Kevin from Penn State Clips has this week’s questions.
1) The BCS Championship Game dream is dead, but Penn State can still go to the Rose Bowl (at least in theory). What’s your best guess about our final record and bowl destination?
At the beginning of the season, I predicted 11-2 with a loss to Illinois, I figured Iowa was a win. However, Illinois is worse than I expected and the game is a 3:30 p.m. kickoff helps Penn State. Anyway, I guess I should stick with that prediction, but I will say Capital One Bowl.
2) Illinois beat I-AA Illinois state, but sandwiched it with losses to Mizzou (37-9 in St. Louis) and at Ohio State (30-0). They have, by far, the worst pass offense in the Big Ten and their pass defense stinks as well. They put little pressure on the quarterback (1.3 sacks per game) and they do a lousy job in protecting the passer (3.33 sacks per game). In short, the Illini stink. Who rights, the ship on Saturday, PSU or Illinois? Discuss.
If you lose two games by an average of 29 points, you are pretty bad. I expect Penn State to right the ship this weekend because the defense is strong and the offense probably just played their worst game. Illinois probably plays better against Penn State than they did against Ohio State and Missouri, but it won’t be enough.
3) The Nittany Lions are 2-8 this decade in Big Ten openers and 3-6 in Big Ten road openers. (Obviously there’s some overlap there.) The two wins in Big Ten openers were during the championship years of 2005 and 2008. What’s the problem?
Four of those years were the dark times, so that was half the problem. The other problem is the team has trouble playing early games on the road which a number of Big Ten openers tend to be, last week notwithstanding. Also, when the non-conference schedule winds up being pretty soft like this year, they don’t learn anything the first few weeks and probably get a little bored.
4) Last week’s blocked punt for an Iowa touchdown was the turning point in the game. Twice this decade a kickoff return touchdown has been critical in an Illinois victory over Penn State and the way things are going it could happen again Saturday. What’s the problem with Penn State’s “special” teams? Poor coaching? Lack of a dedicated special teams coach? Not getting our best athletes on the field?
I disagree that the punt block was the turning point of the game. I think the safety that put Iowa on the board was the critical play — it gave the Hawkeyes confidence and may have rattled the offense.
I think poor coaching is a big part of the special teams problems, though I don’t expect Joe Paterno to run any on-side kick drills anytime soon. Not many college teams have a special teams coach though, if I recall correctly.
The line is Penn State -7. Cover or no?
Are you going to the game?
I don’t go to many games in Happy Valley, much less the middle of Illinois. It is not in the top tier of Big Ten schools to visit.
True or false: Chief Illiniwek was retired as the Illinois mascot after protests by members for the Illiniwek tribe
False, there is no such thing as the Illiniwek tribe. The NCAA wanted to get rid of Native American symbolism by its member institutions. I’m ambivalent about the subject.
Will Chicago be awarded the 2016 Olympics on Friday?