Another casualty of the scandal? Other Penn State sports. People like me are so heartbroken we’re not giving them their due. It isn’t fair I suppose, but my motivation for the alma mater and everything about it is at an all-time low. Let me me correct that this morning — the Nittany Lions beat Illinois 54-52 at the Bryce Jordan Center. They did it wearing gray uniforms which were kind of dumb.
Beating Illinois is something the Nittany Lions do with regularity which is odd. We’ll take it. Tim Frazier made the game-winning layup. The Nits have beaten the Illini 3 out of the last 4 years in University Park on late shots.
Not a lot of people showed up, as usual, but it may have been snowing up there. The game was on ESPN2 as well. It is going to take time to wake
up the sleeping giant dude with a pituitary problem that is Penn State basketball. Coach Pat Chambers seems suited to the task.
Penn State is now 10-10 (2-5). I’m not going to start saying anything yet…
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:
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.
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.
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.
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
Joe Paterno Press Conference Transcript – Intercollegiate Athletics
Apparently Matt McGloin and Rob Bolden are alternating starts. McGloin will get Saturday’s, Bolden will get the one on November 5 and so on…
As always, I’m curious what the Maryland Bureau Chief thinks of the situation and Jones’ take on it.
By the way, after their flight was diverted hundreds of miles away from Urbana-Champaign due to this big blizzard (that missed D.C.), the Nittany Lions fell to Illinois last night (The Collegian) after busing over in the morning. Not a terrible lose, but they could have used a win. I maintain they are NIT-bound unless they get a miracle.
David Jones, the Patriot-News “beat” writer for Penn State hoops, who vowed to onlyn attend the Illinois game (and only because he had a commitment nearby), notes that the Nittany Lions have a RPI of 52. They probably need to win another 9 games to have any shot at the NCAA Tournament though. In the end, beating these ranked teams is mostly going to help the teams they lost to early in the season more than it helps themselves. The NIT is likely though and Penn State has done pretty well there historically, winning it two years ago.