Wednesday, October 31, 2007

More fan interactions from PSU v. OSU weekend

I didn't voice these before but after all of this, I figure I might as well spill it all. Much of what I saw was also seen by Tas so I'm sure he could echo these statements as well. While what happened outside of the frat honestly seems like the tip of the iceberg to me, the point blank beer can throw definitely beats anything I saw.

I was out tailgating in the IM Fields for quite some time before the game. Every time an OSU fan walked by on Park Avenue, he/she would expectedly get showered with boos. However, if said OSU fan took the extra step of walking towards the tailgating crowds in a taunting manner/make a not so nice gesture/mouth back, you would see dozens of beer cans soar towards the fan. When I say dozens, I'm not kidding. It reminds me of those movies where armies fire off tons of arrows at the opposing army. It was like that, but with beer cans.

Another fan was stupid enough to walk down Park Avenue with a giant OSU flag. That guy took the brunt of many beer cans soaring his way as well as multiple people running at him in an attempt to steal his flag.

Finally, there was an older guy who was stupid enough to come to the student entrance and start taunting them. Expectedly, he received an aluminum shower.

Now, I'm not really sure what provoked this whole thing that was on the video but what I've noticed is that in all of the cases that PSU fans showed this kind of behavior (that I personally witnessed) was after some sort of taunting or classless behavior by OSU fans. I am in no way condoning what PSU fans did. Violence against other fans is flat out stupid and wrong but OSU fans were always the ones provoking the situation (again, that I witnessed). I know, free speech and you should be able to do whatever you want, blah blah blah. But just use some common sense people. You don't go into another person's house and mock/taunt them and tell them how much better you are (especially if the host is drunk). I saw plenty OSU tailgates existing peacefully amongst a ton of PSU tailgates because they kept to themselves, as did the PSU fans. Either way, when one side brings violence into the equation, that side is very wrong and in this case, that side is Penn State fans. I don't want to sound like I'm defending the PSU fans that threw stuff. I'm not. What I'm simply trying to say is that it's not like they were always saying "hey, there's an OSU fan, let's just start throwing stuff at him/her."

When it comes right down to it, nobody won. Fans from both sides pretty much looked like a--h---- all weekend. While ultimately everyone is responsible for their own actions, I'd say the University/State College Police did a pretty poor job of protecting OSU fans. I mean, I saw the brunt of things occur around the intersection of Park and University; a very, very busy intersection/place to be on game day. A cop or two should be stationed there all day on such a weekend. Why weren't they? Oh that's right...they were busy busting people for underage drinking, nailing ~70 people in all. I'm pretty sure that beer getting thrown at someone is more of a hazard than someone under 21 drinking it.

Only to be outdone by ourselves: TOTAL LACK OF CLASS

For those of you that haven't heard, fraternity members/party goers at the Pi Kappa Alpha house assaulted Ohio State fans by throwing beer cans at them before the game on Saturday. I've been writing about class in recent posts (and ripped OSU for ruining the Paternoville banner that was to be auctioned off for charity) but this is despicable. There are numerous sites that have the video. It is definitely not safe for work or for children to see. If you'd like to see the video visit:

Men of the Scarlet and Gray

The Nittany Line

Run Up the Score

I also urge all Penn State fans to go to the Men of the Scarlet and Gray blog and voice your apology and tell them that that is not true Penn State behavior. I have already commented on the video and voiced my apologies and assured them that those frat idiots are a minority at Dear Old State.

Here is the Daily Collegian article.

The University has issued this statement:

As Associate to the President for Administration, I help Dr. Spanier address the important issues that are brought to his attention.

Thank you for sharing your concerns about the behavior of some of our fans. Media accounts following the game indicated that fans were spirited, but overall exhibited better behavior, so I am disappointed to see the youtube video. Our Office of Police Services is investigating it in an attempt to identify those involved. It is extremely unfortunate and embarrassing that some fans engage in behavior that reflects badly on all Penn Staters, the majority of whom are respectful and well-mannered.

A group of students and administrators have been meeting to encourage better behavior from our fans. A number of initiatives are underway–posters have been placed around campus, ads have been placed in the student newspaper and on television promoting good sportsmanship. Prior to the Ohio State game, a message from the Athletic Director was sent to all students via the student newswire concerning appropriate fan behavior. Coach Paterno also addressed the issue when he visited the students camping outside the stadium. Clearly more can be done and we will continue to work on this.

Coordinating these efforts into an effective campaign that garners results does not happen overnight, but we are committed to the effort and to its success.

I will be sure the President sees your note. Thank you for taking the time to write.

Sincerely,

Tom Poole

Thomas G. Poole, Ph.D.
Associate to the President for Administration


And from WTAJ:

STATE COLLEGE, CENTRE COUNTY - State College Police said Tuesday they were surprised to see a horrific display of almost unimaginable behavior from a group of Penn State fans partying before last Saturday's football game outside Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house.

After the video was shot, it was uploaded onto www.youtube.com. Concerned fans forwarded the violent video to police, and WTAJ. Police do not think the attack is random.

“This person appeared to be singled out by several people, and assaulted for no reason except the fact that he was wearing an opposing team's jersey,” State College Police Sergeant Keith Robb said.

Party goers even congratulated a man after he hit the Buckeye fan with a beer can at point blank range. Sergeant Robb said what he saw surprised him.

“I wouldn't call this one a typical case, this appears to be more severe than what we're used to dealing with,” Robb said.

He also said, State College Police are working hard to locate the victim. The fraternity and the person who threw the beer can could be dealing with some big penalties in the near future Robb said. Police said, although they have yet to identify anyone on the video, they are confident.

“We will identify the person that threw the beer can,” Robb said.

WTAJ tried to talk with members of the fraternity, but they had no comment Tuesday.

Police said they will use freeze frames from the video and post them online, so that people can identify who they see. Police did this before with images from the State College ArtsFfestival riots, and said it was very successful.

Penn State officials said, “The University is saddened to see Penn State fans acting this way, and whether or not the video shows Penn State students, that behavior is not what the university stands for.”

State College Police are urging anyone who knows the victim, or the person who assaulted the Ohio State fan to contact them immediately.

This is not Penn State. These idiots must be punished. According to menofthescarletandgray.com, the owner of the video has been identified:
Gaetano Sacco, the Vice President of Pi Kappa Alpha, has been identified as the source of the YouTube video that sparked public outrage this week.

The YouTube account name of the user who uploaded the video was “crazysacc,” which is also the AOL Instant Messenger screen name of Pi Kappa Alpha Vice President Gaetano Sacco (junior-film).

Sacco was reached by cell phone but had no comment.

By last night, all of the videos posted on YouTube by “crazysacc” had been removed, and the account was canceled.

The State College Police Department is investigating the case, but Sgt. Keith Robb, the officer investigating the case, could not be reached for comment.

Hope you like being made an example of, Gaetano. Your self-incriminating idiocy might have just cost you a PSU film degree. How terribly ironic.

NFL Mock Draft 2008, Version 2

For those of you interested, I wrote a comprehensive mock draft on another site. I can't publish it here because the formatting will be weird and it will take up a lot of space. I updated Version 1, added analysis, and who else the team should/will consider. Check it out HERE.

Analyze This: Sports Fountainhead Statistics

**NOTE: This has nothing to do with sports.***

I found this awesome Google software (free, of course) that tracks all kinds of things for your web page. I placed it on this site around October 21st and got rid of the counter at the bottom of the page. The old counter counted every page view which can be misleading since it adds a view every time the page is reloaded. While the new counter can't be seen by the public, it can be seen by me (and E). It is pretty sweet. Since I added the new Google Analytics pack we have received almost 600 page views (444 unique visits). We average around 40 visits a day with a high of 77 so far.

The best feature by far is the Map Overlay. You can actually see where (continent, country, city) each and every visitor came from. Besides having visitors from 38 of the 51 possible U.S. states/regions (including Washington, D.C.), we have had visitors from Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Romania, and Estonia.

Back to the U.S. We seem to lack visitors from New England (excluding Massachusetts), and oddly enough, Delaware and West Virginia. I say that is odd because they are geographically close to the teams we talk most about. We also lack an audience in the Dakotas, Wyoming, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico. Obviously, Pennsylvania and Indiana are the most trafficked but California comes in 3rd with Ohio and New York tied for 4th.

Below I've placed a few images from the Google Analytics pack. Check them out! I wish I would have had this since this version of the site opened in August...


Each orange dot represents a city that has registered hits on Sports Fountainhead. It's hard to tell, but there is a giant dot over the northeastern U.S. Those are the hits from State College, PA (see it larger by clicking on it).



Here is a list of the Top 25 cities to visit Sports Fountainhead since October 21st, 2007.




Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Basketball?

It felt like just yesterday that the Spurs cheated their way to the NBA title, but apparently it's time for the new season to start. More attention should be paid to hockey (I'm currently missing the Pens game because there's still no basic cable in State College that carries Versus), but since television likes to cram it down our throats, and I'm a consumer whore, here we go!

Basketball is by far the most boring of the four major sports, but is still intriguing to me because it is the only one where I am not bound to local interests. There is no NBA team in Pittsburgh, and Penn State hoops is so beyond hopeless that seriously following them is a waste of time. The team I love more than any other is the Phoenix Suns, mainly because of their 2-time MVP at point guard, Steve Nash. He's a pale skinny Canadian guy, about my height, but skinnier, and he's one of the best basketball players in the world. Plus his name landed in a Nelly Furtado song, which really shows you've made it in this world. Behind Nash's fantastic passing (and shooting), the Suns are the highest scoring and most fun team to watch in the league, and that's why I like them.

In the playoffs against the big bully San Antonio Spurs last year, I feel they got jobbed 3 different times: In the Game 1 loss, Nash got a huge cut on his nose late in the game and had to sit out portions of the crucial final minutes of that game (Suns lose); in Game 3 Tim Donaghy was one of the officials (Suns lose); and in Game 4 thug Robert Horry bodychecked Nash into the scorer's table, and when Amare Stoudemire (team's 2nd best player) and uhhh, someone else ran off the bench to check on him, THEY got suspended for a game (Suns lose Game 5 without them. The Spurs then won Game 6 fair and square.

So since we now know the Suns are capable of beating the Spurs in the playoffs, we have to wait a few months to find out. Their first game is not until Thursday against Seattle (and Kevin Durant). I'll write something more about it then.

Poor Grady Little

He must really hate the Yankees/Joe Torre by now. First it was Aaron Boone. Now Joe Torre is taking his job.

New York, New York

Oh my Yankees. Things have been crazy for the past couple weeks in the Bronx. Hopefully order will soon be restored but in the meantime, here's my take on what has gone down.

As I had hoped/predicted, the new Yankee manager is another former catcher of Italian decent named Joe: Joe Girardi. To me, it seemed like the easy choice. I really don't know where everyone was getting off thinking Mattingly was the favorite in all of this. When Hank Steinbrenner said there was an inital favorite, I truly think he meant Girardi but the media took that favorite to be Mattingly. I love Mattingly, as does the rest of Yankee Nation but he is just not ready for the job. People were already giving Torre a tough time when he first came to manage and he already had some experience under his belt. Mattingly has been a staple on the bench the past few years serving as a bench and hitting coach but he's never been under that spotlight the Yankee manager gets (or any manager for that manner). He's a smart guy, no question about it, but how can he deal with all the additional crap that comes with being the Yankee manager.

Girardi just has the experience. He managed a bunch of rookies/guys that would be playing AA in any other organization to a very respectable 78-84 record in 2006, winning the NL Manager of the Year Award. The fact that he parted ways with the Marlins because he and upper management couldn't get along doesn't really bother me. He would not take the Yankee job if he felt that the management in New York would deal with him the same. He's a solid, knowledgeable who will be a great guy for the Yankees. He can deal with the New York media and is very likable. In the end, I'm not saying Mattingly isn't any of those things, it is just that Girardi already has some experience and proved he can be a high quality manager.

Now to the topic of A-Rod. What a moron. Scott Boras too. It's very classy to text message Yankee GM Brian Cashman to say that Rodriguez is opting out. It was even more classy to announce it during the Red Sox World Series clinching victory. When I sat back and thought about this, I originally thought 'hahaha Boston is getting overshadowed by some idiot ex-Yankee' but then realized 'wait, these idiots are stomping on the integrity of the game.' The integrity of the game outweighs my hatred of Boston in the end (which is quite significant). Him and Boras seriously could not wait a day or two extra to announce this? A-Rod already acted like a classless baby by refusing to even come to the table to negotiate with the Yankees. This obviously signifies that he had no intent whatsoever to return to New York and he should have just let it be known after the Yankees were ousted by Cleveland. Just get it over with. Good riddance.

Too fill in for him, the Yanks need to get another Red Sock (how do you say it singularly?), Mike Lowell. The ex-Yankee farmhand had a stellar season, and we need a new 3B. Perfect fit. Getting him to go to New York from Boston might be difficult but if we got Damon from there, we can get anyone that becomes a FA there. If Mariano leaves, I will be sad. Then I will remember we have Joba Chamberlain. They say they want to make him a starter. I say, no. He'd be as good as any closer in the league and the Yanks already have a plethora of youth pitching coming up through the ranks. Catcher might not be so easy. The Yankees need to resign Posada badly. He's coming off a career year and we don't get him, the second best FA catcher is Paul Lo Duca. Ouch.

In the end, it seems that things are finally starting to calm down in the Bronx...to a degree. Things could certainly pick up once the free agent market opens but for now, I'll enjoy this brief peace in baseball.

Patriots humor

Excerpts from DJ Gallo's Week 8 wrap on ESPN.com's Page 2...

17 -- The Patriots have now won all of their games by 17 points or more and have outscored opponents so far this season by an average of 41.3 to 15.9. And while we're dealing in decimals, Bill Belichick's internal body temperature has stayed at a consistent -273.15 degrees Celsius (or 0 degrees Kelvin, as the kids say), cooled by a dense block of ice where his soul used to be.

1 -- Leading 38-0 yesterday in the fourth quarter yesterday over Joe Gibbs' Redskins, the Patriots went for it on fourth-and-1. Later in the fourth quarter while leading 45-0, the Patriots went for it on fourth-and-2. That's why I think that the next time Bill Belichick steps out of his house, he is going to mowed down by one NASCAR.

Monday, October 29, 2007

A-Rod's New Destination

Now that A-Rod and Scott Boras have hit a new low (who knew that was possible with Boras), we can only look forward to where A-Rod will go. I believe the answer is simple.

San Francisco.

I'll give you a few simple answers as to why.

1) He'll probably only have to travel to the Bronx one or two more times in his career. A must for a schizophrenic like A-Rod.
2) San Francisco media? He won't have a thing to worry about there.
3) The scenery. I mean, A-Rod seems like a sentimental, sensitive kinda guy, right? I've been to San Fran. Some nice views.
4) Who else plays for them? He's a cocky guy and wants to be the toast of the town. No issues there. 49ers still suck.
5) He's in the NL West. The Rockies were a fluke. A guy like A-Rod in that division could change a heck of a lot.

and the main reason is...

6) San Francisco loves Barry Bonds. If a town can love Barry Bonds, they can love anybody.

Those things being said, A-Rod's bat in the lineup will certainly be missed...a lot. Everything else about him, not so much. I'd obviously rather have him on my team than not but oh well. He's an ass. Peace out A-Rod...and don't ever come back to the Bronx.

A-Rod out, Girardi in

A-Rod is a complete moron.

I <3 Joe Girardi.

Newsflash: Bill Belichick attended Ohio State.

Expect a lengthy post on Yankee happenings soon.

Speaking of no class...

This may be how many of Boston fans feel. And that is terribly sad.


The New England Patriots football organization has taken a dramatic turn within the last 6-12 months. Once seen as the epitome of a strong NFL -- great teamwork, player development, win with dignity and honor, etc. -- the Patriots are now the epitome of classless (Ohio State fans, I hear Belichick will be the keynote speaker at your graduation ceremonies this year). What started as taunting and childlike behavior from the players after they upset San Diego in the playoffs last year (remember how pissed L.T. was?) evolved into cheating and now running up the score. The only NFL fans that defend the Patriots are Patriot fans. The rest of this league is disgusted. What a turn of events.

During the 2001-2002 season when the Patriots began their "dynasty" they were the toast of the league. And again when they beat the Panthers and Eagles in back-to-back years to make it 3 Super Bowls in 4 years they were on top. The NFL didn't mind. In the age of free agency no team was really supposed to be this dominant. And they were doing it without big name players. They continued to let veterans walk. They didn't spend loads of money. They were a team under a genius of a coach.

This is all tainted now. I'm not speaking of your Super Bowls -- keep them; you earned them. But since January until now the team is a disgrace. There really is no need to address the stealing signals fiasco. Everyone knows what happened. But it seems that Belichick now has a chip on his shoulder. My question is, WHY? You were caught cheating! It's the fans fault? Its the other teams fault? It's the NFL's fault? No it is your fault (you Bill Belichick, you the New England Patriots). You don't deserve anything. There is absolutely no reason to steal signals. And there is certainly no reason to rub in inferior teams faces, as you have now done the last two weeks.

Being a Miami fan -- but more importantly, a football fan -- I was disgusted when Brady returned to the field two weeks ago to add another TD in a game that was already locked up. You were leading 42-0 at halftime. You ran a FAKE SPIKE PLAY at the end of the 2nd quarter to go up 42-0. Classless. Congratulations on destroying a team that probably couldn't beat Boston College right now. And now this week. What do you have against the Redskins? Against Joe Gibbs? Did they tip the league off that you were stealing the Jets signals? You were up 38-0 (and already ran your FAKE SPIKE PLAY) and went for it on 4th and 1 from the 7 in the 4th quarter? Did you ever hear of a field goal? Gostkowski not good enough for you? Might miss that FG from PAT range? 45-0. But, alas, you would out due yourself again. Fourth down later, you go for it...and score another TD. Final score: 52-7. Classless.

You cannot defend yourselves. It doesn't matter that Brady was no longer in the game. You were still throwing the ball. You were up by 5+ TDs. Run the ball. Run, run, run! I don't want to hear that sad excuse that these are professionals, either. And that they were just doing what an offense is supposed to do. Well all humans are supposed to possess humility and some dignity. Well you obviously don't. We understand how good you are. No need to humiliate a team. When you lead a team by more than 28 points in the 4th, your done. No more scoring. No more starters. If, with your backups, you continue to drive down the field running the ball then fine. But don't throw. Never throw.

Am I a little bitter? Yes. A little jealous? Of course. Who wouldn't want an all but perfect (talent wise, that is) team. The Super Bowl is almost a given. Beat Indy this weekend and the Lombardi is yours. As a football fan I will be cheering hard for the Colts (and I HATE Peyton Manning so this will be hard to do). There was an article published on ESPN's Page 2 recently about good and evil, Colts vs Patriots. I though it was a little far-fetched but possibly true. Now there is no doubt in my mind.


The transition of the Patriots from the second coming of America's Team to the epitome of classless and evil was a quick one. I can only hope that the Colts run the score up on you.

END RANT

GO COLTS!

Ohio State has no class

While this may not be a surprise to anyone (especially those Michigan and Penn State fans that have made the unfortunate trip through hell known as Columbus, OH), Ohio State fans have sunken to a new low.

Ohio State fans destroy the 'Paternoville 2007' sign placed outside of Gate A at Beaver Stadium. The graffiti reads "Border War, Go Bucks, #1" with Paternoville crossed out. Penn State fans react by taping a makeshift 'Got Class?' sign.

Was this really necessary? Paternoville officially started the week before the Penn State-Ohio State game in 2005. This was somewhat of a 2 year anniversary of the tradition that will more than likely continue for years to come. Previous versions of the Paternoville sign were autographed by players and coaches -- including JoePa -- and auctioned off...FOR CHARITY. I guess that won't be happening this year, huh?

As if Penn State needed another reason to hate Ohio State (on a side note, drop the fucking pretentious emphasis on the 'THE' when you speak about OSU. You're just the Ohio State University. Not THE Ohio State University. Assholes.) Ohio State fans are continually the rudest of fans, both on the road and at the Horseshoe. There have been numerous counts of rude, obnoxious, and downright disgusting behavior from the Buckeye faithful (Buckeye, great mascot).

Does this all together surprise me? No. Buckeyes, in general, are assholes.

Boston wins the World Series

Yawn.

The last mention of the OSU/PSU game on this blog...

We've now heard 3 opinions of the carnage from Saturday night. Here's my theory, I promise I'll keep it brief.

This week, all the focus was on the 2005 game, when we had one of the loudest crowds ever and Penn State upset Ohio State. The problem was, people thought that the reason PSU won that game was because of the crowd. While I'm glad to take credit and we certainly didn't hurt their cause, the players on the field were the main reason we won that game. The defense played with heart and passion and aggressiveness, and the offense did the same, not making any mistakes and pulling out the big plays when they needed against an equally potent Buckeye D.

So this week, everyone talked about how PSU had the chance to pull an upset based off the crowd noise. I personally think that the players may have heard all this and relied on the crowd too much to provide the adrenaline. It seemed like the players, especially on defense, lacked much passion throughout the game. If you show up without the desired intensity needed to win a football game, a bunch of noise aint gonna give it to you. It'll just give you a headache.

I agree with Tom, the offense really didn't execute that badly, but when you only have the ball for 22 minutes there's really not much that can be done in terms of yards or points. That's true especially with the PSU offense which has never been described as explosive. The punt from the 38, not to mention the FG down 17, were both chicken **** calls that could have changed the outcome of the game, or at least delayed it a bit.

That said, OSU deserves all the congrats. They came in and smacked us around and proved why they're #1. I'll go ahead and say that I'd kind of like to see them win out and get the BCS title and prove all the Big Ten critics this year wrong.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A defense, my country for a defense

Okay, folks, calm down. We're acting like we just saw Minnesota come in and steamroll us. (Somewhere in Minneapolis, I think Tim Brewster just had a wet dream.) Let me remind you that we just lost to the (proven) #1 team in the United States. I think we've been making it sound like that's somewhat of an easy thing to do. Well, maybe this year it is. Was this game winnable? Probably. But haven't we been hitting the bowl of Kool-Aid a little too hard? Probably.

Yes, we lost 37-17. Yes, it got ugly quickly.

But from the start I was surprised at how easily both teams got on the board. 7-3 with over 10 minutes left in the first quarter? This is a game where everyone in America thought it would be first to 10 wins. But in the dark reaches of this game, how about a little respect for our offense? Morelli and the O lived up to my prediction of an INT and a fumble (Boeckman was just one pick away from convincing me to open up my own 1-900 psychic line), but I was pleasantly surprised the way Kinlaw and Royster had some fairly impressive runs against the #1 defense in the nation. Did you see a quarterback in a blue jersey control an offense that put together a 78-yard opening drive? Who was that masked man?!

Some of you might frown on me, but I prefer to look at the glass half full in this case. Game after game we've been lamenting about our lack of an offense. I think anyone who predicted us putting up 17 on OSU was being generous. For once, it was the defense that didn't show up! I think a defensive problem is way more fixable than an offensive problem. I have much more faith in Tom Bradley than I do in Galen Hall and Jay Paterno.

The one thing I absolutely got sick to my stomach about -- besides that horrendous pick -- was the lack of aggressive play calling, especially not going for the 4th and 2 on the OSU 38 as the clock winded down in the first half. A perfectly executed drive would've run the clock down to just about 30-45 seconds, a touchdown, sending PSU into the half down 17-14 and with possession to start the second half. All the mojo we worked up in the first quarter was gone. OSU was wearing down the D. We were within striking range of making this a game again. We were in desperate need of a momentum shift. Remember the 4th and 1 we converted against OSU in 2005? But what does the staff do? Wave the white flag and punt.

In fact, Boone punts it into the end zone and we put them on their 20. Brilliant! After imploring my friends as to how the staff could give up such an opportunity, they said "we can't stop their offense!" So what? If we can't stop their offense, what's it matter if they're on the 38 or the 20?! If we can't stop them, an extra 18 yards won't stand in their way. I thought it showed a lack of spirit and aggressive attitude.

I won't lament over the lack of defense last night, because it looks like my colleagues have already ripped into them enough. All I'm gonna say is if Justin King thinks he has a great shot at the NFL, he's probably dreaming now. Yeah, he had a good 2006 campaign, but man, he's gotten smoked this year. He says it's none of his doing, that the WRs they're putting him up against are just that athletic. Well, guess what, Sherlock? They're like that in the NFL, too. And better. If you're getting smoked now, just wait til the pros. King and Lydell Sergeant were frequently mocked by Boeckman and his receiving corps.

And damn, that Buckeye O-line is solid.

But look, Tom Bradley's the man, and I have to have faith he'll start to resolve some of these issues. He'll have a much more difficult time retooling the secondary, but I think we'll rattle off three wins to finish the season and then land, once again, in Tampa for the Outback Bowl. I think it's a little rash to suggest we're headed for the Champs Sports Bowl. OSU will go to the BCS, Michigan will go to the Capital One Bowl, and we'll feast on Bloomin' Onions in Tampa. Keep in mind that Illinois still plays OSU and Wisconsin has Michigan and OSU to finish the year. There's no doubt in my mind that if we win out, we'll be playing in another New Year's Day bowl.

And then we'll lay the lumber on an SEC team and we'll be mixing up more batches of Kool-Aid for 2008.

Bad weekend gets worse

New coach, same problem for Tottenham. I get to watch the Hotspur very infrequently (mainly because I don't like waking up at 8am on weekends) but I was watching them today. They had a 1-0 lead until about the 70th minute and then gave up a ridiculously sick strike from a Blackburn forward. That wasn't the worst of it as the inevitably choked again. In injury time, they slacked off again and gave up another late game winner, falling once again at White Hart Lane to a team with far, far less talent.

The sports world is falling around me...Devils not looking good (but they have a sweet new arena), Jets suck, Scarlet Knights suck, Nittany Lions are embarrassing, Hotspur are more embarrassing, and there's still a mess that needs to be fixed in the Bronx.


Go Hornets!!

Champs Sports Bowl, Anyone?

I, like others, was somewhat hopeful of an at-large BCS bowl big heading into the game tonight. After all, we would have a defeat over a #1 team on our resume and assuming we would win out, 10-2 would be pretty solid. Now, it's going to be rough to even get back to the Outback Bowl. I don't even know where to begin about tonight.

Joey was right on with the defense. I and the fans around me were continually baffled at what the defense was doing. The lack of blitzes really killed us and I believe that started a bad chain reaction with the rest of our defense. I mean, we didn't even try to put extra pressure on their passing game. That led to the the secondary playing very poorly, as Boeckman had years to throw. Terrible performances by King and especially Lydell Sargeant really doomed us but our lack of pressure on Boeckman probably had something to do with that. Regardless, they still looked lost half the time. Not only that but we couldn't contain the Buckeye running game whatsoever. The D-line just got completely owned and the Buckeyes probably could have picked a play out of a hat and had success with it. We really should have called some DB blitzes to mix things up but we all know how conservative our play calling can be on both sides of the ball.

The 7-10 yard TE passes were ruining us too. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me 9078234987 times...do we even try on defense? OSU burned us so much on simple patterns with the TE coming across the middle. When that happens, stick a LB on him or something! Make adjustments!! Just have him covered. On offense, we were ok. Kinlaw looked very solid but again, Galen Hall refused to really open up the playbook. Derrick Williams and Deon Butler combined for an embarrassing 3 receptions and 14 yards. We have playmakers for a reason. Get the ball in their hands. Yes, Morelli had less than stellar numbers but I felt that he managed the game fairly well outside of his retarded INT (which of course ended up being the ultimate back breaker). One way or the other, the defense just couldn't make a stop when they needed one and PSU couldn't convert on 3rd down when they needed to. Put those together and you get a loss.

However, when all is said and done, I believe D-Coordinator Tom Bradley is the goat for this game, but the entire starting defense is a close second. The schemes Bradley called were pathetic and utterly ineffective. Yes, the players have to execute (and they normally didn't which was definitely a major part of the problem) but Bradley put them in really crappy situations right off the bat. There's only so much you can do. I mean, Ohio State never even punted the ball. It looked like Bradley never even looked at a tape of OSU's offense. PUT PRESSURE ON BOECKMAN! Did he not see the two picks MSU returned for TDs against him last week? Just another frustrating loss. If only adjustments could have at least been made at halftime. I ranked OSU #1 after USC lost to Stanford and they've at least certainly backed me up. They were easily the better team on the field and they were the better team by a wide margin.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

What a Pathetic Showing

Wow. Just wow.

Ohio State dominated Penn State tonight to the tune of 37-17 in Happy Valley. It is only Penn State's 2nd lost at home in their last 20 games (last was Michigan on 10/14/2006). The effort put forth by the Nittany Lions was nothing short of PATHETIC. They looked like they may have came to play holding OSU to a field goal and then driving down the field to answer with a TD to make the score 7-3. They would only lead for about 5 minutes. Anthony Morelli was his unspectacular, mediocre self, going 12 of 21 for 121 yards and - of course - 1 INT.

My biggest complaint has to be about the defense. The play calling was terrible. The team looked unprepared. That falls directly on coaching. This was not Tom Bradley's best game. But the players didn't accomplish what they could control. Missed tackles, blown coverages, bad angles, etc. What were they doing?

I am really tired of commentators and "experts" referring to Justin King as a shut down corner. HE IS NOT. Stop complimenting him. Maybe when he accomplishes something worthwhile we can praise him. But what has he done? Really? Nothing. Oh, wow, he shut down Ted Ginn, Jr. last year. Ted Ginn is/was overrated. He is a return specialist. He was only a receiver because he was fast. Ginn runs terrible routes. Congratulations shutting someone down that has average hands and is a sub par WR. King should not leave PSU early for the draft. This game, much like last weeks disaster against James Hardy, proved that King has a ways to go. I don't want to hear excuses about zone coverage. It is still your area. Take control of it. Besides, versus Robiskie tonight, King was man-to-man and still got burned. Make a play! How about an INT?

I don;'t want to just pick on King. The entire defense was lackluster. Connor and Lee were continually out of position and didn't make plays. Sargeant was being burned by OSU's Small. Scirrotto was nowhere to be seen. Where was the rush from Maurice Evans and Josh Gaines? The defense made Todd Boeckman look like a good QB (he's not, FYI).

All in all an effortless, heartless attempt at taking down the nation's #1 team. Much like the games versus Michigan and Illinois. Although this time it's the D - not Morelli - that takes the blame. Good luck next week. You may need it.

Penn State aims to remain 'Linebacker U'

Penn State has long be known for recruiting, training, and producing not only top-notch college linebackers, but NFL-caliber ones as well. Some of the talent that once called Happy Valley home include Jack Ham, Dennis Onkotz, Greg Buttle, Shane Conlan, Andre Collins, Brian Gelzheiser, LaVar Arrington, Brandon Short, and more recently Paul Posluszny and Dan Connor. Ham and Onkontz are in the College Football Hall of Fame, Buttle holds Penn State's single season record for most tackles (165 in 1974), Conlan was a first team All-American twice, Arrington was the 1999 Dick Butkus Award winner, and Short was a four year starter (three at LB). Posluszny is currently Penn State's all-time leader in tackles with 372. He was a 2nd round draft pick in 2007 (34th overall, Buffalo Bills). Posluszny won't hold the career tackles record for long. Connor is currently at 350 tackles and still has five games remaining in his senior season. Barring injury, he will break Posluszny's record. Waiting in the wings of Connor is junior Sean Lee. Lee, like many of the aforementioned players, was impressive enough as a true freshman to warrant game action. He became a starter last year and has helped anchor the defense, along with Connor, this year.


There was a slight lull in the linebacker performance from 2000 through 2003. During those four seasons a linebacker lead Penn State in tackles only once (Gino Capone, 2003). Penn State's record over those four seasons: 22-26 (14-18 in the Big Ten) and only one bowl appearance ('02-'03 season Capital One Bowl). Not to completely point the finger at the linebackers; those teams had little talent anywhere. But when the Nittany Lions have a stud (or two, or three) at LB, they tend to play much better.


Paul Posluszny was the renaissance man. He brought the luster back to 'Linebacker U' and it has continued since he took over for the injured Capone in the fall of 2003. Penn State continues to recruit star high school linebackers, something that bodes well for the program. Connor joined the squad in 2004 and Lee in 2005. Last year they welcomed Navorro Bowman and Bani Gbadyu, ranked the 22nd and 49th best LBs, respectively, by scout.com. Each redshirted last year. The recruiting class of 2007 welcomed the 4th, 7th, and 8th best linebackers (Chris Colasanti, Andrew Dailey, and Nathan Stupar). As of this writing, Penn State has already received verbal commitments from Michael Zordich (7th best LB on scout.com)), Mike Yancich (10th), and Michael Mauti (11th). In addition, Rivals.com and ESPN.com report that the Nittany Lions have a verbal from LB Brandon Beachum (4th best inside LB on Rivals.com). I think it is safe to say that, if these players perform to their perceived potential, Penn State will continue to be known as 'Linebacker U'.






Linebacker U picture from Rivals.com

Stats from gopsusports.com

Lee Corso

Plays with cabbage patch dolls.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Reason behind 16-7

I made a prediction for the score of the game, so I figure that I might as well back it up.

I only really see both teams scoring one TD. The PSU defense will have that typical one drive where they give up the big plays which will result in a Chris Wells scamper for a TD. Other than that, I really don't see OSU scoring other than that unless it comes via a Morelli INT (which is entirely possible).

The crowd will give OSU tons of problems. You always hear how it's tough to be #1 because you have a bullseye on your back. Well in Happy Valley, that bullseye will be magnified x1000. Even I feel even more excited/motivated to scream the whole time OSU is on offense than last time they came into town. OSU players explained how the field literally shook when they were on the field for offense in 2005. I don't care how cool and composed you are, that's gotta be pretty damn intimidating. Boeckman has been incredibly shaky at times and I find it hard to believe he'll be able to move the offense very far in such a difficult playing environment. It's really going to come down to Wells running the ball. That being said, OSU will struggle to make first downs, resulting in a field position battle which Penn State should win. Penn State will be able to get into Kevin Kelly's range a few times and I see him coming through with 3 FGs.

While Morelli frightens me as our QB, I think he's finally started to get his stuff together. I know he'll try even harder than usual because he knows how badly he screwed us over at the Horseshoe last year. I think he'll throw a 1-2 picks, but I see it more as a result of bad routes/good defense than Morelli making an error. Hopefully Kinlaw can establish somewhat of a running game so Morelli will have an easier time throwing the ball.

Let's Go State.

I guess I need an OSU/PSU prediction

Geez, I don't know. 2 years ago, we were 5-0, coming off a blowout of then ranked (hard to believe) Minnesota, and were about as confident as a team could be. This year after squeaking by Indiana I can't imagine we're that confident. But then again we crushed Wisconsin in the last home game. And the Buckeyes are nowhere near as good as they were two years ago.....so this is a tough call. Everything this week is so eerily reminiscent of 2005...College Gameday, crappy weather, people camping who think they're better than everyone else.

Anyways, my prediction is....overtime. And if JoePa has things he hasn't achieved in his career, then he has to achieve them sometime in his career, right? He has never beaten #1 at Beaver? That has to change Saturday night. The game will reach overtime tied at 10, and nobody will be able to score touchdowns. The game will come down to who misses the field goal first. And though I know nothing about OSU's kicker, Kevin Kelly has been better this year (save the missed XP last week) and won't let us down like he almost did in the Orange Bowl. Penn State 22, Ohio State 19, in 4 overtimes.

Ohio State vs Penn State Prediction Wrap Up

As a quick overview of the fantastic, well-written posts on the upcoming (1) Ohio State/(25) Penn State matchup (Saturday, 8pm, ABC)...

Predictions
J Mays - Ohio State, 13-10
TAS - Penn State, 13-10
E - Penn State, 16-7
Steely McDonati - Penn State, 22-19, 4 OTs





GO STATE! BEAT THE BUCKEYES!!!


Bye, bye Jol

I promised I would write a little bit about soccer and I was able to do it by varying one of my last post titles by one letter. Unfortunately, it's for the same reason. Martin Jol, coach of the Tottenham Hotspur (of the English Premier League) has resigned as manager of the team. It was a move many had been anticipating for days as the Spurs have been downright pathetic and embarrassing so far this year. To date in the EPL, the Spurs have had only 1 win in ten games, putting them at 18th out of 20. A far cry from the top 4 finish that many people were predicting this year. For those that don't know, a top 4 finish would put a team in the UEFA Champions League for the following year while a finish anywhere from 18th-20th puts you in the league below. A good analogy would be the Pirates would probably be a AAA team right now if the MLB used this system. Anyways, this past summer, the team from North London went out and spent a pretty penny on plenty of new, young talent. So far, it hasn't really worked out. Their defense has been shaky at the worst possible times and they just can't put together a full game. They've almost had some impressive wins (particularly against Liverpool) only to choke them away to draws in the closing minutes. While Jol had some success in London, his time was unfortunately up. His players just weren't responding to him and a change was needed. He was a great guy and I wish him success in the future but here's to hoping my Spurs can put together a nice string of wins. They certainly have the talent to do it.

Football Sidebar: Penn State 16 Ohio State 7 ... Go Kevin Kelly ... write it down

Thursday, October 25, 2007

By the Numbers: JoePa vs. Top 25

Seriously, I was born to be an ESPN intern.

Overall, Penn State is 4-9 vs. top-ranked teams in its storied history. Joe Paterno is 4-7 vs. #1 teams, and all of those wins were either on the road (at Pitt and ND) or in bowl games (Georgia and Miami-FL). Only one top-ranked team has visited Happy Valley ever in 122 years of football in State College -- ND in 1989. We lost that game, so JoePa -- and Penn State -- are 0-1 vs. #1 teams at home. So, this matchup Saturday against Ohio State is something special.

The stats on JoePa vs. the top 25:

Since joining the Big Ten (1993-present)

vs. #1 teams

  • 0-0 home
  • 0-2 away/neutral
  • 0-2 overall
vs. top 5
  • 1-5 home
  • 1-6 away/neutral
  • 2-11 overall
vs. top 10
  • 3-7 home
  • 3-8 away/neutral
  • 6-15 overall
vs. top 25
  • 15-10 home
  • 16-25 away/neutral
  • 31-35 overall
As an independent (1966-1992)

vs. #1 teams
  • 0-1 home
  • 4-4 away/neutral
  • 4-5 overall
vs. top 5
  • 7-6 home
  • 5-14 away/neutral
  • 12-20 overall
vs. top 10
  • 10-8 home
  • 14-19 away/neutral
  • 24-27 overall
vs. top 25
  • 17-12 home
  • 28-28-1 away/neutral
  • 45-40-1 overall
So, over his entire career, JoePa is 4-7 against #1 teams, 14-31 vs. the top 5, 30-42 vs. the top 10, and 76-75-1 vs. top 25.

It's funny how it seems like we played way more ranked teams away from home as an independent.

Things have slipped a bit since 1993. Although, we're still close to .500 against the top 25 since joining the Big Eleven. Still, JoePa hasn't beaten a #1 since 1990 in South Bend. But I think the home field advantage, especially in our independent years, is striking.

My fearless prediction, you ask? I really think it's anyone's guess. I'm serious. I think it depends on a lot of different factors, and they're really not stuff we haven't discussed before:
  • How will Todd Boeckman and the Buckeyes' offense handle the deafening crowd? This Buckeyes squad is much like the 2005 squad that rolled into Beaver Stadium. Fairly untested (the '05 squad had a lost to Texas in The 'Shoe by then) and haven't encountered an environment quite like this. Look for them to take a little time to get adjusted. This one will stay close into halftime, if not well into the fourth.
  • Penn State needs to limit turnovers. How many times have we said that the last few years? The turnovers have been the kiss of death for the Lions. Morelli has to have a career day and needs to make the big plays. The receivers need to step it up and really make some big gains. Which brings us to...
  • JoePa and the coaching staff needs to get creative. Running Kinlaw and Royster up the middle a lot is not going to move the chains at all. OSU will force Morelli to pass, and he has to limit the interceptions. Both Morelli and his running backs need to protect the football if JoePa decides to go conservative (wait, what do I mean "if"?!).
  • I think our D will handle Wells nicely, much like they took care of P.J. Hill at home two weeks ago. The defense, coupled with the raucous atmosphere, is what will carry Penn State in this game.
The end result? I already said this game is going to be close well into the fourth, only because I think it'll take OSU quite a bit of time to adjust to the atmosphere, if nothing else. The game starts with a few three-and-outs before things start to get rolling -- Penn State's O usually doesn't kick it into gear until the second anyway. It mainly depends which Anthony Morelli shows up and which receivers show up. D-Will needs to make people remember why he was the #1 recruit in the nation.

Obviously, defense will control this one, especially with showers lingering in the area. The field will be covered during the day and the rain may abate before kickoff. Each team will have two turnovers. Boeckman will throw two picks, Morelli tacks on a pick, and the Lions put one on the turf. As nervous as I am making a score call, I'll do it. I say Penn State escapes 13-10 in a classic slugfest. The Lions showed two weeks ago against Wisconsin that they're finally capable of winning the big games. But if we see Morelli revert back into the unsure, unaware QB that Penn State fans have been accustomed to booing, my prediction goes right out the window. But you have to think these guys are gonna be fired up.

Go State! Beat the Buckeyes!

By the Numbers: PSU vs. OSU

When I get home today, I have a nice spreadsheet worked out detailing Joe Paterno's career against #1 ranked teams that I'll post for your viewing pleasure. It has some slightly surprising and not-so-surprising numbers on there, so we'll break that down when we get to it.

But anyway, let's take a look at the series that is Penn State vs. Ohio State. According to a nice e-mail I got this week from the Blue and White Society, the PSU-OSU series is tied at 11-11, but what's more, the total points scored by each team in those 22 games differs only by 11 points. Crazy!

Ohio State has not enjoyed much success in Happy Valley under Jim Tressel. The Buckeyes are 1-2 at Beaver Stadium since Tressel's arrival, losing in 2001 (29-27) and 2005 (17-10), and winning in 2003 (21-20). Even their win in 2003 wasn't all that impressive, as they were ranked #6 coming into State College (sound familiar?), only to fall behind 17-7 and squeak out a 1-point victory over a Nittany Lions squad that finished the season 3-9. So even when Penn State wasn't that great, they still gave Tressel a serious run for their money.

Meanwhile, Tressel is 3-0 against the Lions at The Horseshoe, with wins in 2002 (13-7), 2004 (21-10) and 2006 (28-6). Keep in mind that OSU was #1 in 2006, and that score really underscores how close that game was. The Lions led at the half, 3-0, trailing deep into the fourth only 14-6, only to have two consecutive picks of Anthony Morelli taken back for six points.

So, JoePa's really given Jim Tressel some headaches during his time with the Buckeyes.

Tressel holds a 4-2 edge over JoePa, and Joe has an all-time record of 7-11 against the Buckeyes, with a 5-9 record since joining the Big Ten. However, JoePa is 5-3 against Ohio State at Beaver Stadium, which improves to 5-2 since 1993.

Basically, JoePa and the Lions should feel lucky this game's at home.

This clearly doesn't take into account the fan base at Beaver Stadium, which has clearly becoming exponentially more raucous in recent years. The energy on this campus is palpable.

Obviously, this is no forecast for a Penn State win on Saturday. No amount of history can influence the play of current teams on the field.

World Series "Preview"

Well, I was in the middle of drafting a complete World Series preview, with position breakdowns and stuff, but couldn't get it finished in time for Game 1 last night. Now, after watching the Red Sox put a hot carl on the Rockies last night, I'm afraid that preview may be a little biased. So there's not much to be said about last night's dominating performance, except for that it doesn't mean the series is over. Some examples from the past:

2004 ALCS: Yankees win Game 3 19-8, Red Sox win next 4.
2001 World Series: D-backs win games 9-1 and 15-2, but Yankees were one half inning away from taking the series.
1996 World Series: Braves win first two at Yankee Stadium by scores of 12-1 and 4-0, Yankees win next 4. May be hard to believe now, but Yankees were then the upstart young team and the Braves were the annoying dynasty.
1960 World Series: Yankees beat the Pirates by scores of 16-3, 10-0, and 12-0; Pirates win the series on Bill Mazeroski's home run in Game 7.

Now I realize all of the above examples involve the Yankees, but the moral can be still be inferred: One lopsided win does not equal four. The Rockies will have a chance to make last night's blowout ancient history tonight.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Mistake-free Morelli a must versus Ohio State

This weekend Penn State QB Anthony Morelli may be facing the biggest game of his Penn State career when the Nittany Lions (25 AP/22 USA Today) battle Ohio State (1 AP/USA Today) in Happy Valley (8pm, ABC). During last weeks win versus Indiana, Morelli went 22 of 32 with 2 TDs and 1 INT. While he played well enough to lead the team to a win, he must play better against the Buckeyes. Against Indiana, ranked 62nd in total defense and 64th in pass defense, Morelli wasn't able to challenge them deep. Of the few passes attempted over 15 yards, one was hung in the air and was overthrown resulting in his lone INT. Penn State's offensive game plan continually featured WR screens and quick hits that Indiana never picked up on. That won't be the case against Ohio State. The Buckeyes enter their 9th game of the year with the best statistical defense in the league. They rank 1st in both total defense (208 yards/game) and scoring defense (8 points/game) and 2nd in rushing defense (62 yards/game; 1 TD) and passing defense (146 yards/game; 3 TDs).

Ohio State is probably one of the least hyped #1's in recent memory. Some of the nation believes they got there based on reputation and the fact that everyone in front of them lost, not because of how good they are. Looking at Jeff Sagarin's College Football Ratings, Ohio State may be overrated. Ohio State comes in at #3 in the Sagarin ranking format (behind LSU and Kansas) and one of the biggest reasons for this ranking and for national skepticism is their strength of schedule. Sagarin has the Big Ten as the 6th best conference in 2007. Ohio State's strength of schedule (which includes all 242 teams in both subdivisions) is 71st. They have not played any of the teams in Sagarin's current Top 30 (for reference, LSU has played 5 and they are 4-1 against them). But statistics and rankings can only tell you so much. It's not entirely OSU's fault that they have a perceived easy schedule (outside of the nonconference games). The game versus PSU this weekend will serve as a litmus test for both teams. In my opinion, Ohio State is better than people believe. But by the end of the year they will not be #1. But I digress...

The senior QB has been unspectacular and inconsistent in his 21 career starts. While he has a winning record (15-6) as a starter, 6 of those 15 wins are against sub par opponents (Akron, Youngstown State, and Temple in 2006 and Florida International, Notre Dame, and Buffalo this year). Morelli's shortcomings are quite evident and have been stated numerous times. He can't read defenses, he makes poor decisions, he is prone to fumbles and taking sacks (I know they are not always the QBs fault), and he buckles under pressure. These are quite obvious when considering these statistics:

  • 9/9/2006 at Notre Dame: 21 of 33, 189 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 1 sack, 76.5 QB Rating
  • 9/23/2006 at Ohio State: 16 of 25, 106 yards, 0 TDs, 3 INTs, 2 sacks, 33.5 QB Rating
  • 10/14/2006 vs Michigan: 11 of 18, 133 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs, 5 sacks, 83.8 QB Rating
  • 11/4/2006 at Wisconsin: 19 of 35, 165 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT, 4 sacks, 55.1 QB Rating
  • 9/22/2007 at Michigan: 15 of 31, 169 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs, 2 sacks, 65.1 QB Rating
  • 9/29/2007 at Illinois: 21 of 38, 298 yards, 1 TD, 3 INTs, 4 sacks, 56.7 QB Rating

Those were Penn State's most important games last year and so far this year. Penn State's record in those six games? 0-6. The Ohio State game in 2006 and the Illinois game this year, in my opinion, demonstrate and validate the notion that Morelli was overrated coming out of high school. In the Ohio State game, Penn State was down 14-6 to number one team in the nation with about 3 minutes remaining. The Nittany Lions were approaching midfield when the Buckeyes intercepted a horrendous Morelli pass and returned it for a score. On the next series Morelli did the same thing. Two 'Pick Sixes' within five passes. Final score 28-6 and ESPN's headline talks about how OSU dominated PSU the whole game. Yeah. An eight point lead with three minutes to go is really dominating.

This year at Illinois Morelli single-handedly lost the game for Penn State. I understand it is a team effort. But his erratic and stupefying play was the deciding factor. In the 4th quarter Penn State was inside the Illinois 25 on three separate occasions. All drives ended in a Morelli turnover (2 INTs and 1 fumble). Both interceptions happened in the end zone and the fumble occurred when Morelli scrambled for a first down on a fourth down play. Penn State loses 27-20.

Morelli was supposed to stabilize the QB position these past two years but he has only continued the tradition of fans and the media calling for the back up. It happened to Matt Senneca with Zack Mills, to Mills with Michael Robinson, to Robinson with Morelli, and now with Morelli for Daryll Clark or Pat Devlin, who's trail to Penn State is eerily similar to Morelli's.

For Penn State to have a chance against the Buckeyes, Morelli must have a spectacular game. He doesn't need to be Brian Brohm, Matt Ryan, or Andre Woodson. He must perform like Trent Dilfer did for the 2000 Baltimore Ravens. Play mistake free and make the smart pass during clutch situations. Let the running game and defense take care of the rest. This game is on Morelli's shoulders.

Prediction: Defense dominates for each team (surprised?) but Ohio State wins 13-10 in front of the raucous, white-clad fans in Beaver Stadium. Morelli throws 1 INT and is sacked three times. He does not perform well in the clutch.


Image taken from The Age of Reason


Statistics from the NCAA, ESPN, and Jeff Sagarin

Monday, October 22, 2007

As I was saying...

I've made a fool out of myself with some of my previous picks but this one will probably take the cake. I will continue to waste your time and neglect the rest of the crazy happenings in college football to focus on the MAC. My brash prediction is...Temple will play in the MAC title game. Hopefully you have finished laughing by now. Right now, Temple sits at 3-2 in their division, a half game back from the lead. Let's see why they will win it after analyzing the teams tied with/ahead of them:

*Records are MAC records

Miami (OH) (3-1): Temple just defeated this former leader of the East Division pretty handily this past weekend in Philadelphia. The RedHawks will do their best not to have players lose limbs against Vandy this weekend because they'll need to be charged and ready for their game against Buffalo the following week. Things don't get any easier with Akron the week after but they round out the season against a poor Ohio team.

Buffalo (3-1): The team Temple will have the most difficulty passing. Buffalo beat the crap out of Temple earlier in the year and even looked decent against Penn State. However, while the Bulls have beaten Temple, their other two MAC wins are against poor teams in Ohio and Toledo while their one loss came in a blowout to mediocre Ball State. Their schedule isn't very easy too the rest of the way. They have face Akron, @Miami (OH) and Bowling Green in their next three games. That won't be easy. They should win their finale against Kent State

Bowling Green (2-1): These guys have a shot at the division too. They have defeated Temple and Kent State but got blown out by Miami (OH). Go figure. Their remaining schedule isn't atrocious but they still have to travel to Buffalo and host Akron. EMU, Ohio and Toledo will try to play the upset roll.

Akron (2-1): Akron is toast. They have to travel to Buffalo, Bowling Green and Miami (OH). Hopefully they can play the spoiler in one of those games, propelling Temple to the MAC East Division Crown.

Temple (3-2): Temple probably has the easiest remaining schedule of this group. They travel to Ohio and Western Michigan while hosting Kent State. All of those games are very winnable, and they'll need to win all of them to have a chance at the division. I think they're up to the task. They have tons of coaches from PSU littering their entire staff and those guys know how to win. Now they have players that believe they can win. Having that down is half the battle.

Will Things Get Worse for Miami?

The only bright spot in Miami's dismal 0-7 start to the 2007 season was Ronnie Brown. Brown, the 2nd overall pick out of Auburn in the 2005 draft, was starting to use his massive potential. He rushed for over 100 yards in four straight games after rushing for less than 70 combined in his first two. He was well on his way to another 100 yard performance before leaving the game with an apparent knee injury. There are now reports that he will be done for the season. This is disastrous for a team that is still searching for its first win. The team is decimated with injuries, most notably on defense where DT Vonnie Holliday is week-to-week and Safeties Yeremiah Bell and Renaldo Hill are out for the season. Bell tore his Achilles in Week 1 and Hill tore an ACL in the Patriots game.

Ronnie's specific injury has not been released yet but, if it is to end his season, it is most likely a torn ACL as well. Journeyman Jesse Chatman will assume Brown's role. Chatman received tons of praise during the offseason and training camp from Cam Cameron and he performed well after Brown left the Patriots game. Now we will see if he can carry a team that is devoid of much talent at all.

This latest setback will only solidify Miami as the worst team in the NFL. It is more than likely that this team won't win more than 2 games this year (thank God they are in the AFC East) and could possibly, dare I say it, go 0-16. Talk about putrid. This team has so many needs one offseason and draft won't save them. They'll be lucky to win 5 games in 2008. A complete defensive overhaul is needed and the Dolphins won't be respectable again until 2009 at the earliest.

It has already been a long 5 years since the Dolphins last playoff birth (and subsequent early exit) in 2002. It may be another 5 until the team can even imagine playing past the 1st round. Speaking of 1st round, I expect this may be the most encouraging phrase in Miami right now:

"With the first pick in the 2008 NFL draft, the Miami Dolphins select..."



Left-Patriots players signal for the medical staff to tend to injured Dolphins RB Ronnie Brown.
Right-I hate to tell you, Jason, but it's going to get worse before it gets better. And that sucks.


Hoosier Daddy?

Just got back from the grand ol' state of Indiana. 24 total hours of driving, compared to an actual 36 on the ground, approximately 12 of them sleeping....so yeah, 24 driving hours for 24 conscious hours in Bloomington. Thankfully we were able to pull out a narrow 36-31 victory.

The Game:
Pundits will say that this game was too close and we should have won by more, and they may be right. But given the way we normally play on the road, and the fact that the Hoosiers aint half bad this year (they're still likely to become bowl eligible for the first time since '93), it was a huge win heading into the top ranked showdown with the Bucks next week. Indiana took the early lead, but our offense got into gear in the second quarter, leading 3 nice TD drives to take a 20-14 lead into half. In the second half our D got going, forcing 3 turnovers in the 3rd quarter, but our offense stalled in the red zone each time, settling for field goals. After cutting the lead to 29-24, the offense had possibly its best drive of the season, pounding it down the field and eating up clock, culminating in the TD to go up by 12. Kellen Lewis had a spectacular TD run to cut it to 5 again, but Indiana's last chance was stopped by an amazing 68 yard punt by Jeremy Boone to pin them inside their 5, and they would turn it over before threatening.

Morelli played his second straight good game, making only one dumb throw in the 1st half. Evan Royster had 68 yards on 12 carries and looked much more impressive than Kinlaw the whole game. Kevin Kelly made up for a missed XP in the 1st half with 3 FG's in the second half. The scoreboard says 31 for IU so people will think the defense had a bad game, but that wasn't really the case. QB Kellen Lewis and WR James Hardy are the real deal, both made great plays against our D and kept their team in the game throughout. That said, we still forced Lewis to fumble 4 times and caused Hardy to drop a couple, and the running game was shut down effectively. Most of their 68 total rushing yards came on the late game TD scramble by Lewis.

So kudos to the Hoosiers for showing up and making this game worth the price of admission, and to PSU for making it worth the trip. This college football season, any win in conference is a good win, especially on the road. Next week we will have Ohio State here in Beaver, in what will be the most difficult game of the season for both teams. The last time the Buckeyes lost a regular season game? If you guessed October 8, 2005 in Happy Valley, you're correct! Let's hope that date gets renewed next weekend.

The Atmosphere:
Total attendance at Memorial Stadium: 41,251. That about says it all. The stadium is about half the size of Beaver, and they still don't fill it. Maybe we're spoiled here, but the atmosphere seemed like a high school game. Traffic leading up to the stadium was non-existent, concession lines were fast and efficient, and you could walk around a bit! There was plenty of tailgating going on, which was encouraging. Our crowd of blue shirts got a few taunts and boos from IU fans, but most were polite. My favorite comment had to be after the game, some guy yelled at us, "We're gonna kick your ass in basketball!" to which our response was along the lines of "Yeah, your point?" This is clearly a basketball school, which is just bizarre to someone who's spent the last 4+ years at Penn State. Our hatred for Ohio State and Michigan is equivalent to their hatred of Purdue.

The Town/Campus:
Pretty campus, as you would expect. Architecture is very old school though, which is kinda creepy to be honest. The buildings look nice but I wouldn't want to go to class in them every day. The downtown area of Bloomington is extremely nice. Cultural food seems to be a big theme, as seemingly every restaurant had some kind of international theme. Again, great while visiting, but I think that would get annoying if I lived there and just wanted a freaking burger. Greek life seems to be pretty dominant if you're into that sort of thing. Contrary to stereotype, there is plenty of grass and trees around town, and yes even some terrain! Nothing like central PA obvi, but I was shocked to be walking up and down some gradual slopes throughout campus.

Overall Bloomington was a very good time, made better of course by the win. I'll go ahead and pull for their basketball team to win the Big Ten this year (provided Penn State doesn't do it HA!)

Elsewhere in sports, the Pens won two games this weekend, the Steelers lost a nailbiter in Denver, the Red Sox gave Cleveland people another reason to cry, and lots of other football was played.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Where are the Michigan Haters Now?

Hm, can we get a little love here in Ann Arbor? Yea we lost to Appy State and Oregon which gave plenty of reason for all those closet Michigan haters (and/or Ohio State lovers) to come out in their true colors. Since then, Michigan has won 6 straight including victories against Penn State, Purdue, and now Illinois. Yes, the same Illinois team that defeated Penn State and Wisconsin. Michigan went out there without Mike Hart. Chad Henne was playing with a shoulder and wrist injury. Yet we still won in a hostile environment against a pretty good Illinois football team.

Yesterday's win should have proven that Michigan's resurgence is legit...that our team has a lot of talent outside of Mike Hart (please do yourself a favor and don't call us the Mike Hart Wolverines anymore)...that our defense can handle the spread offense quite well now....and that with young studs like Ryan Mallett, Carlos Brown, and Donovan Warren, Michigan is not going to be falling anytime soon.

We'll be heading into November right in the thick of things to win the Big Ten. Sorry critics, guess your time isn't here yet.

Friday, October 19, 2007

I hope this shows up on the injury report...

If you haven't heard, USC had a rough landing in South Bend on Thursday evening. Apparently it was so scary that safety Taylor Mays was "screaming." But wait, it gets better: "Defensive end Lawrence Jackson said he was going to see the team trainer because a Popsicle stick pierced the inside of his mouth during the drop." I guess they don't teach you at USC that you probably shouldn't have sharp items in your mouth during a turbulent plane ride. In the paper it should read:

Probable-Lawrence Jackson (Popsicle Stick)

The only thing funnier than that would be a video on YouTube showing Taylor Mays.

Long Overdue

I apologize for my lack of blogging as of recent. Blame a hellish week of work and exams for that. I apologize in advance for the absence of frequent updates this weekend -- McDonati is in Bloomington with the Lions, and E and I are out of town. However, I attempt to make my penance with some more college football talk.

First off, did anyone hear about the near-disasterous landing the USC squad had in South Bend? Maybe God really is on the Irish side.

And how about Cinderella's glass slipper shattering last night?

Anyway, last week, the Nittany Lions handed the Wisconsin Badgers a huge, upper-case, bold-faced L, leaving fans scratching their heads for the third-straight week pleading, "Why didn't we do that against Michigan?!" It was a complete role reversal. Suddenly, it was Wisconsin turning over the ball and making silly mistakes and not JoePa's squad. The defense lived up to its end of the bargain once again, holding P.J. Hill to a season low. Man, for somebody who ran into this season with lots of preseason hype, not a lot of talk about him anymore, eh? Anthony Morelli finally looked like a veteran QB and if a play wasn't made, it didn't fall on him. Maybe JoePa was right about his WRs not stepping up and making plays after all... well, at least this week. Yes, Wisconsin was overrated (who called it?!), but this is still a huge win over a ranked team band a great confidence boost.

In a Buy or Sell update, UConn fell to Virginia 17-16 on the road last Saturday, validating my "sell" pick, unless they make an improbable Big East run. I'm now 7-3 on the season for Buy/Sell. Still waiting on Kentucky and Arizona State.

Alright, picks for this weekend.

Florida at Kentucky
Kentucky used up all its magic last week in a thrilling 3-OT victory over LSU last week. A win against Florida keeps them in the SEC East race, but a loss makes South Carolina/Florida the marquee match of the division. The Gators are coming off a 2-game skid and a valuable week of rest, and now they're seeing red. Look for the Wildcats to get chomped in another nailbiter.

LSU at Auburn
Recall that Auburn lost to Sly Croom and Mississippi State at home, 19-14. Also recall that LSU steamrolled M-State on the road 45-0 in the season opener. Yikes. So is the Auburn that lost to USF at home going to show up or the one that shocked Florida in The Swamp? Furthermore, consider that with USF out of the top two, LSU is still well into the thick of the national race. Don't think for a second Les Miles and the fans in Death Valley won't be pumped for this one. LSU takes care of Tommy Tuberville's Auburn team at home.

Tennessee at Alabama
Nick Saban and the Tide have been rolling after two straight losses, but keep in mind that they played Houston and Ole Miss. Tennessee is 1-2 on the road this season, beating M-State last week by 12, but losing to Cal and Kentucky by a combined 53 points. The Tide will roll at home, providing them great momentum into their home date with LSU next week.

Michigan at Illinois
Most people thought Penn State had the best home conference slate in the Big Ten, but my vote would go to Illinois. The Illini welcome their third-straight ranked opponent to Memorial Stadium Saturday, and will chalk up their third win over a ranked opponent at home.

Michigan State at Ohio State
Okay, enough fooling around. MSU had their obligatory win of the season. Time for them to start losing again. Well, okay, maybe that's harsh. MSU and OSU matchups have provided spark in the past, but with this one at home and with OSU's ridiculous defense, the Buckeyes should roll into Happy Valley still the top team in the land.

USC at Notre Dame
Ha! Oh, oops. Sorry. But really, if Booty's out for this one, it could sure get interesting if USC doesn't pull away early. Sharpley has been steadily improving, so it's on the Irish O-line and the defense to make sure this doesn't get ugly.

Texas Tech at Missouri
Missouri has to win this game by outscoring Graham Harrell and the Red Raider offense, because their defense isn't going to win this game for them. Can a defense ranked 100th in passing defense handle Harrell? This one could come down to who scores last, but I think Tech's slightly better defense gives them the edge in this one that ends up having a basketball score.

Buffalo at Syracuse
Bonus pick! This one's gonna be closer than anyone thought at the beginning of the season. Don't look now, but Buffalo's 3-4 and 3-1 in the MAC. Syracuse is a hot-and-cold squad that will shock you one week and disappoint you the next. The disappointments will hit a new low this weekend as Buffalo squeaks by the Orange. Turner Gill becomes the front runner to replace Bill Callahan at Nebraska.

Why Pittsburgh is better than the Bronx

Well, Joe Torre has just given a big juicy finger to Steinbrenner, and rightfully so. But why retire now? According to the Paterno logic, the guy has at least 10-15 years left in him. Maybe even more, the managers just sit on their ass in baseball and don't have to worry about Wisconsin players trying to break their legs. So when Torre turned down the Yankees' offer today, he had to have one place in mind: Pittsburgh.

Why Pittsburgh? Because the Pirates are a way better managing job than the Yankees. Here's why:

Ballpark: Of all the newer ballparks to come in the last 15 years, PNC is the best. It's quaint and it highlights the city well. It doesn't favor the pitcher or the hitter too incredibly much. If your team is down by 7 in the 8th inning, you can just stare at the skyline for a while. ARIBA! On the other hand, I've never been to Yankee Stadium, but it looks shitty on TV, and the area doesn't sound so succulent either.

Star Power: In New York, you sat in the shadow of Jeter, A-Rod, Clemens, Rivera, etc. You know, all those hot shots who actually play the game. On the Pirates you have Freddy Sanchez, Jason Bay, and...then you gotta thinking to name players. And I'm a fan! Joe would be the alpha dog in town.

Less Pressure from Management: Granted we're under new management now, but if Lloyd McClendon got 5 years on the job, Joe can plan his retirement in Pittsburgh. The pressure to win the World Series every single year won't exactly be there, since the last World Series victory was in 1979 and the last playoff appearance/winning season was in 1992. Let's put that in perspective. The NLCS this week was Rockies/Diamondbacks. Neither of those teams existed the last time the Pirates won the division. We would not get upset about a first round playoff exit, trust me.

Less Pressure from Media: Steelers training camp starts the last week of July. With the Penguins poised to make many deep playoff runs in the near future, they hopefully will be playing into June on a yearly basis. The Pirates get the top media coverage in this town about 1-4 months of the year, depending on how good the hockey is. Just make sure to buy a terrible towel and you'll be fine.

Less Pressure from Fans: Between the skyline, postgame fireworks, bobblehead giveaways, pierogi races, the weird crap they show on the scoreboards, and lots and lots of beer, there's a lot to keep the Pirates fan entertained if the game gets out of hand.

Italian Food: I personally recommend DiPietro's in West View. The fettucine carbonara is FANTASTIC.

Lower Cost of Living: Pretty self explanatory.

Good for Old People: I cant find any hard data right now, but Pittsburgh area has always been a haven for retirees.

There's Actually Potential: On a serious note, this team has a lot of potential. Every single guy on the roster displayed talent at one point or other during the season. The problem is, and has been, harnessing all this talent as a team and performing consistently. The management is new and hopefully won't make any more stupid personnel moves, so he'll have help in that regard. But if he's able to turn this team into a winner, his legacy as a great manager will be confirmed. It will no longer be because he had the big market resources of the Yankees (people forget they were an actual likable team in the late 90's, as opposed to the fantasy roster of today), it will be because he's a great manager. So come to Pittsburgh Joe. It might be the best move of your career.

P.S. I mentioned the fans and media being apathetic earlier. Deep down inside, we care. It just hurts so much that we play it off as indifference. But if Joe Torre were to make the Pirates relevant again, the fans would show up, and the media would give more coverage. The town would rally behind them just like we do for the Steelers or Penguins.

ROAD TRIP!!!

This weekend yours truly will be schlepping out to Bloomington, IN this weekend to catch the Nittany Lions take on the Indiana Hoosiers! Ok, so it's not the most captivating matchup on the boards this weekend, but given the way we play on the road, and Indiana being a little better than usual, it could be an interesting game. If we survive the severe weather outbreak on the way, I will be back on Monday with a full recap of the game and the town of Bloomington, Friday Night Tailgate style.

Responses/notes:

  • The main difference between Austin Scott and Scirotto, etc. was that for them it was a first time incident, while Austin has been a bad seed since he arrived on campus in 2003. JoePa has already given him numerous second chances, including the redshirt last year so he would be eligible this year. The rape charges are rightfully the last straw. Also, in this society rape is second to murder (and maybe dogfighting, I kid) on the totem pole of horrendous crimes. So that may also be a reason for the harsher reaction.
  • I addressed the letter to Mr. Torre after the Yankees lost to the Indians, and now that it is official he is not returning to New York I want him to know the offer is still there to come to Pittsburgh. I'll write more about this shortly.
  • Looks like the debate on whether to include South Florida in the BCS title game will end prematurely, as Rutgers pulled off their annual Upset a BCS Contender at Home tonight. That leaves the list of unbeatens at 5: Ohio State (plays at PSU and Michigan), Boston College (plays at VA Tech), Kansas (plays actual Big 12 teams), Arizona State (plays USC, Cal, Oregon, and don't forget Stanford!*), Hawaii (plays Boise State). Kids, there's a very good chance that no one will come out of this season undefeated. This season may be the biggest argument against the BCS yet, and for a playoff.

*ASU actually already played Stanford, and crushed them, like you would expect a BCS contender to do.

Mama's boys

In the NFL we see a lot of quarterbacks' mothers writing blogs and appearing in commercials. So, since college football players can't have agents yet, a few running backs have been taking a page from that book and have let their mom do the talking for them. Or, sometimes, mom just does the talking without consulting her son.

It started back in August when Darren McFadden's mom blabbed to the press that her son would be turning pro after his junior season at Arkansas.

"He told me [Friday], 'Mom, I'll be through in December,'" Mini Muhammed said. "I said, 'What you mean?' He said, 'I'll be through.' That's what he told me."

Asked if that meant her son would be entering the draft and joining the NFL, Muhammed said, "Yeah. He'll be making big money."
And then we had Austin Scott's mother, JoAnn, speak up when rumors circulated about her son's behavior that led to his suspension from the Penn State squad.
When asked earlier in the week about her son's removal from the team, JoAnn Scott said he returned home last weekend and that she believed the incident would "boil down to a misunderstanding."
We'll see about that.

As has been reported over the last few days, Michigan players have been saying they expect their teammate, Mike Hart, to be on the field in Champaign Saturday night when the Wolverines take on the Fighting Illini of Illinois. They cite his determination and his drive to win.

But when a player's hurt, who better to get a diagnosis from but from Dr. Mom? She spoke to the press yesterday about her son's status.

"No one will know until Saturday," Rory Rushlow said in a telephone interview Wednesday. "I just left Ann Arbor yesterday, and he says he's fine and if he's even 80 percent healthy he'll play.

"Hopefully, he'll play. But he if doesn't, I'm sure he'll play the next game against Minnesota."

I wonder what school she got her sports medicine degree from.

And then, of course, we all know about that letter from an "anonymous parent" sent to Colorado football coach Dan Hawkins, complaining about the level of team conditioning, that inspired Hawkins' infamous and much-parodied "It ain't intramurals!" rant. It may not have been a mother who wrote that letter, but it runs along the same wavelength.

Are these moms trying to prime themselves for a campaign to be the next Mama McNabb? Well, they or their sons can't really appear in Chunky soup commercials just yet, or get paid, or get reimbursed with gifts ... I mean, c'mon, they're not Reggie Bush.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Bye, bye Joe

I'll have something more elaborate on this later but I just wanted to say that I'm not surprised, especially after this being the 2nd year the Yankees have jerked his chain in the offseason. For all he's done, he doesn't deserve to be treated like that. He's the best manager this team has ever had, period. I know people are saying Mattingly is the heir apparent but I really hope the job goes to Joe Girardi. The guy has managed for one season, and won a coach of the year award. Currently he works up in the booth for the YES Network and would probably love the job. Plus, I feel like he's more manager material than Mattingly. Either way, I'm certain the job will go to one or the other. Either that or the Yankees pull a rabbit out of their hats and nab Bobby Valentine. Now that would be something...

Good luck with whatever you decide to do, Joe. Just make sure it doesn't involve Pittsburgh in any way :)

The Latest: Torre Turns Down Yankees, Out As Manager

Joe Torre turned down a one year deal from the Yankees and will not be returning as manager of the Evil Empire. The deal was reportedly worth a minimum of $5 million and could have escalated as high as $8 million. With Torre out, who will manage in NY? Mattingly? LaRussa? Bowa? Someone else? Crazy. I think this is ridiculous. Torre has done a lot for that organization. Was he the brightest coach that made the best baseball decisions? No, not always. But he got what he needed from his players.

Where will Torre go next, if anywhere? Will Steely McDonati's dream come true...could Joe be in Pittsburgh!?!?

I won't say much else about this. I'm sure E will have a large post on this later.


Austin Scott Saga

While I was as excited as the next person upon hearing that Austin Scott was never going to suit up for us again (due to his fumbling woes), I am beginning to believe his current suspension is unfair. Currently, we have two players (one being standout starting safety Anthony Scirrotto) being charged with felonies. Those two players have been playing all year without anything stopping them. If I remember correctly, the football team has said that it will put off judgment on what to do until a trial takes place. Why not give the same treatment to Scott? The charges against him (from what I've read) seem to be anything but a slam dunk. Remember what happened to the Duke Lacrosse team? This is beginning to sound eerily similar and would be all over the news if there were racial undertones to the story.

I understand that keeping Scott away from the team is probably for the better as he'd create a media circus. However, it is hypocritical and unfair for him to be suspended while other players awaiting trial on felony charges continue to play. I know that right now he is (supposedly) being suspended for breaking an undisclosed team rule which has been rumored to be going to a bar less than 48 hours before kickoff. However, had this alleged rape not happened, he probably would have been suspended for half a game, if that. JoePa and the football staff are just playing a game of politics with the situation as they are using it as an excuse to keep him away from the team. Yes, the felonies Scott is being charged with are far more repulsive than those against Scirrotto and Baker, but they are still charges yet to be proven in a court of law. I believe this country has some sort of saying "innocent until proven guilty?" Why don't we use it here? Ignoring it has already left Duke with black eye. Penn State will look just as stupid if these charges are thrown out or Scott is proven innocent.

BCS Fan Poll

I posted this a few weeks ago but wanted to do so again. There is a site called The BCS Fan Poll. Anyone is free to join and you vote for the Top 25 every week. After three weeks of voting you are eligible to apply for "official" status. If the other "official pollsters" agree that your poll looks honorable and unbiased than you will become "official" and your poll will count towards the BCS Fan Poll. The site's main objective is to grow large enough and gain enough pull to be included into the BCS calculation in determining who should play for the National Championship! The site continues to grow. If you find yourself saying that the national polls are inaccurate, join this site and voice your opinion. Go to The BCS Fan Poll.