Okay, Penn Staters, can you remember the last time that watching the Nittany Lions was so much fun? It has been a while. Saturday night’s Penn State victory over Michigan was a shockingly satisfying victory over a long-hated rival. I did not think the Nittany Lions had it in them.
Several performances highlighted the 41-31 win over the Wolverines. Evan Royster ran with determination not seen since last year on the way to nearly 100 yards in the first half, 150 overall and the all-time Penn State rushing record. The offensive line paved the way for only the second time all season. I had not anticipated the line being able to push Michigan around as it did which was why I suggested in my prediction that Penn State would have to throw the ball and hope to keep up with Michigan’s quarterback Denard Robinson. I am pleasantly surprised to be wrong, the Nittany Lions had the ball for over 37 minutes which kept Robinson off the field. I am thrilled Penn State could execute that strategy.
The other big Nittany Lions storyline was Matt McGloin’s first start. Now, we are all predisposed to like McGloin because he’s a walk-on with spunk and so forth, but I am even more predisposed because he wears my favorite number — 11. Penn State has never had a quarterback in my memory that wore that number, so I was pulling for him there too. My concern was his inexperience and tendency to throw caution to the wind would lead to some poor throws and interceptions. I was proven wrong Saturday night with McGloin playing within himself, making lots of smart decisions (like his scramble for a first down early in the game) and good throws. He did make a few bad throws, but the Wolverines were ill-equipped to capitalize. McGloin further endeared himself during the post-game remarks by mixing humilty and bravado while talking with sideline reporter Holly Rowe. Congratulations McGloin, on the best night of your life, you are now a folk hero.
McGloin’s opposite number, Robinson, came as advertised, an incredible football player. Robinson had an “off” night of running for 191 yards and passing for 190. His completion percentage, over 65% headed into last night, was below 50%. Penn State’s defense has a lot to be proud of in “containing” him. Even with the off-night, Robinson led Michigan to 31 points. He’s scary good and really the only player Michigan has on their roster. Seriously, I should have titled this post Penn State 41 Denard Robinson 31. He’s that good and not having to see him again (in all likelihood) is surely a great relief to the coaching staff. I can only imagine how good he’d be on a team with a real offense or defense. His talent is being actually wasted at Michigan. It is amazing how bad the Wolverines are in every part of the game that does not involve Robinson.
It is quite satisfying to see Michigan this bad. The followers of Wolverine football will never admit it, but their coach Rich Rodriguez is just a perfect Michigan man. He’s all hype and arrogance, but his resume is hollow as a sewer main, just like Michigan. What better for a program that brags about their all time wins constantly, but lacks national championships? Half a national championship in 50 years is something the world is supposed to be awed by? Really Michigan, BYU has twice as many national championships as you! Winning the Big Ten and losing the Rose Bowl every other year for 30 years is not nearly as special as you think. You deserve such a poor tactician and leader as RichRod. Oh and by the way, ESPN really should have put a camera just on RichRod’s face for the whole game. Every time he saw him in the first half, he looked utterly defeated or as if his cat just died. In the second half he started yelling all the time, probably at the poor officiating, but it should have been directed at himself for running a football team so poorly. Just a joy for this Penn Stater to watch!
Next week, Penn State plays Northwestern at 3:30 on ABC or ESPN2 (depending on where you live) as Joe Paterno goes for his 400 career win. Few were as fun as his 399th.