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Nitt Picks Is Award Worthy

Needless to say, one Robert Bolden opened some eyes this weekend with his outstanding performance against Youngstown St. Sure, the Penguins were an FCS team, but not even Evan Royster appeared to really get going against them, proving the defense was not a total patsy.

Bolden's big game earned him recognition Monday as the Big Ten Co- Freshman of the Week with Michigan State's Le'Veon Bell.

Bolden became the first true freshman quarterback to start Penn State’s season opener since 1910 and excelled, completing 20 of 29 passes (69.0 pct.) for 239 yards and two touchdowns in a victory against Youngstown State. His performance was the best by a true freshman in school history, surpassing Tony Sacca’s mark of 15-of-27 for 215 yards in 1988.

Michigan's Denard Robinson was named Offensive Player of the Week after a big day vs. Connecticut, setting a school record for total offense in a game. Ohio State's Tyler Moeller took home defensive honors and Iowa's Paki O'Meara took home the special teams award.

Cookie On College

Speaking of Denard Robinson, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ron Cook chronicles Michigan's domination of the Big East's Connecticut on Saturday as part of a trend of Big East schools getting a whooping laid on them by BCS programs. Overall, the league went 4-4, including Pittsburgh's loss to Utah Thursday night, and two-time defending champ Cincinnati's defeat against Fresno State.

I have another record to point out this morning: 0-3. That's how the Big East did on the opening weekend of the college football season against opponents from the six primary Bowl Championship Series conferences.

And the Big East has the nerve to complain about a lack of respect nationally?


Anyone still talking about these schools as good fits in the Big Ten?

Cook also talked about Evan Royster on Sunday morning, and said what we're all thinking.

A kid will lead the Nittany Lions into Bryant-Denny Stadium. "He exceeded the expectations today," Royster said of Bolden, 18. "Everyone told him, 'Act like it's practice.' And he did ... It had to be real nerve-racking for him. I couldn't imagine going out there like that. I was nervous going to practice as a freshman."

But a man will have to lead the Nittany Lions on the field if they're going to have any chance of winning. Royster, 22, really will have to do some running that night. Another 40-yard game simply won't get it done.

We can wax poetic about Robo all we want, but if the line doesn't open holes for Royster on Saturday, and if he trips through them when they do, Penn State isn't going to beat Alabama. Period. As we talked about in our offensive grades, the run blocking was average against a below average opponent. Anyone deriving confidence from that performance is probably a little too optimistic for success Saturday.


Roll Bama Roll is talking Penn State already on this Monday, and sure had an interesting analysis of the Nittany Lions' special teams:

Another thing to keep your eye on, it seems, is the seemingly strong quality of special teams for the Nittany Lions. Kicker Collin Wagner hit three field goals from beyond 44 yards out, Anthony Ferra netted 45 yards on his only punt, Youngstown State averaged only 16 yards per kick return, and there was the aforementioned kick return for a touchdown by Powell. Never overestimate one game against a cupcake, of course, but admittedly that sounds indicative of strong special teams in every phase. Given our question marks on special teams, it seems like you have to give the early edge to PSU on that front.

In all seriousness, Penn State's special teams did look pretty good on Saturday, but let's be real here. This is the unit that likely cost Penn State a Big Ten title last year. Between the punt block against Iowa and the costly return surrendered to Ohio State, thing could be quite different if this group had performed well in big games last year. There is still a lot of uncertainty at punter, and making big kicks in Tuscaloosa is a different animal entirely from making kicks with the comforts of home. Cautious optimism.

In Scores Of Other Games
  • Boise State plays Virginia Tech tonight. Here's your preview. [Rivals]
  • In case you missed it, here's some video from Football Eve [Collegian]
  • RUTS has your Saturday lines. Penn State is an 11.5 point dog. [Slow States]
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