Till Next Year

At the end of the last post, I touched on how these next three games would decide the Lions’ fate and whether or not Saquon had a shot at the Heisman. Remember how hopeful we all felt? This was it- we were number two in the country- the eyes of the nation were upon us. Win two of these games and PSU would be in a very good spot to go to their first ever CFP.

Things started out as well as they could on the second offensive play of the Michigan game. Saquon took the ball over 60 yards for a touchdown, electrifying the record setting white out attendance of over 110,000. Minutes later, Saquon would run for another touchdown. Coming out at halftime with a 21-13 lead, PSU never looked back, dominating for a 42-13 win, running it up in the process to avenge last season.

Saquon Barkley runs 67 yards on the second play of the game.

Coming off the Michigan domination, the Lions headed to Columbus Ohio to play the Buckeyes. For the second straight week, the game involving the Lions hosted College Gameday. Once again, as has been the trend this season, Penn State was hot right out of the gate. Saquon took the opening kick all the way back scoring on his first touch yet again! Then, on their first posession, the Buckeyes fumbled and PSU capitalized. Minutes later, Saquon would run 36 yards for a touchdown to make it 21-3. Keeping a lead around most of the game, an controllable game and a crucial win seemed within reach. Everything, the CFP, the Heisman,  silencing the doubts, were all within grasp- and then it happened. In the most Penn State-esq way, the offense stalled and the defense could not make a stop. What resulted was a gut wrenching 38-39 heart break loss.

Saquon takes the opening kick back against

Picking up the pieces, the Lions would head to East Lansing to play the Michigan State Spartans. PSU was ranked 7 and MSU was ranked 24 in the first CFP. As expected, PSU was electric to start the game passing all over the MSU defense… and then the rain set in. An ensuing 2 hour delay took away all the steam from the Lions’ offense and left the field soaked. Weather favors the underdog. as the game progressed, word spread that Ohio State had been upset. The door was wide open- and MSU closed it shut 27-24 in one of the most deflating losses in recent PSU history. Trace McSorely threw three picks and Saquon could not get going. It was all there for us, and we let it get away. Penn State lost this season by 4 points.

In other news, Georgia is unbeaten no more and Notre Dame got destroyed by a legitimate Miami team. Both are results Penn State needed to make the CFP had they escaped MSU. After beating Rutgers the Lions are now 10 in the country and in great position withtwo gamesleft to make a big time New Year’s Six bowl. In any year this would be considered a major success, but after seeing what it feels like to be at the top, it just seems like fools gold.

#dontbethatguy goes to me and all the other fans who bought into a national title.

Next game: Nebraska 4pm BIG 10 Network. Its senior day, and likely Saquon’s last game.

 

Gameday!

Get up, its Gameday! For the first time since 2009, ESPN’s College Gameday will be broadcasted live from Penn State, and for the first time ever, from iconic Old Main. Every week the show picks the best game of the week and hosts their show from the campus of the host team. They decided that this week, the whiteout showdown between 2. Penn State 19. Michigan, is the place to be.The atmosphere around campus is electric and campus is soon to be packed. James Franklin is calling for Beaver Stadium to be #110kstrong, and an all time large crowd is expected.

The iconic Gameday crew, hosting them is a dream come true for college football fans.

Everyone around college football knows that Penn State is relatively untested so far this season. Crucial to their national championship hopes is the upcoming three game stretch of 19. Michigan, 6. Ohio State, and 17. Michigan State. Penn State has done well enough to get to this point 6-0. They survived the upsets and turmoil, and now find themselves on the cusp of an actually attainable birth to their first ever College Football Playoff. Several key upsets have led to the Lions being ranked second, their highest ranking since 1999. Coming off a strong win (albeit there was much concern about a porous offensive line) against Northwestern, an advantageous bye week propelled the Lions forward. The sights are now set on Michigan. A team who humiliated the Lions 49-10, a team who may have kept the Lions out of the CFP with the trouncing, now comes to town with a chance for revenge on primetime at 7:30pm, in a whiteout, with College Gameday coming. One could argue this may be the single biggest game in terms of coverage in Penn State history. A convincing win could solidify the Lions as contenders, and Saquon as the premier Heisman favorite. The spread of 11 points for this game is a little high in my opinion, I do not know if i would take the Lions, but in this environment I think the Lions will get the job done.

Assuming the Lions win, the next two games, both away at ranked opponents, will decide the fate of the Lions. One Vegas opening line has Ohio State as 9.5 point favorites which is both insulting and astounding.

Elsewhere around college football this week we have a CFP eliminator game in 11. USC vs 13. Notre Dame. Both teams have one loss and with other gaining a huge advantage with a big win, the other will be eliminated from contention. At the midway point of the season, it appears that there may, for the first time ever, be one conference that gets more than one team in the CFP with the ACC, PAC 12, and Big 12 having teams with outside chances of getting in. This begs the question, assuming everyone goes 11-1, who gets in? Ohio State and PSU, or UGA and Bama? Personally, I feel that the SEC teams have incredibly weak schedules, so the Big 10 should get the nod. Only time will tell.

The honor of #dontbethatguy goes to Auburn for losing against a lackluster LSU team when up 20-0.

Don’t forget to tune into gameday at 9am, and the whiteout on primetime at 7:30ET on ABC

Just a friendly reminder of what happened last time Michigan vs. PSU whiteout was a night game.

National Title Dreams and a Heisman Hopeful

During the last blog I touched on how a game in Iowa at night is a scary one. Upsets just happen. Depending on how this season turns out, what transpired that night may go into the halls of Penn State Football’s all time lore. Per usual, Iowa’s magic at home was working and a Penn State team that seemingly dominated the game (absolutely destroying Iowa in yards gained 579-273) found themselves unable to pull away. The catalyst of the Lion’s offense and emphasis of the pregame hype, Saquon Barkley shined. In arguably the best game of his career the junior put up a staggering 358 all purpose yards, while making play after play that left those watching wondering, “how is that humanly possible?”. Barkley carried the team and solidified his case for the Heisman trophy in front of a national audience, saving PSU from a loss that would have left no room for error in their quest for a championship. Barkley’s heroics, however, were not enough to put Iowa away. In Kinick Stadium, nothing works, and PSU found themselves 80 yards and 1:42 away from no longer being perfect. Displaying incredible composure and leadership, QB Trace McSorely led the Lions down the field to the 7 yard line, converting on a 4th down along the way, with just four seconds left. 4th and Goal. One last play. Penn State needed a miracle- and got one. Juwan Johnson caught his first career touchdown pass as time expired to keep his team perfect and shock the nation.

Miracles like this happen in special seasons, just look at Clemson’s miracle against NC State last year when a kicker missed a chip shot and gave the Tigers a chance in OT.

How does one follow up an incredible performance in a hard fought game? He runs the opening kick against Indiana back for a TD. Saquon Barkley showed the nation that the Iowa game was no fluke. He is the real deal.After Iowa, PSU had a 3:30 start against Indiana. The Lions quickly found themselves up 21-0 in the first quarter although it was because Indiana just made a lot of mistakes. After falling behind 21-0 that early, IU never really had a chance to get back into it against the stout Lion defense. To put an exclamation point on the game, Barkley even threw a touchdown pass prompting the announcer to exclaim, “What can’t he do!” Final PSU 45- IU 14.

After 5 games, Saquon Barkley and Baker Mayfield of OU have separated themselves from the rest of the field of Heisman hopefuls. One dark horse, Bryce Love of Stanford, may give those two a run for their money, however. Elsewhere around CFB, it finally happened. An overrated USC was not able to shake off a horrible game and took the L. They dropped to 15 in the poll while the team that knocked them off, Washington State, climbed to 11.

Next up for the Lions: Northwestern. Another sneaky trap game, 12pm kickoff- 11am in Chicago- has notoriously left the Lions starting slowly. Assuming they take care of business, the Lions will head into their bye 6-0, knowing that their season has just begun and on the other side of that bye waits 7. Michigan in the whiteout, and 10. Ohio State in one of the most dreadful places to play- the Horseshoe.

Lastly, #dontbethatguy goes to the kicker of ECU who punted the ball straight into the back of his teammate. Nice.

PSU Rolls Onward

Since the last blog, Penn State has played two games, and won both on the scoreboard but went 1-1 against the spread. On national television, in front of 109,000+ fans, the 4th ranked Lions took the field against bitter rival Pitt hoping to avenge a gut wrenching 42-39 loss last season that may have ultimately kept the Lions out of the CFP. Before the game, the crowd was rocking as the 2016 sign to commemorate last year’s magical season was unveiled. Getting off to a fast start, in the first defensive series, DB Grant Haley intercepted a pass and returned it to inside the ten yardline. One play later, it was 7-0. State never looked back. The largest crowd in several yearswas treated to a 33-14 victory. This result, however, was not good enough for the AP voters as the Lions dropped to 5 in the poll, behind USC who dominated a top 20 Stanford squad. 

Saquon Barkley scoring one of two TD’s against Pitt

One week later, on September 16, the Nittany Lions faced off against the Georgia State Panthers under the lights. Despite the fact that the 38.5 point spread on the game was the largest in PSU history, the atmosphere was electrifying. Potentially more important than the game at hand, were the several top target recruits on hand at the game to witness Beaver Stadium and America’s best student section at night. With a game that was going to end in a PSU win before it even started, the fans were given a chance to celebrate a lot of touchdowns, none more impressive than this 85 yard reception by the incredible, Saquon Barkley.

The rest of the game was mop up duty as the reserves got to play. With the game well out of reach, and the clock winding down, Georgia State lined up to attempt a field go to prevent being shutout. It was a very makable field goal, and he made it- except, coach Franklin, had called a timeout seconds before the ball was snapped. This decision has drawn some controversy with members of the media speculating that he had attempted to ice a kicker while up 56-0. Coach Franklin has vehemently denied this, but honestly, who cares? The final score was PSU 56 GA State 0.

Elsewhere around college football this past weekend, USC avoided a catastrophic upset by coming back in the final seconds of regulation to force OT and beat Texas in double OT. This performance at home cost USC as they fell back to 5 and PSU returned to 4. Additionally, Ohio State could not figure out their offense and fell to 10 in the polls.

Next game up the Lions is a worrisome one. A night game in Kinnick. Any college football fan knows what that means. Upset. The Lions themselves felt the sting last time they were a top 5 team in a night game at Kinnick. The game will be aired nationally,4. PSU vs Iowa 7:30 ET on ABC.

Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not bestow the honor of #dontbethatguy to my favorite overrated coach in the country, Butch Jones. It seems like a trend to have Tennessee be overrated, or just the SEC in general. Regardless, his team, the Volunteers, lost on a hailmary. Gee, you can’t teach your defense or at least have them ready for a pass headed to the endzone? Everyone in the country knew where that ball was going.

Game 1: Akron vs. #6 Penn State

Ahh, the first game of the season. A nice day in early September in the happiest of valleys. Temperatures usually peak around 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit and everyone is feeling good in the warm sunlight. As the Lions took the field last Saturday, the 2nd of September, all thoughts of warm sunlight and chilling in Raybans disappeared as it was a miserable sub 60 degree day with intermittent heavy rain- not ideal at all for the first game of the season. With the Lions being 30.5 point favorites, the biggest fear of most fans was an unnecessary injury to Saquon Barkley- which is doubly likely in the sloppy conditions.

As soon as the game began, the Lions drove straight into Akron territory, but failed to score as Trace McSorely was picked off in the end zone. The Nit’s defense was stifling from the start, as would be a trend throughout the game, and forced Akron to punt after their first turn on offense. DeAndre Tompkins got the scoring started and electrified the crowd as he took the Zip’s first punt all the way to the end zone for the first touchdown of the 2017 season, and the first punt return by a Nittany Lion for TD since 2008. Later in the first quarter, preseason All American Mike Gesicki, would catch a TD from Trace McSorely to make it 14-0. The score would stay 14-0 through the end of the first quarter. After forcing another punt to start the second quarter, the Lions returned to offense inside their own 20 yd. line. Pre-season All American and Heisman Trophy front-runner, Saquon Barkley, took the ball on a hand off in the back field and gave the entire crowd the moment they were waiting for as he raced down the field for an electrifying 80 yard run, picking up right where he left off  in the Rose Bowl last season. McSorely would run it into the end zone a few plays later to make it 21-0 and from there on out the gamewas over. State would continue to dominate on both sides of the ball winning 52-0. After the game, coach James Franklin was quoted in saying that the 52-0 rout of Akron is, “probably the most complete game” (per CSNphilly.com) a team he has coached has ever played.

Other games over the weekend included the marque matchup of 3. FSU vs. 1. Alabama. This would be the first time ever two top three teams opened up their seasons against each other. Alabama, per usual, dominated the game on defense edging out FSU 24-7. The loss, however, was much greater for FSU than the score indicated as they lost their Heisman contender, starting quarterback Deondre Francois for the entire season due to a knee injury suffered in the fourth quarter. Another notable game was the Western Michigan vs. 4 USC game. USC was a heavy favorite and played a poor game from the start. So poorly in fact, many began to doubt the preseason hype surrounding QB Sam Darnold and the rest of the Trojans as legitimate national championship contenders.

This weeks honor of #dontbethatguy is awarded to the entire Pitt football team as they watched a 21 point lead vanish and had to beat FCS foe Youngstown State in OT.

In the newest AP Poll, The Nittany Lions have moved up to 4 in the country, jumping a lackluster USC and a losing FSU.

Next Game: Pitt vs. 4 PSU on ABC 3:30ET.

Passion Blog Idea pitch

A passion of mine has always been college football, namely Penn State football. To me, it is more interesting than the NFL. Every game means so much more and the fans are not simply fans. They are students, peers with the players, or impassioned alumni. You are not simply rooting for a team, but instead your school who is in turn an extension of yourself. Your pride is on the line along with the school’s and you live and die with every game. With this in mind, I think it would be fun to keep an active blog week to week with the happenings in college football in the past week. The football season and the blogs fit so perfectly in fact, that my blogs would follow the season right up into the beginning of bowl season.

My other idea for a blog would be to just focus on Penn State football. I would recap the latest game and give recruiting updates along with highlights from the game. Towards the end of the blog, I would shed light on other important happenings in the week of college football and how this affects Penn State.

Regardless of whether or not I write solely about Penn State football or not, I intend to have a little segment at the end of every blog that highlights one player or one group of players, who messed up or made a horrible mistake in a key situation. This segment would be where the name of my blog, “dontbethatguy” begins to make sense. I would write about the highlighted mistake and remind everyone to, “don’t be that guy”.

To recap: Blog option 1: All of college football. Blog Option 2: Just Penn State football.

I am interested to see what you guys think, any and all suggestions are welcomed.