Reminder: Add Extra DVR Time
For Penn State fans who enjoy recording the Nittany Lions on television each week, a lesson in humility was provided one year ago from this coming Saturday, along with a reminder that even with the latest technology, sometimes the human brain can be wiser than those microchips.
Nobody could’ve possibly written a script like the one that unfolded last October at Beaver Stadium between PSU and Michigan. So if you fall into the aforementioned category, it is advisable to execute the “extend recording by 120 minutes” option on your DVR for Saturday night.
State will of course visit Ann Arbor this weekend. Ann Arbor – it can be shuddering at times. Not because of the imposing crowd, which it greatly lacks. No; shuddering due to it being the home (literally/physically) of Joe Paterno’s BFF Dave Witvoet and that revered sideline made (in)famous by Tony Johnson’s (plural) feet and Jason Avant’s heel.
Ah, the memories.
Mostly for the natural ebb and flow of a football season, it would have been better for Penn State if Michigan had escaped New Jersey with a win last weekend. A desperate team became even more so. Putting that aside, though, this Michigan team is nothing short of terrible. Brady Hoke’s quarterback situation is a disaster and it gets worse from the top on down.
The one positive that Wolverine fans took from the loss to Rutgers was the strong showing from the running game in the second half. But that went down the drain when starting tailback Derrick Green was lost for the remainder of the season due to a broken collarbone.
Penn State should win this game with relative ease. Of course, the same was said here prior to the Northwestern game. This time, however, it should come to pass. Penn State is simply the better team with better coaching. The only notable lineup movement will see linebacker Nyeem Wartman return to action after he sat out two weeks ago with his arm in a sling. Wartman has shown slow improvement this season and the credit for that goes to outstanding LB coach Brent Pry. Wartman looked terribly lost on the field during the entire 2013 season and the early stages of the current campaign, but the redshirt sophomore’s controlled body movements and footwork against both Rutgers and UMass showed upward development. Now Wartman needs to take the next step and become worthy of his starting position, something he has yet to do in his career.
Head coach James Franklin is striving to secure one of the top five Big Ten bowl positions – a goal which can definitely be reached – and for that result to come to fruition, the process must start with a victory on Saturday night.
Assuming that Ohio State, Michigan State, or Nebraska (don’t sleep on Bo Nose in a rematch against the Spartans on a dry neutral field) represents the conference in the playoff (in the first year of the newly-formatted nonsense, the committee will be forced by public pressure to take the conference champion from each of the Big Ten, SEC, Pac-12 and ACC; the Big 12, without a conference title game, will be left out due to the fact that it won’t have an undefeated team), the other two will occupy the top two slots of the Citrus and Orange. The third non-playoff position (technically the fourth-best team) will likely come from the West Division in the form of either Northwestern or Iowa, with Wisconsin being/holding a/an distant third/outside shot and will travel to Tampa for the Outback Bowl.
If Franklin’s group can secure the next spot, the Holiday Bowl, San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer will be ecstatic for his economy. And Penn State fans should be even more euphoric.
Ever since Kevin Jones performed his Three-Card Monte routine with the sweaters or hats or whatever item of clothing it was during his announcement press conference nearly 15 years ago, the process by which kids reveal their respective decisions has become an exercise in showboating.
Penn State fans interested in the recruiting scene have been hysterical over the past few days when it was learned that Adam McLean, Franklin’s jewel of the 2015 class, will take all five of his official visits this fall. That coupled with the fact that Franklin just lost Brandon Wimbush’s verbal commitment to Notre Dame has sent jolts spiraling through Nittany Nation.
As has been noted ad nauseam, nothing is certain in college football recruiting until those faxes are transmitted in early February. That’s why it makes no sense to get overly-excited when a verbal commitment is received by your favorite team or too downtrodden when one is awarded to a rival. Some famous football coach once said something along those lines.
Nobody knows the ultimate destination except the prep stars themselves. Don’t forget that these kids are growing up in a much different society than existed just a decade ago. In today’s world of instantaneous gratification, most of these prospects – and “most” is stressed because there is still a minority percentage which gets it – are swayed by the most recent results/standings/news and fail to see the big picture.
News & Notes
Much to the pleasure of this space, Temple has officially shot down Franklin’s offer to move the 2015 opener to Thursday night, September 3. It is incredibly curious as to why Temple would not want it, but in the end it doesn’t matter. That ship has sailed – the game will remain on Saturday.
While on the topic of future games, there is an interesting dichotomy regarding the relationship between Franklin and Athletic Director Sandy Barbour. In public, the power players share hugs on the field after games and exchange pleasantries over the air at Damon’s during the Thursday night radio shows. But behind closed doors, they hold vastly different opinions as to how Penn State should approach future out-of-conference scheduling.
If it were up to Franklin, State would host Cabrini College, Millersville, Lock Haven, The Philadelphia College of Textiles and Sciences (now called Philadelphia University but it’s simply too hysterical to refrain from writing that school’s former name), Moore College of Art and Design and greatly-feared Strayer University from now until Rapture.
Barbour on the other hand wants to go big and go home-and-home. Florida State, Texas, UCLA and Oklahoma are all on her radar. The problem is that Franklin wants no part of it whatsoever.
It’ll be interesting to watch who…“wins” that battle.