As the season grows closer, I begin to gaze over the Penn State schedule and wonder ‘Is this the year?’. Well, why I’d love to dream of such a great end to a legends’ career (Paterno) if he truly did decide to throw in the towel, I don’t see another banner waving for the blue and white. However, I definitely see this team having Rose Bowl potential and quick possibly ending up 2nd in the Big Ten. Sadly, though, this would take a lot more than just desire to win it this year.
After watching some Big Ten network, I watched some of the Wisconsin training camp. Previously, I figured okay, well last year, both PSU and Illinois who ran a spread offense ate up Wisconsin’s D, I don’t expect much difference there, but for any die-hard fan, you’d have to expect that Wisconsin realized this as well, and it seems they are going to try and mix things up a bit. I think this years contest might prove to be a bit tougher than last. Yet, this works both ways, so don’t get me wrong, I still believe PSU will take it again from the Badgers, but for some reason, I just can’t shake my ill-confidence in this years’ offense.
I do like Daryll Clark, don’t think that, it’s more or less, I miss Michael Robinson, and perhaps I just compare too much of PSU’s Quarterbacks since him, but I think Clark does have the desire and ability to do amazing things this year, but I lack of certain sense of ‘superstar’ worth on him. Devlin and Cianciolo I believe will be great assets to have on the bench and, along with Paterno, am glad when any team (more or less, ones I root for) have difficulties in picking a starting QB. It’s not so much that they all suck, it just means they are all as equally good (well, we can hope for the latter, right?) and have the potential to rock their position.
As the Coastal Carolina game grows closer to kick off, I decided to go and speak with some students and players and see what they thought of this years’ squad. Some thought as I did, some disagreed, being the main key point, ‘You’ve yet to see Clark in true form and action. He’s going to be a lot different than your predicting when he receives consistent snaps and gets into a rhythm. Once in that rhythm, you won’t see (Robinson) his potential, but you’ll see what makes him unique and why he shouldn’t be compared to anyone, no matter how good they were.’ Hm, strong words, and I know now, don’t ask someone who wants to be a Sports Critic ever again, it just makes you feel stupid sometimes.
With a very light depth chart, I inquired about what direction do they see the team going, if, God forbid, injuries incurred, like say, another Sean Lee? It’s a well thought out year, it seems this year. Plenty of precautions and the likes, and honestly, I wasn’t surprised regular students were about their own team. In camp, decent players, like Timmons, Powell, Lucien, Landolt, and Eliades (just to name a few) were taught how to play new, and different positions, were such to happen. Spirits seemed very high, and confidence is definitely up there.
So, season predictions anyone? Yes, don’t worry, I explained they had to be realistic. Here’s what I got from 250 people I surveyed.
1. 10-2 – 131 Votes (52%)
2. 11-1 – 68 Votes (27%)
3. 9-3 – 27 Votes (11%)
4. 12-0 – 18 Votes (7%)
5. 8-4 – 6 Votes (2%)
Okay, who let these 8-4 jerks on campus?!
So, what did I learn from all this? PSU still has the BEST BBQ at the games, mmm. I can’t wait until this season kicks off. Look for the ‘white-out’ to be a major impact on home games this year, with the student section going nuts. I mean, you do remember what ESPN news anchor was quoted for saying, right? ‘This is one of the best student sections in the nation. Those guys are crazy!’ Kirk Herbstreit said that. Think I’m making that up? Do a search in Utube for the video, some PSU fans put that up.
So, onto my prediction, since you all seem to care what I think, (Not really, I know).
I think some games won’t even be close, with that sick defensive unit, but unless you are the Bears of two years ago, defense won’t win you every game. Pending everyone stays for the majority of the season, healthy, and keep this momentum and adrenaline pumped atmosphere, they should do fairly well.
1. Coastal Carolina should be a walk in the park. I expect to see them dominant primarily on both sides of the ball, and hopefully avoid and slip ups and hold onto the ball.
2. Oregon State should be a good game to watch. Despite some disagreement will fellow friends and fans, I don’t think they’ll simply walk into this game and destroy them, but they’ll still come out on top.
3. The Syracuse game will be in NY. I’ll be there. I’ll be watching them come out on top on this one. I don’t really follow SU ball, but I hear it should be a close game at first but PSU will take the 2nd half as their own time to shine.
4. I like Temple. It’s a nice school in a nice place in Philadelphia. Geno’s steaks isn’t too far from there either, but despite that all, Temple hasn’t scored a point on PSU in what? Two years now? I think I’ll be kind and give them a field goal in this years’ contest.
5. With Juice missing his lethal targets from last year, maybe not all of them, but the ones I recall off hand, I think there is going to be a lot of pressure on those legs this year to beat teams and I’m not sure how long, if that happens, he can actually maintain his own momentum. PSU pulls it out this year for vengeance for last years’ loss to Illinois.
6. Ah, Purdue. I remember Painter from last year. Without belittling this team, PSU pulls it out again. Right about now, I’d be popping out some cold ones and watching the replay of PSU over Texas A&M again, just because cockiness doesn’t win in any sport.
7. Wisconsin. Ugh. I went over this earlier. I’m sticking with my opinion. Despite their changes, I see a result much like last year, maybe closer in score, however, this all, riding on the fact everyone is still healthy, and we’ve got a low rate of turnovers.
8. I really can’t decide if I hate Michigan or I hate Ohio State more. Well, I shouldn’t use the word ‘hate’. I will give them respect, they are good Universities and what not , but, as a PSU faithful, I can’t ‘not’ hate them, right? Go ahead, brag Wolverines, 10 years is quite an achievement, however, this year you go down. I see a close battle coming down to the wire, but somehow, someway, PSU prevails.
9. Speaking of the devil. Ohio State follows Michigan? Oh, brother… Well, here goes. I think this game is going to count on a few things, but in the end, I do see the slim possibility they could pull this out, however—First, the team has to be in supreme form and they have to ‘want’ it more, not like last year, where they just seemed to ‘let it go’. They need that Giants/Patriots mentality going into this one. OSU won’t take Paterno and his squad lightly, as they might. I mean, you’re going into a game against PSU, who has NEVER won in Columbus? Come on, what’s not to be cocky about? Another thing, adrenaline. If they come off after a win over Michigan, and OSU takes them ‘lightly’ and uses the ‘we already won’ mentality, with combined team efforts of not turning the ball over and not backing down… Then and only then, do I see Penn State beating OSU this year. Or, under the same simple star as fate, they lose to Michigan, and get so psychotic, they destroy OSU. Either way… those conditions are just a slim possibility.
10. Now, after dealing with that. No matter the outcome, JoePa, won’t let his kids slack off or take anyone else lightly. Preparing for Iowa should prove that. I think they go into the cornfields this year and come out with only a few bruises. Close one, but PSU takes it.
11. From what I heard, Indiana doesn’t look horrible this year, but shouldn’t be a problem for PSU. After looking into it some, I do agree. I think the score won’t reflect how close the game really was. PSU wins.
12. Revenge for last years’ meltdown is at hand. Might be a little similar to last year, but without the comeback.
Final Prediction: 11-1*
* Failing to win in Columbus again this year.
· Watch the Purdue game; that seems like a trap.
· Don’t underestimate Michigan. Rodriguez will have a clue how to run his team by then.
· Stay focused after facing Wisconsin, Michigan, and OSU in a row.
· Turnovers to a minimum.
· Refrain from mental errors.
· ‘The score is never out of reach.’ After last years’ comeback, remember to play until the final whistle.
I see them doing exceptionally well, if they stick to the basics, and keep the ‘want-to-win’ mentality they have going into this year after all this off-season mumbo-jumbo.