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Iowa v Penn State
much different vibe after the game in 2016 than in 2023.
Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

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BSD Mailbag 9.29.23

We’re answering all your burning questions this week, and to no one’s surprise still talking about last week’s win over Iowa!

When was the last time Penn State beat someone the way they just beat Iowa? We have seen them get big leads and ease up, but Saturday night was different. It was a slow, but steady and thorough pummeling.—Gerry Dincher

It’s been quite some time. There’ve been a few demolition that felt just as complete (including versus Iowa itself in 2016 and in Iowa City in 2012) but none in decades where the opponent was unable to do absolutely anything, all game. It was glorious and we are all lucky to have experienced it.

The Iowa turnover that hit a player during a punt, i believe was contributed to the White Out crowd. The Iowa players never heard the punt returner calling out poison for the live ball. Any other plays you can think of in the Iowa White Avalanche game (coined here and trademark pending) that were caused by the white out crowd?—PSUinOK

There was one stretch where Iowa had to call a timeout, immediately followed by an offensive pre-snap penalty on the Hawkeyes. That was definitively on the white out crowd.

But honestly, our defense has said (for years) that the juice of this crowd gets them amped up, so the shut out itself could arguably be attributed to the white out; same for Tyler Warren’s two-touchdown performance, as he seems to turn it on under the lights in front of this type of energy.

If you watched the Iowa coach and players post-game interviews, what was your takeaway? For instance, do you think Iowa really grasped the magnitude of the whipping they received, or were they just being lowkey to avoid too much credit to Penn State?—PSU_Lions_84

My overall feeling regarding the takes of the Iowa team and coaches, and indeed much of the media (especially the Iowa beat) is that too much focus has been paid on the ineptitude of the Iowa offense, and not enough attention paid to the pitch-perfect game plan of the PSU coaching staff (on both sides of the ball) and the players in blue on Saturday who bought in and executed said game plan perfectly.

You can’t slowly strangle a team and impose your will for five yards every offensive play unless you’re playing sound defense, and unless you’re not turning the ball over, and unless you’re controlling the line of scrimmage. PSU did that, and then some. This was some of the best coaching up and down the staff that we’ve seen in years. And regardless of where Iowa is as a program and especially as an (otherwise inept) offense, they still hadn’t been shut out since the year 2000.

Penn State did that.

I’ve seen rumors online that Franklin tracked down the Iowa ST coordinator and gave him shit after the game. Didn’t see it on TV, can anybody who was at the game confirm or refute this? I badly want this to be true.—InflammableDumpster

This was confirmed over on Rivals and is glorious to me.

There’s some sort of mafia or gangster or old law enforcement feel to what petty James Franklin accomplished on Saturday.

Two years ago, Iowa sent a bunch of Penn State players to the proverbial and actual hospital. They — Iowa players, coaches, and fans alike — mocked them individually and as a team. Kirk Ferentz himself got in his shots. James could have retaliated during the game, or in successive press conferences thereafter. But he waited. And waited. And waited. And with the methodical stomping Penn State gave Iowa on Saturday, which made it all but impossible for Brian Ferentz to reach his contractual scoring requirement, the contract’s termination clause will likely be triggered at season’s end, presumably sending little brother [sic] Brian to the curb, despite any protestations from big brother Kirk. The brotherly flesh and blood shared by Kirk Ferentz — Brian Ferentz — had his football career killed by Petty James Franklin.

“[H]e sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue.”


Franklin has long held on-field grudges, for a few coaches and programs. And if revenge is a dish best served cold, there was nothing colder than this past weekend. It was glorious.

My only hope is that it’s not lost in the other discourse on the season, forgotten by year’s end - again, this was a demolition. Very satisfying.

Was at a wedding Saturday, and one of the other guests made a valid point. (don’t @ me bro, read on)

This past Saturday was originally an away weekend for PSU football, it was changed this year to a home game.

Should Dr. Pat Kraft have bigger sway in the B1G offices than he has? I would find it hard to believe he was not at least consulted when the schedule was being modified. Shouldn’t he, as the AD of arguably the 3rd most important member school have been able to say “Hell no you ain’t changing the home schedule on us! We have families that plan their Fall around our football schedule. You change Purdue/Minny/MD/etc’s schedule but you aren’t touching ours!”

I know he has made public comments about the opening the B1G on the road for the past quarter century, but do we all think that the O$U and scUM ADs don’t have a little influence on the schedule? Why doesn’t PSU have at least some?—kingkub

Kraft is still new to this program, and the conference. I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect him to have bigger sway one year into taking over a program that has struggled to have its will be done in this conference for the last thirty years; we need some patience, and to give him time to build those relationships.

A good sign was the lack of true set rivals in the original schedules put out for 2024 & 2025; that’s a positive for PSU. How the schedule will look after it’s redone and UW and Oregon are added in, though, will tell us more than any answer I could provide this week.

Latest Vegas odds for the game:

Penn State (-27, 46) at Northwestern: The Nittany Lions are on a 10-0-1 spread run to go with an 11-5 over run since early 2022. The Wildcats covered this game last season and are 2-1 ATS the past three games but 9-19 ATS since 2021. Edge: Penn State and slight to over.—LarzLion

The line on this game keeps moving in PSU’s direction, and that troubles me. It was, if memory serves, under 25 on Sunday; I saw that the ou was 47 last night. So in order to beat both the spread and the ou, PSU has to win 37-10 (or more)? That’s quite a lot, especially for an 11 am local time kickoff in sleepy Ryan Field against a team that found its footing late in the night on Saturday.

I feel like the streak of beating the spread might very well be over, but I expect the streak of scoring every quarter and scoring over 30 in a game most likely will continue.

Should we be more concerned with NW after that stunning comeback against Minny? This team is coming in believing in themselves. Look at Colorado... They won more games than they should simply buy believing in themselves and the team.—PSUinOK

David Braun is clearly a very good coach, whose gotten this team to buy into what he’s selling. It’s impressive, especially since he had few ties to the wildcat program when he was hired as DC in the offseason - and because he’s never been a head coach before. He’s a rising star in the profession and depending on the rest of the season, likely will be a frontrunner for the permanent job.

So more concerned than we were at, say, 5 pm on September 23? Absolutely. Concerned enough to be worried? I’m not there.

And also, I don’t think Colorado has won more games than they should so far this year. The talent and coaching disparity over the teams they beat has been pretty obvious. They were exposed against Oregon, though, and that will likely continue for them this week versus USC, who I expect will win by at least 20.

Do we see a break a way run this week?—Jiminsantafe

Northwestern’s got a rush defense that is in the bottom fifth of the nation season-to-date, so I sure as heck hope so.

Does the lack of a true running threat at QB have an impact on our lack of long runs this year?

I would like to admit that I, wek5000lion09, am a moron. The above question is not me being cute or suggesting that I know better than the coaching staff. My lizard brain just feels like there might be a connection? Are defenders able to focus on our rbs without hesitation, leading to guys getting hit before they get a 3-5 yard head of steam like they were able to at times last year?

Follow up questions for the BSD brains out there; would going under center help from a play action stand point? I’m certainly not suggesting Drew runs more, so play action/RPO from the shotgun seems silly if there’s rarely a time when he actually keeps it.—wek5000lion09

The lack of a run threat at QB doesn’t have much to do with it, imo - instead, it’s a combination of other factors.

One of the major ones is how opposing defensive coordinators are scheming against our offense. Because Drew Allar is so relatively unproven, and Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen are anything but unproven, coordinators are quite obviously (and up front about) selling out to stop the run game, and daring the young QB to beat them through the air. It’s tough to get long runs when defenses are stacking the box with 7 defenders on near every play; it’s a testament to the physicality and talent of the offensive line and running backs that they’ve averaged what they have against those fronts (including one of the best DEs they’ll see all season in Jer’zhan Newton).

Another reason besides scheme is the lack of solid downfield blocking. It’s not just the WRs (long reasonably thought as the weakness of this offense) that are missing some key downfield blocks, either; I noted some specific instances this past week where the TEs, some of the best in the nation, simply whiffed this past week. It’s hard to get far past the first down marker without a good block or two to spring you, as Singleton and Allen are finding out.

Can we finally say that the O-line is a strength this year? Asking for a friend.—EagleLionSly

You can always say whatever you want; you could’ve said this five years ago (heck, even in 2015) and though we would’ve laughed and called you mad, it would have been at least understandable a year or two ago.

Now, though? Not sure it’s arguable. Case in point:

That’s pretty awesome.

If you were an opposing team would you rather play Penn State’s defense or offense?—PSU1979dude

It depends on which opposing team I am.

If I was the Iowa Hawkeyes, I would absolutely prefer the offense - defense is unabashedly a strength of theirs, and their offense is (obviously) the opposite. So they wouldn’t want to go against a stout defense like ours.

For an offensive-first team, though - like, I don’t know, Maryland - they probably would prefer to go against our defense. They’ve got more confidence in their ability to score points than in their ability to stop us from doing the scoring. That’s why it’s so key that this team is playing, and will hopefully continue to play, such complimentary football in all phases of the game. You can’t scheme around weakness if the weaknesses are diminished.

Let’s say BSD has been around for fifty years. Which past PSU game would you love to see what a game thread would have looked like, either due to euphoria or meltdown?—LTFT

Due to euphoria, I’m not sure there would’ve been anything quite like BSD game threads during the Fiesta Bowl to cap off the 1986 season. Imagine the comments as Vinny Testaverde gets picked off again?! Especially after the Miami team walked out of the pregame dinner.

As for meltdown, one that I am very glad to have avoided due to lack of boards is 1999 Minnesota. PSU fans were so confident in our ability to make the national championship game that season and that game was such a disappointment, for all of us (including the players - sorry, Hbeach, if you’re reading).

Am I the only one sneakily happy that Ohio State beat Notre Dame over the weekend and not having to endure ND moved up to #2 in all of the polls in doing so?—LarzLion

You are very much not the only one. It’s much better for PSU that Marcus Freeman didn’t send in a last minute eleventh player, as this reinforces that the Nittany Lions control their own destiny. If they beat OSU and Notre Dame didn’t, it would be virtually impossible to keep the Lions out of the playoffs for the Domers if both teams were 11-1.

I know there are many PSUers who are convinced we’ll be left out regardless, but the possibility is slimmer this way.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how embarrassed are you that it was Penn State alum Al Golden whose Domer defense lined up with 10 men on the last 2 plays against anOSU?—NittanyPUMA

I honestly had forgotten that that’s where Golden ended up, so that probably says it all. Leaves me at, what - a one? Especially since Freeman admitted he noticed the lack of an eleventh player and didn’t take the penalty to rectify it - and it’s come out now that this wasn’t the first time this season that Notre Dame played with only ten men on the field. There are a few things that you can blame a head coach on game day for, and this is definitely one of them.

This is the first year that I actually expect to win in the horseshoe. Is that being overconfident?—bva-psu

If it is, I’m right there with you. I’ve said all year that I thought the toughest game was going to be versus Michigan, just because of how we match up with the Wolverines - and my stance hasn’t changed over the course of the year. But our ability to control both lines and play as methodically as we did this past Saturday versus a very good Iowa defense, taking what they were giving and not showing much of our playbook at all, makes me even more confident headed into that mid-October game.

How awesome is it going to be when Pribula runs on to the field to run a T formation on third and one against anOSU, gets to the edge fakes a toss to Kaytron, and then throws a 30 yard pass to Tyler Warren who snuck out of the backfield unnoticed and is now slowly jogging to the end zone?—mattinglywasking

I just got chills. This would be amazing, not the least because OSU fans would think we wouldn’t run such a play without Allar at QB.

Ryan Day just won a Coach of the Week award for narrowly winning a game in South Bend at the very last second because the opposing defense played a man short for the two final downs, allowing OSU score the game winning TD.

Can you share a time when you or someone else fell ass-backwards into praise or accolades for something you did, when in reality someone else just fucked up worse than you? Coach of the Buckeyes aside, that is.—skarocksoi

What is this, a job interview or a college essay question section?

Ryan Day did a fine job this week but wasn’t the best performing coach; as referenced above, I actually think David Braun did a much better job this week (especially in-game) than Day did.

And CJF and co did a remarkable job as well.

Is Ryan Day more unlikable than Urban Meyer? Urban did some stupid stuff, but he never attacked elderly men.—bva-psu

They’re unlikable in very different ways.

I actually don’t dislike Meyer as a studio analyst; I think he can provide valuable insight into the minds of some of these coaches, and his film breakdowns are very interesting. But as a coach I found him overrated, relying solely on out-talenting the other teams which can work for most games but not at the end of the season when the talent differential simply wasn’t there and you actually need to scheme to win.

As for Day, I find him a product of our society nowadays, complaining about and talking up grievances that, in many cases, simply aren’t there. You’re a head coach at Ohio State, for god’s sake. No one is counting you out of anything and you’re not being disrespected when a 90 year old man who’s always been a Domer homer and will always be a Domer homer picks against you.

If you are a high school punter who is a worthy D-1 prospect, do you look at programs which are typically horri-bad at football so that you get a lot of work or do you look at going to a contender so that you can contend for a ring?

Some SEC programs (and places like VT) don’t set aside a scholarship for kickers so this could also be a wild card in your decision.—LarzLion

It depends on what you want to do with your life after college.

Do you want to play in the pros? Go to Iowa and compete for the Ray Guy award. Are you expecting to continue on and work in finance or fruit sales? Then go to where you’ll be needed more sparingly, and could get a ring.

Over under on how long your girl and frat bro Travis Kelce’s relationship lasts?—swift_retribution

However long they both want it to. They’re making money off of the press (Kelce’s jersey is the best seller right now, and it’s not even close) and both clearly having fun; isn’t that what dating is supposed to be - having fun and enjoying the time together?

I just hope both of them have a blast and it doesn’t end with ill-will. Unless we get another grammy winning album out of it, in which case, eff you Travis Kelce.

Is Taylor Swift just a younger Christine Baranski?—Smee

I don’t see it, but to each their own?

Why is Hogwarts open for winter break? Makes no sense. And what do you think about Hagrid playing Hedwig’s Theme on his front porch in HP 1 after their evening detention trip to the woods? Is that insane or what? The guy is playing the soundtrack to the movie. It’s super bizarre. Check it out. Right now.—PSU1979dude

Most schools and universities in the non-wizarding world are also open over winter break, for the students who need it to be. Financially, there are many students (like the Weasleys) who wouldn’t be able to afford continued transportation for the students back and forth, especially if there isn’t a magical train that is seemingly-free to ride in order to get home. There’s also the food and heating costs associated with having more mouths to feed; if the school is open, that’s a financial burden on families that is somewhat eased.

There’s also those students who are abused, physically or emotionally, in their otherwise familial settings and sending them back to that situation sets them back from their educational trajectory.

Lastly, maybe John Williams was simply inspired by Hagrid’s tune and crafted the theme from the caretaker’s flute-playing itself! Have you ever considered that??

It’s been almost a year-and-a-half since the release of Dumbledore. We’ve had plenty of time to reflect on Johnny Depp being replaced by Mads Mikkelsen. How do we feel about this movie and the substitute Gellert Grindelwald?—Smee

I still haven’t seen that movie so I have no opinion on the matter. I’m still not sure I agree with Jude Law as Dumbledore, so I may not be the most appropriate person to answer this question.

Have the menu options really changed? and are you really experiencing a higher than expected number of calls?—kingkub

As someone whose company often puts up such messages, yes! This is many times the case!

I’m not saying that the menu options changed recently, but they definitely have changed. And we don’t put up the higher than expected number of call message unless that’s decidedly true, so at least in my real-world experience, it’s not fallacious at all.

What is the best pasta shape (besides the noodle arm)?—Liongame

Definitely cavatappi.

Your estimate of what year the following things will occur:

  • There will be one “official” language for the entire planet.
  • There will be one “official” currency for the entire planet.
  • There will be one “official” government for the entire planet.
  • There will be one electrical standard for the entire planet.
  • There will be one measuring standard for the entire planet.
  • There will be one driving standard for the entire planet.—Smee

Honestly, the only one of these that I actually could see happening without external forces beyond mere human control is the sole driving standard for the entire planet. There’s only a few countries that drive on the left, and the countries that do it aren’t manifesting destiny on a daily basis like we do in America, so may be more likely to adopt different standards.

The others on your list are either so disparate (because there are dozens if not hundreds of variations around the world) or require a country very obstinate in its superiority that change to the more-accepted standard would require a collapse the likes of which I don’t expect.

What’s the most difficult room in the house to remodel?—Liongame

This depends on the perspective - difficult for whom? The remodeler, or the home owner?

For the remodeler, I’d likely say something like a bathroom that is a tiny room without adequate lighting during the remodel in many instances, with fixtures and pieces that take up loads of room and might be difficult to get in and out.

From a home-owner perspective, I’d say something like a kitchen that requires the most decision making per square foot and, seemingly, the most possibility for one wrong choice to derail the entire room’s concept.

Which first world problem that people complain about do you find to be the most vexing?

For me, it’s the price of gasoline, but really only from a specific set of people. If you are driving a 1998 Camry with 250,000 miles on it to your second part time job that is 20 miles from home, then you have all the right in the world to complain.

But, if you are driving a 2023 GMC Yukon, with a Don’t Tread on Me sticker, have your engine running while you are waiting in line for a 7 dollar coffee at Starbucks, then you need to shut up!—Gerry Dincher

Honestly, it’s probably the complaints to servers about how long food is taking, especially at up scale restaurants. Most of the time, it’s not the server’s fault that food takes longer; and if you’re at a decent restaurant, odds are the food is cooked from scratch (and thus takes longer) anyway.

In whatever first world problem I’d choose, though, I think the answer to what I find vexing is just trying to be a little more understanding and giving grace to fellow humans. We all have stuff going on in our lives that few, especially strangers, can see, and no one is truly that important to be the focal point of a near-total-stranger’s existence.

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