest of the Eastern Powers for the league championship?
Sean: My guess is actually not far off from yours. I think much like the way the SU-Minnesota game played out, Penn State strikes first, the Orange hang tough for a little while and then slowly but surely PSU pulls away. Never to point where it's laughable but beyond a reasonable point where anything thinks SU has a shot to win. I'm going with Penn State 42, Syracuse 24.
How awesome would it be right now to have an Eastern football conference that consisted of Syracuse, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Boston College, West Virginia, UConn, Rutgers, Temple, Army and Maryland? That covers every major Northeastern city and notable area and every team pretty much is assured of 2-3 extremely strong rivalry games, if not more. And the recruiting rivalries would only be even more intense, leading to even more intense on-the-field rivalries...AHHHHH....HEAD EXPLODING....
Of course, SU would be near the bottom with Temple and Army right now. But, assuming the OOC schedule is easy and the Orange win back those recruiting zones like NYC and NJ, the Orange can be back to mediocre-dom within two years. As for when they can be back to the point where they beat Penn State every other time...that's probably a five-year plan at least. All of this is true in the real world as well.