Last week we had the back and forth with Alabama fans after the Nittany Lions got 27 votes out of over 1200 in a poll on Roll Bama Roll asked "Who will be the first to beat Alabama?" It seems there's just not much love to go around for the Nittany Lions these days.
Eleven Warriors arbitrarily ranked the teams with the best running backs in the Big Ten this season, and he put Penn State third on the list behind Wisconsin and, you guessed it, the Buckeyes. He had this to say.
Evan Royster is the type of horse that almost every team in the country wants, but I feel that there is no real depth of talent behind him and I wasn’t impressed by his performance in 2009. Last year Royster was a pre-season Heisman candidate, but rushed for only six scores, despite racking up 1,169 yards and a 5.7 yards per carry average. His yardage and average certainly impress anyone, but I think he should have found pay dirt a bit more often and his numbers against big time opponents were mediocre at best.
He has a fair point on Royster's performance in big games last year, but let's not forget his 2008 season when he rushed for 1200 yards and 12 touchdowns. Did he get worse in 2009? I think you have to put a large part of the blame on the offensive line. Also, it's not Royster's fault that every time Penn State found themselves in a 1st-and-goal situation on the one yard line Joe Paterno called a quarterback sneak.
I also don't agree with 11W's contention that Penn State is thin at running back once you get past Royster. Stephfon Green has proven to be a capable backup that can break a play at any time, and Paterno may have some tricks up his sleeve with Curtis Dukes and Silas Redd this year. I don't think you can find a Penn State fan out there that would consider the entire season lost if Royster gets hurt.
What does Ohio State have that's so great? Terrelle Pryor led the team in rushing last year. Brandon Saine is nothing special. Boom Herron can't seem to stay healthy, and didn't have a single game over 100 yards when he was. Color me unimpressed. Maybe Ohio State has some good freshmen coming in I don't know about, but why should the Buckeyes get credit for that while Penn State gets no credit for Dukes and Redd? But this is what makes these arbitrary offseason lists so much fun.
Moving on, Big Ten Network analyst and failed head football coach Gary DiNardo takes a stab at ranking the teams of the Big Ten. He puts Ohio State, Iowa, and Wisconsin in his top three, and then he says there is a big drop off after that. He puts Penn State in the next group with Michigan State and Purdue. If you recall, Penn State has blown out Michigan State the past two years, and Purdue hasn't been to a bowl game since 2007.
Ok fine. I understand that Penn State has some holes to fill this year. It's tough to stay had a highly competitive level when you lose Jared Odrick, Navorro Bowman, Sean Lee, Josh Hull, Andrew Quarless, Dennis Landolt, and Daryll Clark. All of these players have won All-Big Ten honors at some point. But so far, this is the only argument I see being made against Penn State.
He likes what Danny Hope has done at Purdue, and wonders if Penn State can overcome its shaky quarterback situation now that Daryll Clark who also provided much of the Nittany Lions' running, is gone.
Since when was Daryll Clark a huge part of the running game? I must have missed that. Maybe on the goal line he was, but Penn State rarely ran with him after the 2007 Alamo Bowl. If a running quarterback is so essential to Penn State's success, we should go undefeated this year with Kevin Newsome at the helm. I fully expect him to blow Clark's rushing stats out of the water.
I'll say it again. There is some shuffling going on with the offensive line, but there is a lot of experience and talent to work with there. The running backs and wide receivers are stacked. Odrick is the only loss on the defensive line, and Devon Still will do just fine there. Penn State has been recruiting well at linebacker for years, and the coaches are tickled pink with the depth and talent they have to work with. Suddenly after two years of complaining how bad Josh Hull sucked, now he's a major loss? If all anyone can point to as an area of concern is the quarterback, where we have some really physically gifted, though inexperienced guys to choose from, I think Penn State will have a fine season.
Finally, it was announced this week that Penn State will play Maryland in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. I don't know how the last place team of the Big Ten gets paired up with the Co-Champions of the ACC, but you're welcome to the rest of the Big Ten for taking a bullet so the Terps don't knock off a team like Ohio State or Wisconsin.
As you can imagine, Terps fans view this as a major insult. Just check out some of the comments in response to the linked blog post by the Baltimore Sun.
If you are counting at home, so far one commenter calls it a "slap in the face", and three other commenters call it both a "joke" and a "slap in the face". And one Maryland fan who attended PSU thinks it's "awesome".
Sorry Terps. Consider this payback for all those years we were an independent and had to play down to your level in football just to fill out our schedule.