PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS 10 Illinois Fighting Illini 7

Penn State football may be hazardous to your health
In the last 3 minutes of the Penn State Nittany Lions victory over the Illinois Fighting Illini, I noted that I feel my heart racing and wondered aloud what my heart-rate was then. I had not expected to actually measure it, but there just happened to be tools where I watching the game, so there you have it. The narrative was going to be that the 2011 Nittany Lions may be hazardous to your health, but at least in terms of heart rate, that’s not unhealthy (blood pressure would be considered “prehypertension” for the record). In fact, at my weight, that would be fat-burning if I was on an elliptical trainer. So, might the 2011 Nittany Lions make me leaner? Now we’re talking.

Winning ugly is better than losing pretty and winning fugly, even more so. I did not think Penn State would have as much trouble in the conditions as they did. I’m disappointed by them in that regard. It really exposed how not having a good tight end or fullback Joe Suhey catching he ball out of the backfield really hurt them I think. I should modify this criticism to note that the conditions (which on the field were merely wet I believe — snow never piled up on the field) did not hurt the defense which had about 10 tackles for a loss on the day. The two defensive tackles Devon Still and Jordan Hill combined for about 20 tackles and 4½ for a loss. LB Gerald Hodges had 19 tackles! MLB Glenn Carson, whose name I have not heard a lot this season, made some critical tackles as well. Drew Astorino also had some good tackles in the first half in particular. I am not sure the Illini even had a first down in the first half. The domination was that total.

The absence of WR Derek Moye hurt more than I thought it would. I had come the conclusion that the wideouts had shown enough with him off the field to not be worried. I have been proven wrong. Justin Brown dropped passes he normally would not have and Brandon Moseby-Felder reminded us why he hasn’t been seen much with a dropped pass and a penalty. That being said the woeful passing game could not be explained simply by receivers dropping balls, Matt McGloin was unimpressive in the 1st quarter, throwing several bad throws in additions to the drops. The high-water mark was a missed field goal from 43 yards out by Anthony Fera.

Even less impressive was Rob Bolden, who got to take snaps in the second quarter. I was not against that given how McGloin was playing but Bolden continued to show he has nothing to offer as quarterback right now. Has he been treated fairly? Probably not, but he simply does not have it.

Illinois showed signs of life late in the first half, alternating between quarterbacks Nathan Scheelhaase and Reily Ford, but a touchdown was called back by a penalty. Two plays later, a bad snap on a field goal attempt turned into an interception, one of 4 Illini turnovers on the day.

In the second half, Penn State continued to struggled offensively, while the Illini started improving a bit and getting actual yardage and first down. Late in the third quarter after stopping a McGloin sneak on 4th down, the Illini marched down the field for the game’s first score, a touchdown. The Penn State defensive was wearing down a bit, having had no support from the offense. The Nittany Lions drove down inside the 10, but Silas Redd was stuffed twice and McGloin was sacked and fumbled on third down. Penn State kept the ball and Fera finally got them on the board with a field goal. Illinois then held onto the ball until having to punt with about three minutes left in the game and the anemic Penn State offense needing to go 80 yards to take the lead.

Enter Moye. Just having him on the field made all the difference. His first reception after coming in on the final Nittany Lions drive seemed to focus the rest of the receievers, including Brown. Oh and Moye was interfered with all the down the field on the pass interference call on 4th down. Not seeing any other options, McGloin threw deep for Moye near the goal line. The 15 yard penalty and a completion to Moye put the Nittany Lions on the doorstep. Two Silas Redd (the only PSU runner to get any meaningful yardage, he ran better in the conditions than I expected and needs this bye badly) runs later and the improbable touchdown gave Penn State the lead.

Scheelhaase used his legs and his arm to get the visitors in field goal range. Then, as time was ready to expire, this happened:

Black Shoe Diaries simply said “This is why we love college football.”

Fight On State had a great view too:

I have been quite critical of the student section for blindly going along with Guido D’Elia’s efforts to make Beaver Stadium a generic experience, but they impressed me here. The doink of the football hitting the right crossbar concluded a shocking end to a frustrating game.

The win was Joe Paterno’s 409th as head coach, surpassing Eddie Robinson for the all-time Division I record.

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Beat writers on Penn State vs. Illinois; Paterno post-game presser

Bob Flounders and David Jones of the Patriot-News

Cory Giger and Neil Rudel of the Altoona Mirror

Frank Bodani and Jim Seip of the York Daily Record/Sunday News

Kevin McGuire of Examiner.com


Joe Paterno
post-game press conference courtesy of Blue White Illustrated

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Washington Redskins vs. Buffalo Bills Q&A with my co-worker Fred

My co-worker Fred, a Western New York state native, is this week’s guest prognosticator. I tried not troll him too much about Washington Redskins traveling to Orchard Park, N.Y. Toronto to play the Buffalo Bills.

WFY: The Buffalo Bills are 4-2, just like you expected, right — what in the name of Pete Metzelaars is going on in Buffalo? Perhaps having a QB who scores 48 out of 50 on the Wonderlic has some merit…

FMc: Going into the season, I was expecting 5 or 6 wins.. optimistically for 7 or 8. When your team is 4-12 the previous year, and play in the same division as the Patriots and Jets it’s tough to expect more, especially when the Jets load up on talent. Then there was the Lee Evans trade. That trade had me thinking fire sale, but now looks like a smart move.

I think that’s a big part of what’s going on with them, all around they’re being smarter. Coach Gailey has the offense working, they’re making smart personnel moves and Fitz is playing well. Another big part is Fred Jackson, he’s having a monster year so far.

WFY: Does Western New York State come to a stop when the Bills are on?

FMc: In college I worked at a Perkins in Fredonia right on route 60, right next to the NY State Thruway. Route 60 was always busy, all the chain stores and restaurants were located there. Sunday morning is prime time at Perkins, but around noon when the Bills played, it was quite different. The dining room would slowly become quiet, traffic would die down.. there was almost a hush over upstate NY. We’d listen to the games in back on the radio. Yes, it did come to a stop when the Bills were playing.

WFY: How is the Ralph Wilson Stadium experience? What about ticket availability?

FMc: Last time I went to a game was in 2005. It was great, good seats, nice crowd and they won. It was early in the year so the weather was very nice. I think it does depend a bit on where you sit, I was in what I would consider a family friendly area.

Back in the early 90s, I was a teenager and probably didn’t pick up on the overall experience as much. Back then I just cared about the game. I do remember there were quick a few fans that had a bit too much to drink, but nothing bad happened. Some swearing and getting sick after the game, but nothing that out of the ordinary. The crowd noise and energy was incredible though. I remember going to a Monday night game against the Broncos, wow did it get loud. Elway and co. were poised to tie the game on the final drive, and it became so loud, it was unbelievable. 4th down, incomplete. The 12th man can really make a difference in that stadium.

Just remember to dress warmly! My family took me to another game in December. We knew it was going to be cold. I had hats, gloves, scarves, sweat pants, snow pants (yes 2 pairs of pants), boots, hoods, sweatshirts.. I thought I was prepared. It was SOOO cold that day. My mother and sister left in the 1st quarter. I hate to admit this, but 5 minutes later my dad and I left as well. I never thought I would do that, but we did. There were cases of frostbite reported later on the news, probably guys who took their shirts off. I tried looking it up once, I believe the wind chill was -12.

Tickets? I’m not sure anymore. They always sell well, the fans are very loyal. Growing up they were usually gifts, but my friends and I bought some on occasion. Never seemed to be an issue, they would pack them in but there always seemed to be tickets available if you planned ahead.

WFY: The Redskins are traveling to Toronto to play the Bills. Do you see 1 game in Toronto as a savvy way to expand the fanbase into Ontario, another troubling sign of subjugation by the Canadians or a sign that the Bills have one foot out the door?

FMc: A lot of Bills fans consider this an away game. They haven’t won there yet, and I’m not sure it’s really expanding the fan base in Canada. I think it probably a lot of fans making the drive, or Canadians just checking oot this American football eh. They did pocket a good amount of money in the deal though, so if it helps I can’t knock it. The NFL just played a game in London, so I guess this is can be considered a good move, but I don’t have to like it.

WFY: How do Bills fans feel about nonogenarian owner Ralph Wilson? Is there concern that the Bills may depart? Or is everybody convinced Buffalo Sabres owner (and Penn State hockey rainmaker) Terry Pegula is going to buy the team?

FMc: I feel overall Bills fans love Ralph. He’s been around forever, kept the team in Buffalo and earned their respect. Some do feel that he needs to open up the wallet though, to get some more talent on the team and to keep players in Buffalo.

There’s always that concern that the team will move when Mr. Wilson dies. He’s said he’ll keep the team here, but when he goes who knows what will happen. For a while I thought Galisano might get the team. I know Pegula is interested, as well as Jim Kelly, in becoming owner (or part owners). I think the fan base is there, and the team is/can be profitable. I don’t see them moving. Plus, there are other NFL teams that are more likely candidates to depart.

WFY: Speaking of the Sabres, did you hear about Brett Hull trolling Buffalo fans on Twitter (Puck Daddy, Yahoo!)? Is he twisting the knife or is this kind of funny? Or both?

FMc: A bit of both if you ask me. He’s just having some fun. His foot was in the crease.

WFY: Which has been tougher, being a fan of the Bills when they were losing Super Bowls or of late when they are lucky to reach 7-9?

FMc: Super bowls hands down. We knew when Jim Kelly came to town things were going to change. All that talent, all those wins, all those great games.. and then to lose in the Super Bowl. Ugh. Four times in a row. Ugh.

With 7-9 (or near that) at least you don’t get your hopes up, and look to next season.

WFY: Who is the greatest Buffalo Bill of all time, your lifetime or both?

FMc: Oomph.. hard one. Kemp, Kelly, Reed, Thomas, even Tasker.. Simpson.. for me.. I would have to lean towards Bruce Smith. He was a monster. Just amazing. The opposing teams all knew him, prepared and planned for him, and could do nothing to stop him.

WFY: Do/did you watch Bills games with the sound turned down and the radio turned up?

FMc: Sometimes, not always. Van Miller was a great caller. He could segue into ads without skipping a beat, didn’t matter what happened on the field or what the ad was for, he could connect the 2 somehow. John Murphy was a good color guy too.

WFY: Who are the standouts for Bills media coverage?

FMc: On radio, Van Miller of course. Met him at a game once, very nice guy. Shook hands and everything. Class act. John Murphy is also very good, and became the main caller on the radio when Van retired.

There was another radio personality who I just can’t remember the name of. He hosted shows on the Bills and fielded a lot of calls from the fans. Very large fellow, name escapes me.

TV wise – I still remember Ed Kilgore from growing up there. As far as I know, he’s still the TV guy when it comes to the Bills.

Chris Brown – lead journalist for the Bills. Does a great job on their website, covers a lot of information and is very, very knowledgeable when it comes to the team. Answers a lot of fan questions and provides details you just can’t find anywhere else.

Another standout would have to be AVP (Alex Van Pelt), for being one of the worst color guys ever. Comments should be more than “Yeah” and “I guess”. Reminded me a bit of the color guy from Major League. I may be exaggerating a bit, but from my memory it doesn’t seem that far off.

WFY: How do you like the Bills new fauxback uniforms?

FMc: I think they’re great. About time. Big improvement over the last incarnation.

WFY: Oh the Buffalo teams your follow, which championship means the most?

FMc: For me, the NFL. NHL would be great, but the NFL is the king of sports and my favorite.

WFY: Everybody knows about buffalo wings, but I have only recently been made aware of beef on weck. Which would you prefer to chow down on while watching the Bills? Also, have you ever been to the Anchor Bar buffalo wings originated?

FMc: For my friends and family, it was always wings and pizza. I’ve never associated beef on weck with the Bills, or sports in general. For some reason I’m thinking more of informal church events, reunion/family type events, and maybe buffets.

Never been to Anchor Bar. Did go to Jim Kelly’s restaurant in downtown Buffalo in the 90s. It was like being in the Twilight Zone. No one was out. Not a soul. Not a car. I think I saw a tumbleweed stuck in a snow drift.

WFY: Final score prediction?

FMc: I’ll go with 34 – 20 Buffalo wins. I’m seeing Buffalos offense clicking, and the defense getting some turnovers.

WFY: I think the Bills win because their proximity to Canada means they’ll adapt better to the 3 downs and 110 yard field. No, in all seriousness the Redskins are too banged up and the Bills can score. Bills 27 Redskins 16

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WHITE OUT! Snow forecasted for tomorrow’s Penn State vs. Illinois game

Accuweather: 2 to 4 inches of snow on the way to Centre CountyCDT
Snow football aficionados like myself are thrilled that big snowstorm that is hitting much of the Northeast should hit State College for tomorrow’s Penn State vs. Illinois game.

The temperature on Saturday is expected to be around 32 degrees in the morning and increase to 36 or 37 degrees in the afternoon.

Travis said the slush and snow will likely be sticking around for the start of the 3:30 p.m. Illinois-Penn State football game at Beaver Stadium.

I’ll admit, playing snow football is more fun than watching it in the stands (snowballs/iceballs get old), but it makes for great TV viewing. In a more perfect world, the Illini would wear their orange jerseys tomorrow — that would look great on a white field with Penn State wearing blue.

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Penn State: Tall volleyball players are tall; 2 matches on BTN this weekend

Kabbes and Slay utilize heightThe Collegian
A profile of a pair of Katies from Raleigh, N.C., Kabbes and Slay and their height. Maybe in a few weeks, we can look forward to a Redhead volleyball players are redheads story too. :)

The Lady Spikers are ranked #11 headed into a weekend of home matches. Friday night, #112 Iowa visits for a 7 p.m. Big Ten Network telecast. Saturday night, #2 Nebraska returns for a 8 p.m. telecast.

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2001: Penn State vs. Ohio State: Joe Paterno breaks Bear Bryants record wins 324th game

Ten years ago today, I was sitting with my girlfriend (she’s my wife now) and friend Brad in section SEU, row 80. That is directly under the scoreboard in the top row of the south end zone upper deck. There were occasional flurries and a big 18 point 2nd half deficit. I promise it isn’t revisionist history to say I wasn’t worried that the Penn State Nittany Lions would win that day. I had faith that Zack Mills could bring the Lions back and beat the Ohio State Buckeyes. Even after a pick six off a deflection, I had absolute faith that Mills would do it.

I was right.

The play that changed momentum, a frameshift really, was a QB draw play that Mills bounced off a few Buckeye tacklers for about a 69 yard run. It was incredible. That was the beginning of a 20 point run that put Penn State up 29-27 with most of the fourth quarter to go. They held on and won to go 2-5 on the season.

The win was a record-breaking 324th for head coach Joe Paterno. After being bested head-to-head by Paul “Bear” Bryant, Paterno no exceeded his rival’s all-time victory total.

Here are the highlights:

Here is the Penn State Football Story recap:

That day was also the beginning of a post-game tradition I’ve mentioned a number of times. The week before after a last second win over Northwestern Paterno mentioned he was going to “get in trouble with a good stiff bourbon” and I decided to start toasting to every Penn State victory with his favorite spirit.

Let’s hope he breaks Eddie Robinson’s all-time division I record on Saturday.

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Blue White Roundtable: Penn State vs. Illinois

Adam Collyer of Black Shoe Diaries has questions and I HAVE THE ANSWERS

BSD: Northwestern’s offensive output against the Penn State defense was rivaled only by Alabama. What made the Wildcats so effective? What adjustments did Penn State make in the second half?

Getting the ball in the red zone 5 seconds has a way of increasing the opposition’s effectiveness, no? A big factor is Northwestern is very good and taking advantage of Penn State’s soft coverage, especially early. Also, Dan Persa is a really good QB and he completed something like 80% of his passes, many of them quick ones. The Wildcats have matched up well against Penn State for years and usually score a bunch of first half points.

Half-time adjustments certainly helped Penn State, so did Jordan Hill getting that big arm up in the path of a pass that Gerald Hodges intercepted off a deflection. Additionally, Northwestern’s offense left it all on the field…in the first half. They don’t have the stamina/talent to go 60 minutes this season.

BSD: Illinois also features a mobile quarterback and an option style attack. How helpful is it to have played Northwestern one week before facing Illinois?

I think Northwestern is a good primer for Illinois to a degree, but hopefully the Nittany Lions defense has recovered sufficiently. If this were a noon kickoff in Champaign, I’d be pretty concerned.

BSD: Welcome back, Stephfon Green. How large of a role do you see him playing for the rest of the season?

I think Green will get a big role because he’s a better pass blocker than the other guys on the depth chart and that is why he got so much time last week. I don’t see him taking any plays off either, he’s got precisiou few games left and he’s got to be hungry after being off the team. That being said, just because he was successsful running up the middle against Northwestern does not mean he should be called on to run that play ever again.

BSD: Gerald Hodges has emerged as the playmaker he was expected to be coming out of high school. Can he continue his streak of exceptional play against the Illini?

I think asking anybody to duplicate their performance from Northwestern game is asking an awful lot. He had about 13 tackles and that interception. That being said, he’s a force and a pleasure to watch. Illinois might try to go a different direction than the one he’s in which is also highly desirable.

BSD: Predictions

Joe Paterno will have more sideline and game awareness than Ron Zook. The Illini will wear pants that appear to be stolen from the Denver Broncos. The Lavar Leap will be replayed at least once during the game. The defense will be angry after last year’s embarrassment. The weather will be awesome (I’ll probably watch the game from my parents house with a roaring fire). In a shocking development, Jay Paterno will be on the sidelines. Penn State fans will read nothing into it, that’s a lock. Amish Buggy Alumni will become a beloved and endearing term. There should be a bye week roundtable; probably a Northern Virginia/DC BSD bye-week happy hour (can’t confirm I could attend though). I will pronounce the opposition as “eely nwah” because StrongBad (remember him?) did once. Oh yeah, Penn State wins a physical game that will be extremely stressful and leave the Nittany Lion desperately needing a bye week. Of course, they could also score a few times early and demoralize the Illini, but that would isn’t the way things go this year. PENN STATE 27 Illinois 20

The Roundtable

JoePa’s Doghouse
Nittany Lions Den
The 50-Yard Lion

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What do we call Nittany Lion fans who aren’t Penn State alumni?

Fighting Irish fans who did not attend the University of Notre Dame du Lac have been known as Subway Alumni since the 1920s. Somebody like Grantland Rice probably coined the term for Irish Catholic New Yorkers who adopted Notre Dame as their team and would ride the subway to Yankee Stadium or the Polo Grounds when the Fighting Irish would play there. Of course now, it refers mostly to people who might have had one Irish grandparent and go to church on Christmas and Easter and occasionally watch the game with submarine sandwiches from a national chain.

This week, I heard the expression “Dirt Road Alumni” to describe fans of SEC teams when they did not go to those universities. That’s pretty funny.

So, I got to thinking, what should we call Penn State fans who did not attend the university since we don’t have a subway and Pennsylvania roads are (nominally) paved.

From now on, I think Penn State fans who didn’t go to the university should be known as — Amish Buggy Alumni.

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