WNN PENN STATE PREGAME #6

#6 Ohio State at #16 PENN STATE

This is the BIG one. The buzzing you hear is Happy Valley, going crazy for the biggest game in three years (and the most important Penn State vs. Ohio State game in Beaver Stadium since 1997). The hype for this one cannot be overestimated, this is a BLOCKBUSTER game, it should be an intense slugfest.

With all the excitement generated by this matchup, people are wondering if Penn State is back. I have to say, it is still too early to tell. In fact, I do not think we can say that until the end of the season, or even next season. The 2002 squad was pretty good, but they were only “back” for one season. I think Penn State will be back when three losses is a major disappointment.

TAILGATE

We will be hosting the tailgate again (Erica is done with baby showers for a while). We will be in Lot 11 or 12. Look for the Yurasko flag.

LAST WEEK

Penn State caught everyone (especially the Gophers) off guard by routing Minnesota, 44 – 14 for their most complete Big11Ten win in years. I did not think they had it in them. One thing I forgot to note in my WWN Post-Game #5, was that late in the game Derrick Williams got up limping a little bit. I have not heard anything about it since then though.

THIS WEEK’S OPPONENT: OHIO STATE BUCKEYES

Michigan State may be our official season-ending rival, but the one team that we get the most excited about in Happy Valley is our other protected rival, Ohio State. Over the years we have seen some incredible contests between the two border rivals. In fact, other than 1999, every game between two teams since 1995 has been decided by four points or less.

1995: OSU 28 PSU 25
1997: PSU 31 OSU 27
1999: PSU 23 OSU 10
2001: PSU 29 OSU 27
2003: OSU 21 PSU 20

Of those five, at least three of them have to be in the top 10 games I have ever seen in person. If I have time I am going remininse about them on Thursday or Friday. Keep an eye out.

This year, the Buckeyes come in with a 3 – 1 record, with their only blemish a primetime loss to Texas. They are fairly similar to us in a lot of ways; shaky but productive quarterback, speedy wideouts, and outstanding linebackers. In fact, if you want an idea of what their linebackers are like, imagine ours next season, with more experience, and you pretty much have it.

Adding to the rivalry for me was my work on Buckeye Buzz for my job. My department developed it for a bunch of newspapers in Central Ohio. I have still have a note on my desk from the managing editor at one of them that he left on a visit to corporate headquarters in 2003.

GO BUCKS! (We pay off the refs)

Indeed, one has to wonder if that was the case back then when an OBVIOUS incompletion was counted as an OSU reception on the game’s penultimate drive, which sealed it for Ohio State. More on that in day or two.

PRESS CONFERENCE RECAP

Here is the transcript from the Post-Gazette. Audio is available at FightOnState.com. Paterno’s main point — it’s just one game of six remaining. Good attitude coach, we all need to adopt it — to a point.

NATIONAL FOCUS ON HAPPY VALLLEY

Wednesday had two articles from major papers on the Nittany Lions.

Freshmen Add New Flavor to Penn StateThe Times
Williams and King are said to have made a handshake deal in the parking lot of the Creamery. One wonders why none of the local papers got that scoop.

Robinson in high gear as Penn State QBUSA Today
Probably the best press any 13 for 32 QB has ever gotten.

Closer to Happy Valley, Walt Moody says welcome back to the bandwagon. In Harrisburg, Dave Jones (an OSU alumnus) loves the border rivalry and Bob Flounders writes that PSU-OSU matters again. Jones also says that Penn State would be #4 in the BCS. As I said to Muha, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Lastly, Sirage Yassin of The Collegian is dumbfounded by the hype: This is getting insane.

BEANO WATCH

Carroll H. Cook (’54 Pitt) has been surprisingly sharp this season predicting Penn State’s fortunes. It kind of makes me feel — unclean. His accurate predictions about Penn State football are just too weird. I just have to wonder if we are looking at fire and brimstone coming down from the skies; rivers and seas boiling, forty years of darkness, earthquakes, volcanoes, the dead rising from the grave, human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together – mass hysteria.

So, let’s see what he has to say this week, shall we?

Kyle (Indianapolis, IN): What are your thoughts on the Penn State / Ohio State game?

Beano Cook: (3:10 PM ET ) This is one of the biggest games of the weekend. You have to remember that since PSU joined the Big Ten it is 7-15 against Michgian and OSU, including six stragiht losses against Michigan and six straight losses in Columbus against OSU. One reason PSU is not winning the way it used to is because the officials are no longer shafting the visiting team as they did in 1982 aganist Nebraska. People will tell you the officials in the Penn State games were the most biased of any in the ’80s. That was the kind of stuff that cost them part of the national title in 1994. It was payback by the coaches.

Beano Cook: (3:11 PM ET ) But PSU has a very good chance this weekend. The atmosphere will be perfect and the fans are hungry. I said before the season PSU would win eight or nine, and a win here would mean 10-1 or 11-0. Let me stress, the Big Ten is NOT the SEC and it’s not that hard to win in the Big Ten.

Interesting comments by Beano. In my experience, the Big11Ten officials favor the team with the best record if they favor anyone. Also, he does not give out a specific prediction about this week, so that is *probably* a good thing. He does continue to praise Penn State and say they are going to have a fantastic record though, which has me very concerned. I mentioned earlier, he has been very accurate lately…

His next question is an immediate follow up:

Dave, Toronto: Beano, you’re probably right about the Penn State officials, but come on, the officials at South Bend were 10 times more corrupt in the 80’s than the ones at Happy Valley. (See ’88 ND vs. Miami game).

Beano Cook: (3:14 PM ET ) I disagree. I think the officials might have missed a big one there, but I have not felt that way about Notre Dame for a long time. And I’m not a Notre Dame fan!

Beano Cook: (3:16 PM ET ) A Penn State example: PSU beat Notre Dame in 1983, 34-31, in a game that was as tough as any I have ever seen and there was not a single penalty called against Penn State. That’s the kind of monkey business I’m talking about. You think that would happen in the Michigan-Ohio State game. But Michigan doesn’t feel like that was the case in 2001 at Michigan State, when one second took 10 seconds.

But wait, there’s more:

Bill,WI: With the badgers 5-0 and only 3 more tough games on the schedule (at minnesota, at penn state, and purdue, not counting at northwestern) do the badgers have any chance of running the table, and if they do what bowl will the be invited to

Beano Cook: (3:47 PM ET ) Purdue isn’t that tough, as we’ve seen; Minnesota isn’t that tough after last week, but they won’t beat Penn State. So no, they won’t run the table. They have a chance thanks to the cupcake non-conference games, but I don’t think Wisconsin beats PSU. Wisconsin and Minnesota fans should take a look at the schedules those teams played 40 years ago. It’s a disgrace the way these games are being set up. Smaller schools want a paycheck and big ones want wins, and it’s not fair to anyone.

This could be very good news for Brenda in Madison, along with dl004d.

As we get to the end of the chat, Beano tempts fate, picking Penn State for the second week in a row:

Ryan (Pittsburgh): Beano – your PSU pick was right last week? What it’s gonna be this week?

Beano Cook: (3:59 PM ET ) I take a two-game winning streak into the weekend (2-3 overall) and I had success with PSU last week so I’ll take them again: Penn State 31, OSU 14.

Beano Cook: (4:00 PM ET ) I will see you all next week at the same time, and hopefully I’ll have pulled even. And don’t forget that GameDay will be in Happy Valley, giving a little more juice to the Nittany Lions!

I have never wanted Beano to succeed more than right now.

TELEVISION

No worries this week, as the game is ESPN’s primetime offering, which I assume means that we will get Ron Franklin doing the game. I wonder if he will call the sideline reporter “sweetheart” again. It must be weird for him not being in the SEC for two weeks in a row.

ESPN College Football Gameday will also be broadcasting from Happy Valley this Saturday and ESPN 2’s Cold Pizza will be there Friday morning. In case you were wondering the “wild and unpredictable” hostess is no longer on Cold Pizza, having been replaced by the likes of Woody Paige and Skip Bayless.

WEATHER

DON’T WORRY IF YOU FORGET TO PACK THE SUNSCREEN, the high on Saturday is expected to be in the mid 50s. Of course, since the game is at night, the gametime temperature is going to be closer to the nightime low in the 30s. It is going to be windy too. Basically, we are getting some FOOTBALL WEATHER. Bring a blanket, some Chap Stick, and maybe your gloves. Due to this weather, the tailgate is going to have hot beverages.

BIG BANDS

As if our beloved Blue Band is not enough, The Ohio State University Marching Band will be at the game too. No word on if Beano will finally get to dot the “i.”

PREDICTIONS

First off, I expect to see either Williams or Justin King returning punts on Saturday. They were back there at the Blue White Game and I think ol’ JoePa has been saving them for a big game.

Damn, this looks like a good matchup. Penn State probably has a better offense and weaker defense and vice-versa. Man, this is a tough one. OSU has one big, primetime battle under their belt and while they lost, they were close againist the #2 team in the country. They do have troubles coming off of bye weeks though, only 1 – 3 in the Jim Tressel era. You also have use the old Bob Hayes rule on Ted Ginn, Jr. — “we are already losing 7 – 0 because he is going to score.”

In the end though, I am picking Penn State. I have been right so far and they are due for a win over Ohio State. I expect nothing short of a dogfight. Penn State 27 Ohio State 23.

IN CLOSING

Go STATE, beat BUCKEYES!

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