Preview: Penn State Comment Count

Brian October 17th, 2008 at 1:19 PM

The Essentials

Penn State Logo 2005

WHAT Michigan @ #3 Penn State
WHERE Beaver Stadium, State College PA
WHEN 4:30 EST, October 18th, 2008
THE LINE Penn State by 23.5.*
WHAT? Seriously.
SERIOUSLY? Yeah, man.
UGH. You said it.
TELEVISION Nationwide on ESPN

*(NCAA football lines courtesy BetUS sportsbook)

What do you do with a line that's 23.5? If Michigan was favored by 23.5 I'd half ass a preview. I think I'm going to do that when they're un-favored by 23.5, too. There's just not that much to say: in every facet of the game save punting (ZOLTAN WOO!) Penn State has vastly outperformed Michigan. You don't get spreads this high by accident.

Also, I am getting rocked by a cold and mostly want to lie around and snuffle. So this will be shorter than usual. (Update: but still 1100 words.)

Run Offense vs. PSU

It's hard to take Penn State's stats seriously when their out of conference schedule has Coastal Carolina, Temple, and Syracuse on it, but against teams with pulse-like objects:

Team Rushes Yards Avg
Oregon State 32 92 2.9
Illinois 42 189 4.5
Purdue 33 83 2.5
Wisconsin 40 148 3.7

Penn State's run defense has taken shotgun blasts in the form of departure, injury, and idiocy and keeps on trucking, as much of a zombie beast as the head coach.

As a spread team with no real quarterback threat and a questionable offensive line, Michigan most closely resembles—dammit—Purdue on this list. Penn State fans seem to be concerned about a couple of their linebackers in the wake of the Sean Lee injury, and if Michigan can catch someone slanting the wrong way or just frickin' block the DTs, there could be room to operate. I kind of doubt it, though, and expect more of the same.

Key Matchup: Sam McGuffie's intestines versus rupturing.

Pass Offense vs. PSU

Toledo faced off against Michigan with the nation's #109 pass efficiency defense and Michigan shredded them for 120 yards on 27 attempts, one touchdown, and three interceptions.

There's nothing to discuss if Threet isn't healthy. This is a disaster zone.

Even if he is, Threet's shining moment in the rain against Notre Dame has been followed by considerable ugliness. He is currently 95th in passer efficiency.

Penn State, meanwhile:

Team Cmp/Att Yards YPA TD-Int
Oregon State 25/41 250 6.1 0-2
Illinois 13/24 183 7.6 2-1
Purdue 16/27 158 5.9 0-1
Wisconsin 11/27 165 6.1 0-2

Uuuuuuuuugly. For opponents. Which is us in this case. 2-6 INT ratio, one team even in a marginally crappy YPA range, many, many incompletion. Penn State is also 17th in sacks allowed. In a word: likely DEATH.

THIS MATCHUP=TONY FRANKLIN.

Key Matchup: Threet versus elbow bruises and so forth and so on.

Run Defense vs. PSU

This is the one area in which Michigan is respectable… outside of net punting, of course. (WOO! ZOLTAN.) They currently sit 21st nationally, but in the most relevant matchup to date things went only okay:

Team Rushes Yards Avg
Illinois 47 191 4.1

That average isn't great but it's not an oblieration, either. Penn State, however, is back to the ways of Robinson, smoking opponents:

Team Rushes Yards Avg
Oregon State 38 239 6.3
Illinois 44 241 5.5
Purdue 40 202 5.1
Wisconsin 35 106 3.0

Oregon State was still wobbly early in the year and Illinois has been vulnerable on the ground against teams not named Michigan, so maybe there's some hope in the Wisconsin numbers? Eh… possibly. I expect the defensive tackles to get considerably more action than they did against Toledo, but they're all spread and HD and stuff and can attack outside—attack the linebackers—and we all know how that goes.

The verdict: a mix of stuffs up the middle with linebacker errors and Royster beating iffy tackles and one enormous bust and it looks like the Purdue game minus ten or twenty yards.

Key Matchup: Michigan defenders tackling the slippery Royster.

Pass Defense vs. PSU

Hey, so this blog can't be blamed for giving Darryl Clark a rating of '1' when these facts prevailed:

  • Clark was under the tutelage of Jay Paterno.
  • He sat behind Anthony Morelli for three years.

So it was a shock when he came out and started housing fools, then continued housing fools, and has pretty much got a Habitat for Ohio State Fans set up by this point. Then Joe Paterno said the reason they hadn't pulled Morelli last year was because JoePa hadn't wanted to give the media the satisfaction of being right about how crappy he was.

Ohhhh. Oh, JoePa is crazy. Okay. Still, fact A is in effect, which makes it freakin amazing that Clark is currently #15 in passer efficiency. In eight years as Penn State's QB coach JayPa has never had an above-average passer.

Now he does, and how. Meanwhile, Michigan's safeties are wearing shirts that say "I'm with touchdown-catching wide receiver". And Penn State has one of those ground games that can suck up safeties like whoah. Expect at least a few guys running open deep and 1-2 touchdown bombs; inbetween Michigan's attempts to contain Clark will stunt the pass rush and Penn State's fleet of little bastard WRs will turn little hitch routes into first downs as Michigan's linebackers whiff the tackles.

Key Matchup: Oh, hell, Brandon Graham getting to the quarterback, I guess.

Special Teams

We're down to #2 in net punting.

Key Matchup: Meh.

Intangibles

 garfield-sob

garfield minus garfield 

Cheap Thrills

Worry if...

  • Worry is the domain of the raw; worry is to be soothed.
  • What's the worst that can happen?
  • When they come for you, they will not know your name.

Cackle with knowing glee if...

  • Joy is only a mask of fear.
  • Loathe it, fight it, remain even.
  • Interstellar darkness is vast beyond the capabilities of your imagination and cares nothing about your plight.

Fear/Paranoia Level: 0 out of 10. (Fear is the mindkiller. Fear nothing anymore; in your despair you find the freedom only the forsaken can experience.).

Desperate need to win level: 0 out of 10. (Needs lash the soul to the rack of imperfection. You need nothing. You experience all things, and all things experience you.)

Loss will cause me to... accept the nature of things; this wildebeest awaits only the chew.

Win will cause me to... laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh.

The strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to predict:

VICTORY!

No… no, not really.

Finally, opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:

  • the universe is going to die someday.
  • it expands, taking everything away from everything else.
  • one day an atom will repulse another atom, and that will be it, the Last Interaction.
  • will the final score tomorrow matter then?
  • penn state fans think so.

Comments

Anonymous Coward (not verified)

October 17th, 2008 at 1:42 PM ^

One of my favorite posts so far Brian. Your hollow hopelessness echoes and gives name to my own.

TBG

October 17th, 2008 at 1:55 PM ^

"in your despair you find the freedom only the forsaken can experience".  You have perfectly summed up the season in that one phrase.  Brilliant!  I feel better now.  All is good.  

smoph

October 17th, 2008 at 1:55 PM ^

does anybody else out there think that its likely that we lose by more than 50?  joepa has built up 10 years of frustration and I am guessing he wont show any mercy at all.

Yinka Double Dare

October 17th, 2008 at 1:59 PM ^

Nah, it's still JoePa.  If we lose by more than 50 it won't be because PSU showed no mercy, it will be because we didn't score a point and our defense can't tackle a 3rd string running back.  JoePa will pull the starters well before it hits 50 -- they play Ohio State next weekend for one, and risking injury to run up the score would be retarded when you're in the national title hunt.  All PSU has to do is win and wait for one of Bama and Texas to lose and they'd be in position.  And at least one of Texas and Bama will lose before the season is out.

ThWard

October 17th, 2008 at 2:03 PM ^

Ugh, I hate myself for predicting it.  And yet, as Brian suggests, I feel free now.

 

UM football SANS emotional attachment?  Brilliant!

BleedingBlue

October 17th, 2008 at 2:10 PM ^

I am sad.

I guess Brian didn't see the clip on Inside Michigan Sports this week when they talked about how Mossman's Chess Team in high school beat the best, most notoriously beat-downish chess team in the country....or how Sheridammit went 2 for 6 off Putnam in High School....but alas, I am still sad.

DamnYankee

October 17th, 2008 at 2:16 PM ^

we throw fuck-all to the wind and come out and do a bunch of crazy trick plays?   We have absolutely nothing to lose and might it be possible that we throw enough haymakers to win this?  Could we see some sort of wild hog formation or even some Feagin?  Am I dreaming, delusional, or both?   

Anyways, keep up the great work Brian!

caup

October 17th, 2008 at 2:30 PM ^

PSU turns the ball over like 5 times in the 1st half and starts to press. 

Michigan is all like "fuck it," plays loose and actually hits some of their plays. 

The LB replacing Lee SUUUUCKS.

PSU gets themselves in a large hole that they can't come back from, until...

The refs refuse to allow PSU to lose AGAIN to M, especially 2-4 suckass M. Holding. Holding. Pass INT. Pass INT.  Game over.

PSU wins this game, without exception.

Anonymous Coward (not verified)

October 17th, 2008 at 2:35 PM ^





I understand the desire to be rational here, and that everyone's spirit has been broken time and again this year, but damn you all. There is no question that we are as bad this year as any of us has ever seen, we can't move the ball on offense, we can't stop the ball on defense. The players on the field are simply not ready mentally or physically for taking over the spots they are in, but damn it, we are Michigan Football and they are Penn State. I have seen us pull games out too many times to not have hope here, to not think that we may for a drive, or two, or three put them back on their heals and hush that damn happy valley crowd. Of all the games that I have been to, there is no question that a late afternoon / night game at their place is intense and LOUD, the We Are Penn State shit is repetitive and annoying, but impressive. But there is nothing I have heard like the silence in that stadium after Alan Branch Morellied Morelli. There is nothing like the sound I heard when Mario tucked the ball to his chest with 0 on the clock in AA. This rivalry (if you can call it that) has had too much history. They have been better before, and we have won. We have been down before, and we have won, they have been favored before and we have won. I am sorry, but I cannot take the talk of their HD offense and everyone's sad and pathetic acceptance of their superiority. Penn State is NOT that good, and we, we are NOT that bad. These guys on the field may not feel it, they may not remember or even care what has happened in years past, but I do, and I know, that while we are all resigned to our defeat, there should not be a single Penn State fan in that stadium tomorrow night that is supremely confident in their superiority. I, for one, plan on taking a stroll tomorrow night, through a stunned silent crowd, singing the Victors. 

Anonymous Coward (not verified)

October 17th, 2008 at 2:37 PM ^

This post is so incredible that it makes the pain go away (at least until Michigan State).

Anonymous Coward (not verified)

October 17th, 2008 at 2:40 PM ^





I understand the desire to be rational here, and that everyone's spirit has been broken time and again this year, but damn you all. There is no question that we are as bad this year as any of us has ever seen, we can't move the ball on offense, we can't stop the ball on defense. The players on the field are simply not ready mentally or physically for taking over the spots they are in, but damn it, we are Michigan Football and they are Penn State. I have seen us pull games out too many times to not have hope here, to not think that we may for a drive, or two, or three put them back on their heals and hush that damn happy valley crowd. Of all the games that I have been to, there is no question that a late afternoon / night game at their place is intense and LOUD, the We Are Penn State shit is repetitive and annoying, but impressive. But there is nothing I have heard like the silence in that stadium after Alan Branch Morellied Morelli. There is nothing like the sound I heard when Mario tucked the ball to his chest with 0 on the clock in AA. This rivalry (if you can call it that) has had too much history. They have been better before, and we have won. We have been down before, and we have won, they have been favored before and we have won. I am sorry, but I cannot take the talk of their HD offense and everyone's sad and pathetic acceptance of their superiority. Penn State is NOT that good, and we, we are NOT that bad. These guys on the field may not feel it, they may not remember or even care what has happened in years past, but I do, and I know, that while we are all resigned to our defeat, there should not be a single Penn State fan in that stadium tomorrow night that is supremely confident in their superiority. I, for one, plan on taking a stroll tomorrow night, through a stunned silent crowd, singing the Victors. 

Anonymous Coward (not verified)

October 17th, 2008 at 2:44 PM ^

My paranoid Penn State brain is telling me Brian really thinks Michigan will be competitive, but he's saying all these things so he can take the wind out of the sails of any PSU fans looking forward to gloating on Monday.

Or maybe not. Good lucky, guys.

Mike @ Black Shoe Diaries

Anonymous Coward (not verified)

October 17th, 2008 at 2:45 PM ^

Anyone remember that game where we were up against a Heisman Winner, an unstoppable offense, and a stiffling defense. We had one of our largest underdog spreads in years...and it was a home game for the other side. The goal was to "make it close" and "give us a shot". There were a lot of annoyed Gators that day - "How could we lose to a team that got beat by App State?!"...tomorrow we can make a whole bunch of people say "How could we lose to a team that got beat by Toledo?!"

The absense of fear creates the opportunity for success.

MMB 82

October 17th, 2008 at 2:55 PM ^

...losing to PSU will actually increase (however infinitesimally) the chances of UM making a bowl game. But we are talking major negative exponent chances here. Like everyone who ever posted on mgoblog hitting the lottery, or something like that. The great thing about DVRing the game and watching it later is that you can fast forward thru the whole thing in a matter of minutes.

Engin77

October 17th, 2008 at 3:27 PM ^

... halftime of this year's Wisconsin game.

C'mon, this is why
they play the games on the field, and not in NCAA 2009.  Stanford
went to USC last year something like 40 pt underdogs, ... and
won!  Anything can happen in Happy Valley Saturday.

I'll cackle with knowing glee if ...

    ...  RR gets the refs to put 2 seconds back on the clock in the 4th Quarter! 

MechE

October 17th, 2008 at 3:28 PM ^

38-0 PSU

 Actually, I'm not sure how many points PSU will put up, but I'm pretty confident we won't get any, especially if Threet is still hurt.  I just hope our players don't get frustrated and start playing dirty (i.e. Carson Butler throwing a punch in the ND game).

colin

October 17th, 2008 at 3:35 PM ^

1)Start team oriented college football blog just before said team plays Vince Young

2)Provide massive word stream in observation and criticism of said team's worst season in 20 years.

3)Have heart ripped out by rival the following year after team fields its best group of players since last national championship.

4)The Horror

5)Watch as your team yakety saxes (a term you yourself coined in an effort to mock a rival) its way through a season in which said team fields perhaps its worst ever group of players.

6)Neglect to see Bob Pollard on his way through a2, which would have provided a modicum of faith in humanity.

Tim Waymen

October 17th, 2008 at 3:59 PM ^

I know a lot of people won't agree with me, but I endorse the Buckeyes in this year's meeting with the Spartans.  Why, you ask?  Do you really want Spartan fans to brag about not only how we (probably will have) had a shitty season, but about how they've beaten the Buckeyes and we haven't?  I sure as hell don't, not that I really know any Spartans.

Seriously, Little Brother does not have a place at the big boys' table, and that's why I endorse Ohio State this weekend.  I understand that many native Michiganders are sympathetic to Little Bro, so that might be one thing

Anonymosity

October 17th, 2008 at 4:12 PM ^

At least there won't be any headlines next week about how Michigan was upset by some shoddy MAC or I-AA team.

If your expectations are low enough, you can't possibly be disappointed.  My expectations for this game have approached that limit.  Though I think UM has at least an outside chance in all of the remaining games, this is a terrible matchup that is probably borderline unwinnable based on team history.  See Oregon/Illinois, with a much better defense.

Enjoy Life

October 17th, 2008 at 4:24 PM ^

Yeah, my gut aches already. Sorry, nothing will ever make me feel even remotely calm about impending doom.

Who was it that said, "Football is not life and death, it's much more important than that!"

Anonymous Coward (not verified)

October 17th, 2008 at 4:23 PM ^

Is there really no added concern that this is only the second road game, and the first was the Yakity-Sax filled Cripple Fight 08?

I'm kinda surprised, because it's got to be a bit worrying that their first road games are likely to be disasters, and they have almost nothing other than road games left.

Anonymous Coward (not verified)

October 17th, 2008 at 6:02 PM ^

Truly classic post. I got a lot out of it. At some point we become a dangerous team not based on our talent level but what we have built up emotionally. There is a force there to be unleashed. Let it come out tomorrow.