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BSD Mailbag 11.6.15

You've got questions, BSD has answers!

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What are the chances of Penn State winning out? Is it possible or is it more like a Lloyd Christmas and Mary Swanson type deal? Gerry Dincher
I have been counting on a three-game slide to end the season until a week or so ago, and while I am much more confident this does not happen, I would say there's only about a 10 percent chance they are able to somehow find a way to have an undefeated November. The offense is still too young and inconsistent to produce at a high-level against the three tough defenses on tap. I am feeling good about Saturday's contest at Northwestern, and feel Penn State has a much better shot at Michigan because of the bye week and Whiteout, plus I believe that while Michigan is a really good team, they are also receiving a "Harbaugh bump" in the polls and national perception. Michigan State is a bit beat-up, and will be coming off one of their biggest games in program history the prior week against Ohio State, and will be fatigued both physically and emotionally, regardless of how that game plays out. There's reasons to find hope for the improbable, but I just don't see Penn State putting everything together to win out against three very good teams to end the season.

But like Kevin Garnett, anything is possible.

Best way to make a turkey for Thanksgiving? Roasted, smoked, fried, turduckened? Success With Honor Always
It's hard to go wrong, but my bold suggestion is to make two turkeys- one roasted for the traditionalists at the table, and either a fried or smoked turkey for variety's sake- also because fried and smoked turkeys are absolutely fantastic. These will come in especially handy if you're able to pull off football marathons for the next several days after Thanksgiving. It just doesn't get any better than a schedule filled with rivalry games, a fridge packed with leftovers and a cold beer.

Which game does Barkley crack 1000 yards? adamp1984
Assuming you mean rushing and not all-purpose yardage, I'll say Barkley reaches the 1,000-yard milestone in the final week against Michigan State (Barkley is currently at 716 yards rushing on the season). It could come earlier, but I don't expect him to work miracles against three of the nation's best defenses that will likely be focusing on shutting him down.

Barring injury, I expect it to happen in game six or seven in 2016 when he enters the season as the true number-one back.

What's the worst thing you ever got at Halloween? dbridi
The generic chewy candy that comes in the solid orange and black wrappers. What the heck are those, anyways??

Penn State football should officially claim 1911,1912,and 1994 as national championship seasons — yes or no? jb3jammer54
We can leave the 1911 and 1912 seasons in the past, but personally, I claim the 1994 national championship despite whatever the idiot voters in the AP and Coaches polls say. They punished Penn State because of a couple garbage touchdowns by Indiana and a desire to finally reward Tom Osbourne, who couldn't win a national title on his own up to that point. There's no way that Nebraska team could handle Penn State on a neutral field.

Plus, Penn State was declared the national champions by the New York Times, which is good enough for me.

How many returning starters will we have next year? otholion If PSU wins decisively on Saturday (2+ scores), are they favored at home against Michigan? BMAN13
Assuming Hackenberg enters the draft and not counting the fullback position, it looks like nine on offense- Godwin, Lewis, Hamilton, Gesicki/Wilkerson, Palmer, Laurent, Gaia, Nelson. This does not include Mahon, for all intents or purposes could probably be classified as such. On defense, I would go with six as I can't convince myself Austin Johnson will be back- Sickels, Cabinda, Reeder, Bell, Haley and Allen. You could make the argument that the number is seven when you include the return of Wartman-White, but there are still only three starting linebacker spots to go around.

The great news is that all of the potential new starters for next season (with the exception of McSorley/Whoever wins the QB battle) will enter the season with PLENTY of experience and Penn State should not feel many growing pains despite the talent they will/might lose at season's end.

I had a placekicker costume to wear to the Illinois game, but I ended up being unable to make the trip to the game. Is it OK to wear it to the Northwestern game as a show of support for Big Toe or would it just end up pissing him off if CJF starts the backup kicker. Aqua Velva Man
Please wear it this weekend. A college football game is one of the few places where a grown man can wear a costume, no questions asked.

When should Christmas music start on the radio? SuperJeff
Christmas Eve. If you're really feeling the spirit, a week prior is acceptable. Anything else is way too early. Bah humbug.

Does Northwestern have the players to replicate what Maryland did? Former_DC_Buck
The Wildcats have a much better secondary than the Terps, so the "throw it deep and let our guys do their best Allen Robinson impersonation" probably wouldn't be the best gameplan. I do think the Northwestern offense will be much easier to shut down- while Clayton Thorson has some speed, he does not have the elusiveness nor the accuracy of Perry Hills, who was able to keep the Nittany Lions defense on their toes for most of the game. Northwestern will likely need to rely onthe run, which has really struggled in its past three contests.

Will the B1G ever put JoePa's name back on the Paterno-Stagg championship trophy? NewEnglandNittanyLion
I would be shocked if it ever happens. Even as attitudes change, the Big Ten will not be willing to cause any headaches they deem as unnecessary. It will remain as is, barring anything completely unexpected happening.

What freshman that redshirted this year could have a big impact next year? Biohazard2011
Great question. My first thought is Juwan Johnson, a large and extremely athletic receiver who could develop into one of the best at his position to ever play at Penn State. But it's hard to imaging him establishing himself as the "go-to" receiver with such a logjam at that position. Sterling Jenkins or Ryan Bates make complete sense, but the development of the offensive linemen on this team continues to be a huge enigma. Bill can elaborate in the comments, but he expects Garrett Taylor to leapfrog Malik Golden and Troy Apke to start opposite of Marcus Allen at safety in 2016, but I'm not sold without seeing him play at this level yet.

My pick is defensive end Ryan Buchholz. His size and play are reminiscent of Carl Nassib, and should be able to make a name for himself early as part of the rotation with Torrence Brown and Curtis Cothran as they attempt to replace Nassib's massive productivity.