Sunday, December 30, 2007

Alamo Bowl wrap

It's a final in San Antonio as the Nittany Lions of Penn State cap off a tumultuous season with a 24-17 victory over the Aggies of Texas A&M to finish the year 9-4. Penn State found themselves in an early 14-0 hole as ball handling woes plagued the offense yet again in the 1st quarter. Morelli eventually found Deon Butler in the end zone on a gutsy 4th down call and Darryl Clark gave the Lion offense a nice spark to send the teams into the locker room at 17-14 at the half -- a lead they never relinquished.

The offensive game really belonged to both squads' ground games, especially in the first half. Rodney Kinlaw capped off his career with 143 yards rushing and Evan Royster gave fans something to dream about for next year with 65 yards and a TD. For the Aggies, big man Jaworski Lane barreled down the field but it was Mike Goodson who ran in 2 TDs in 12 seconds to take the early advantage. Neither Anthony Morelli nor Stephen McGee really got a consistent game going, as Morelli often made bad throws and made his obligatory pick while McGee failed to convert a 4th and 1 inside the 3-yard line. The defenses controlled much of the second half with solid efforts from both teams.

What to love about this year's four-hour long commercial for San Antonio Alamo Bowl:

Joe Paterno: The man still knows how to make a football game entertaining all after these years. His facial expressions and reactions were classic JoePa, especially following Kelly's missed FG from 45 yards out. And that story about the '87 Fiesta Bowl? Awesome.

Darryl Clark
: Who would've thought Clark would get serious playing time tonight? Clark rushed 6 times to the tune of 50 yards and the game-tying TD in the 2nd quarter. Over 8 yards per carry on the night. What an outing for Clark on a night we expected to see the Penn State staff celebrate their maligned, graduating senior quarterback.

Evan Royster: Nittany Lion fans have to be excited at the prospect of what this offense might be next year, with the great potential Clark and Royster have shown. With the dismissal of Austin Scott, Royster saw some serious playing time this year, which will be indispensable for next year's campaign.

Sean Lee: It seemed to me that we heard Lee's name a lot more than Dan Connor's tonight, or maybe I just wasn't paying attention. I'll be the first to say it's sad to see Connor go, and it was fun to see him play his last game as a Nittany Lion, but make way for the new face of the Penn State linebacking corps.

Erin Andrews: The Alamo Bowl has the distinction of being the only bowl game at which Erin Andrews will work the sidelines. Nobody does better JoePa impressions, and certainly nobody else looks half as good doing them. (Although I have to call her out for wearing, as a friend who texted me during the game described it, "that sailor suit thingy.")

Things that weren't so great...

Commercials: Why in the world did this game last four hours? Halftime felt like an eternity and my wavering attention span couldn't help but to force me to flip around the channels a bit in the 3rd quarter.

Anthony Morelli: It wasn't that he was bad... it just that he was mediocre... again... in his 26th start for the Lions. The ESPN crew wondered all night why Clark wasn't in the game more often for Penn State. Good luck to him as he moves on, but I have to wonder if this offense might have a quick turn-around, much like it did following the graduation of Zack Mills.

Conference USA officials: Seriously? Actually, they did a pretty decent job.

Craig James: I dunno, I just don't like the guy. Maybe it all stems from that infamous "old fart" comment from last year, but I just don't really see what he brings to the table. I think Chris Fowler pretty much sums it up when follows up James' comments with, "Are you going somewhere with this?" Maybe it's just that he's a little full of himself, maybe it's because he still holds that grudge against JoePa, or maybe it was because he tried to upstage Erin Andrews with a JoePa impression of his own -- which, if you asked me, kinda paled in comparison.

Overall, an entertaining night for what some (especially a few Penn State bloggers) were expecting to be an evening of uninspired football. I really don't want to jump on the bandwagon too quickly, but I have to admit that I kind of like what I see.

(Of course, gotta follow up with a shameless plug: After a slow start in the bowl picks, guess who's gone 6-for-6 so far in weekend action? A Crimson Tide win tomorrow in the Independence Bowl makes it 7-for-7 in the three-day stretch.)

1 comment:

Steely McDonati said...

The consensus of my group was that Erin Andrews looked like an elf.