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NCAA Football: Northwestern at Penn State Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

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BSD Mailbag 10.14.22

well....this is more like it.

Mismatches, what should we look for? If you were CJF and Co. what would you look to exploit on Michigan O and D? What would you be nervous gets exposed by Michigan on PSU’s O and D?—rpm5103

I can tell you right away what I’m not particularly worried about, and that’s their wide receivers. I have the utmost confidence in this Penn State secondary - they may bend but they won’t break, and they’ll get theirs no matter the yardage given up through the air.

What I am concerned about with regards to their passing game is their tight end, Luke Schoonmaker - he’s their second leading receiver on the year, and I’m still lacking some confidence in our linebacking corps (Abdul Carter is gonna be the next big LBU great, but it’s still very early in his PSU career).

On the other side of the ball, I’m really nervous about the offensive line. They were nothing short of dominant at Auburn, a team that has no lack of talent in the defensive front four, but was that the outlier? Can they make lanes and protect the QB in the Big House? Obviously our young backs will be put to the test, but up front is where the bread is buttered.

Also I cannot wait to see our TE, Brenton Strange (who’s become the TE we all hoped he’d be) this year), take advantage of that great mismatch. I’m expecting he’ll be a big factor on Saturday.

It’s going to be ~15 MPH winds during the game on Saturday. Would you rather Penn State go for it on 4th down anywhere inside Michigan’s 45 yard line or kick/punt the ball to get points or better field position? And why did you pick going for it on 4th down no matter what?—Penn State Navy

I always want Penn State to go for it on fourth down on the opponent’s side of the field, no matter the weather (lies, if it was a snow game like last year’s MSU one I’d want us to punt). Sorry, Barney, j’adore.

Could UM’s schedule so far this year be any easier?—LarzLion

Probably! They actually didn’t play Akron this year (listed by some as the worst team in FBS), but they did play Hawai’i, Colorado, and UConn, which, WOOF. And even Indinia’s down this year!

We’re not going to bring up Iowa because I want to be able to sit down a bit during the game and not be accuse of faking an injury.

Michigan stats. It’s a belabored point, Michigan’s OOC schedule was filled with cupcakes. Looking at their Offensive and Defensive numbers (even those that adjust for opponents), am I wrong to still think they’re skewed?

I mean honestly, Hawaii and Colo State are pretty inarguably in the bottom 10 of all FBS. Shoutout UConn but if they’re your best OOC game, yikes.

Even in the last three games (Iowa, MD, and Indiana) featured one (?) presumable bowl team and a team that has the worst offense in football.

TL;DR - Michigan hasn’t played anyone! Is there any data (stats) that we should look at and think Michigan has a serious edge in any aspect of the game?

*Disclaimer, I don’t think PSU has a “serious” edge in any phase of the game FWIW. I just don’t see a “easy win” for either team.—rpm5103

No, there’s nothing that you can point to that shows that MI has a serious edge. The only stat that’s even relatively concerning to me is Penn State’s 3rd down percentage - but last year, their vaunted Big Ten Championship year, Michigan held PSU to 7 of 21 on third downs and we had a legitimate shot to win that game. That’s a misleading stat, too - because if you get a first down on first or second (or fourth!) down, you don’t need the third.

I’m with your last statement - a one score game seems about right to me, either way, which is why the Michigan fans that are concerned about a “too-close game” that ends up “31-10” makes me concerned about their mental faculties.

Is Michigan getting too much national respect?

I think they are a good team, but the national conversation around them seems to give them a lot of credit for last year which:

a) it’s not last year anymore

b) they got absolutely WORKED by UGA in the semifinal

c) they almost lost to (should have lost to?): PSU, Nebraska and Rutgers. Very easily could have been a five loss team.

So yes, it’s impressive that they beat OSU by two scores, but they were not a juggernaut last year. They do not have their two all world rush ends anymore (which makes their defense not nearly as scary). This year they beat up on three of the worst OOC opponents in college football, struggled with Maryland and IU and beat a bad Iowa team.

Are they good? Yes. Are the a playoff team? Probably not.—PSU2UNC

I agree with this too! So far this year, they’re riding the success of last year’s playoff appearance to be a continuous top five team, which, hey - we’ve done in recent years too. But this is the meat of the schedule, where great teams rise and good teams underwhelm. We know what that’s like as well, and our teams’ captains have seen that first-hand.

I’m not so sure it’s “too much national respect” (they’re getting loads of local respect too, especially with MSU sort of regressing to the mean) because the amount of respect they’re getting is unsurprising to me. It’ll all work out on the field.

Any evidence to suggest that fox is on to something with their big noon kickoff (as opposed to a prime time kickoff)?—JayMPSU

My personal evidence is that it’s making them a shitton of money, because most marquee games aren’t at noon which means they’re getting all the eyeballs at that time. But truly,it’s not as good for the players or the teams - because playing a huge game at night under the lights with rowdy fans who’ve been tailgating all day is just what makes college football so awesom.

Since there were two Anns and multiple arbors, shouldn’t it be Anns Arbors? (and in case anyone is thinking of suggesting the use of a possessive apostrophe, note that according to the “Principles, Policies, and Procedures: Domestic Geographic Names, “apostrophes suggesting possession or association are not to be used within the body of a proper geographic name.” There are only five places in the U.S. permitted to use an apostrophe in their name.).—Smee

You learn something new, Smee!

And I don’t care what they call it, as long as the Penn State team plays okay on Saturday.

Does anyone really pronounce Michigan as “meat chicken” ???—ranger995

Not phonetically, no, but when it’s slurred it can be pretty close. Side note: the We Are Inn in Philipsburg has a sandwich named after it.

How did the alcohol experiment in Beaver Stadium go?—PSU1979dude

I ended up tailgating all day before the game (and the deluge) and went back to a friend’s house to actually watch the game - a decision I stand by - but my brother and his best friend went in and grabbed beers, then came back out to go home with us. I think Minnesota will be very different than Northwestern, with a ton more folks buying beer. I’m not so sure that the University should extrapolate much of anything from the data of the first beer sales.

Does Bill O’Brien think he’s going to be the next coach of Alabama? I think he would make an excellent CFB head coach with some experience now under his belt. Oklahoma maybe? Not Nebraska, that would be a slogfest. Wisconsin as long as he’s happy with an 8-4 floor.—PSU1979dude

That’s an interesting take, and one I’m not sure would work for BOB. He’s well known as someone who likes the Xs and Os, actually teaching the game and calling the plays, and all the other stuff that comes with being a big time NCAA head ball coach are the things he hates. Saban can away with it (because if you’re a booster, can you say no to Nick Saban), and won’t ever have a dearth of kids wanting to play for him at Alabama because of his continued runs this last decade plus, and O’Brien hasn’t built up that sort of complete cache.

I don’t think he fits in the Big Twelve, and Nebraska’s too trigger happy in my opinion. I actually think Wisconsin would be a good location for him, if they’re looking to sort of revamp their offensive philosophy prospectively as has been rumored.

Should Pat Freirmuth retire? I know he’s not going to. He had another concussion yesterday. That’s at least 3 since he’s been playing for PSU and the Steelers. That was always my biggest concern about him in the NFL... His health. I’m scared for his long term well being.—swift_retribution

That’s between him and his family - personally, I was super proud of John Urschel for retiring when he did, after being vested in his NFL pension and having a bright future ahead of him as a mathematician. But that’s just not appealing for a lot of players, who devote their whole being to the pro football player identity, and if they still can do it, they’ll do it.I hope he does what’s best for himself and his family, whatever that looks like.

So... you decide to plan well in advance for CJF’s 51st birthday on February 2nd. You go downtown to 2000 Degrees (link here: and paint him his own special one-of-a-kind pottery coffee mug for his desk in Lasch. What do you paint on the mug?—Smee

Obviously, it’s “Go 1-0 on your birthday!”

What can you pinpoint where Franklin falls short as a coach on Saturdays? Are we a well-prepared team? I would think so, maybe not Minny 2019. I’m having a tough time envisioning a loss Saturday because of the coaching.—PSU1979dude

I think we’re better prepared than 95% of other college teams. But sometimes, it’s just not about being better prepared; it’s about execution, and it’s about talent, and it’s about the mentality the team takes onto the field. We’ve been close a couple times to putting it all together for an entire season, rather than a part of the season, and I do still believe that CJF can get there. But I’m ever an optimist with PSU sports.

This weekend I saw a couple at a college football game have ziplock baggies with pasta and meatballs. Is this genius or ridiculous? I would prefer my pasta be warm but it is definitely doable if not.—bva-psu

I mean, baggies of pasta & meatballs is undoubtedly far cheaper than in-stadium food, and may very easily be much more delicious. For many years, my friends and sister have snuck in the most random things they can take from our tailgate into the games (including a mimosa - yes, the liquid - in a baggie, a cob of corn, and i think a parfait was brought in once. I’ll report back what awesome things they’re undoubtedly going to remind me of when they read this.

You are Penn State’s Director of Football Operations and you’ve been given an unlimited budget for a National Anthem singer at the White Out Homecoming game against Minnesota. You check your contacts at Paradigm and WME and the following individuals are available: Adele, Linda Perry, Alanis Morrisette, Taylor Swift, Reba McEntire, Kate Bush, Lady Gaga, and Mary J. Blige. Who do you choose?—Smee

Obviously, Taylor Swift is my favorite, but despite her improved vocals as she’s aged, she just doesn’t have the vocal power to do a decent job of the National Anthem. Of the choices you gave, Adele has easily the strongest voice for one of the toughest songs to sing live, but since she’s a Brit, I doubt it would happen.

I still think Christina Aguilera has one of the popular voices best-suited to the anthem after Whitney passed, but I don’t know if she’s as strong as she used to be. But I just realized, for some reason, that we’ve been focused on female singers - I’d give John Legend or Brendan Urie a shot for sure.

There are 15 undefeated FBS teams left. BTW, the numbers are not where they ar we in any poll but a number I assigned to the teams to make sure I listed all 15. Two of them Penn State (1) goes to Michigan (2) for a game you may have heard about. :)

OSU (3) and UCLA (4) are each on a bye week.

As for the rest:

Georgia (5) hosts Vandy.

Bama (6) goes to Tennessee (7)

Clemson (8) goes to FSU

Southern Cal (9) goes to Utah

Oklahoma St (10) goes to TCU (11)

Ole Miss (12) hosts Auburn

Syracuse (13) hosts NC State

James Madison (14) goes to Gerogia Southern

Coastal Carolina (15) hosts Old Dominion

At best, the weekend ends with 12 undefeated teams since 6 of the 15 face off. At worst, 5, the winners of those three games and the two with byes. How many undefeated teams will we have going into next week? Figure busy week, so I don’t need to know who, though you can if you want. I think we end up with 9.—Former_DC_Buck

I think we’ll end up with 8 or 9. Besides the obvious PSU or Michigan, Bama or Tenn,OK State or TCU, and OSU and UCLA, I think UGA, Clemson, and Ole Miss are very likely to stay undefeated; and with how JMU’s adjusted so well to FBS, I’m loathe to pick against them. The likely teams ot fall are Coastal Carolina (hi Ricky Rahne!), USC (I’ve been unimpressed and Matt Leinart conspicuously forgot to mention on twitter that they too have not played any ranked teams), and Cuse.

If you folks discussed this already feel free to ignore this. There is a two year ban in place to keep them from playing in the Sunbelt Championship or a bowl game. This is in place for teams that transition from FCS to FBS. The thinking being they will play a mix of FBS and FCS. JMU is playing only one FCS team. Also they have almost 85 scholarship players, the FCS limit is 63, because of Covid rules. Not sure if everyone knows these details, just including them to limit follow-ups. After all that, should the NCAA grant them a waiver, at least for the cahmapionship game for the Sunbelt if they qualify? For a bowl? If they can grant waivers to crappy 5-7 teams to fill a bowl slot, I’d rather see JMU play a 7-5 or 6-6 Purdue or Iowa State rather than see a 5-7 Oklahoma or Nebraska.—Former_DC_Buck

The bowl ban for JMU this year is incredibly stupid because they’re proving their worth on the field, where it should be decided. Of course, I’m giving every team, even the new ones, a shot at the post season is somehow communism and Pat Fitzgerals is against it.

Matt Rhule just got let loose from Carolina Panthers. Where do you think he’ll end up next? Nebraska? ND? Penn State?—EagleLionSly

Not Penn State - he’s not gonna wait for the job to open up. I think ND is going to give Marcus Freeman a relatively long leash so they won’t be open for a bit. Nebraska may be interesting, but he’s used to taking over a down program and turning around, and receiving the deserved grace that comes with doing so. He would get grace for about five minutes in Lincoln before they’ll say he’s not doing enough.

I actually think he’ll wait to see where the chips lie; there’s bound to be more jobs open in two months than there are today, with the inevitable school hopping where a current coach goes to one of the now-vacant positions.

Now that I say that, Oklahoma actually wouldn’t surprise me too much.

I’ll pile on the Matt Rhule news even though someone already asked you where you think he’s going to end up. Second question is, on a scale of 1-10 where 1 is “crickets” and 10 is “it’s 2005 and OMG they’re playing Boulevard of Broken Dreams on the radio again, make it stop,” how much are we as a fan base going to be hearing about it until he gets hired somewhere?—NittanyPuma

Gotta be an 11, the inescapable droning of the tomahawk chop for more than three hours straight.

What’s your go to omelette fixings? I’ve been trying to change up my lunches and omelettes are becoming more frequent, but I’m starting to get sick of the same things. Also, any other lunch suggestions are welcome. We’re approaching soup weather, also been trying fried rice although not super happy with it.—Succss With Honor Always

I love a good all-cheese omelet, with a mix of all different cheeses including ones you don’t normally think of like feta. Crab meat omelets are great as well - but rather than trying different fixings, why not switch up the seasonings? Omelets are really versatile with flavors and a lot of the items soak up flavors really well. Adding barbecue seasoning, or everything but the bagel seasoning, or even lawry’s would make a huge difference, im!

And you can always marinate some vegetables or your smoke the meat before including it for an extra kick.

My Dad got a buck Saturday, and he’s having me take it to a butcher for a lot of smoked stuff instead of processing it ourselves. What do I get? The scrapple, and 15 rings of smoked keilbasa are already selected.

Keibasa smoked/fresh

Jalapeño cheese keilbasa smoked




Hot dogs

Hot dogs w/ jalapeño cheese

Red hots

Red hots w/cheese

Summer sausage

Ring bologna

Snack sticks

Jalapeño. Cheese kielbasa sticks–mattinglywasking

I’m glad you mentioned the scrapple up front as already selected, because you know that’s my jam and my answer would have been that alone. The meat sticks are always popular, at home and as a snack on the road or the tailgate. Jalapeno smoked kielbasa is also really good (the PSU meat lab has a tasty variation of this). But if it’s there and it’s good, bacon is always a great idea.

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