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Bye Gone Bye

I will NOT shart myself this time.

So the bye week was nice, no need for a lot of analysis of a team, only healing of injuries to report and at the same time moving up the BCS rankings by doing  nothing.  But I have to admit – it felt weird not to have a Buckeye game to watch.  The scares that Iowa and Wisconsin were very interesting, the battle of terrible defense that TSUN and Illinois put on display was insane to watch, having the Tide go down (again), TCU take Utah behind the woodshed, and Oklahoma lose was awesome – but none of them are even as remotely close to being as awesome as any Buckeye game.  Even all the drama surrounding Cam Newton regarding improper benefits couldn’t take the place of watching the men of scarlet and gray.  So it will be nice to get back to the home stretch this weekend.

So this week the Nittany Lions come to the Shoe .  Joe Pa racked up career win 400 last week and that is really something amazing.  But his thank you speech was rough, I hope that the career milestone was enough for him to hang it up.  Even if I do find his blithering entertaining.  Also good about the win is that the emotional charge of “getting 400” will be gone.  If anything there would be a drop in level of hype I would think.  The only real boost would come if you figure that State Penn will be able to pull the “we are being disrespected by the 18 point spread” thing and get some juice out of that.

Also good for us is the fact that the QB situation at Penn State is a complete mess.  The starter at the beginning of the season was #1 freshman Bolden – who was a young dual threat type guy which basically meant he couldn’t pass very well.  Then he got hurt and in stepped #11 McGloin, a former walk on guy that has stepped up and had some nice games through the air against Minnesota and Northwestern (big whoop) and now seems to have sealed up the starting role.  McGloin checks in at a towering 6’ 200 lbs is completely one dimensional as he is no threat to run and has seemed to find a way to talk trash to the Buckeye defense and TP all in the short week leading up to the game.  As Jerod Smalley from wcmhblogs.com posted:

Saturday will be his 2nd career start yet he’s already brimming with confidence, teetering on arrogance.  He called Ohio State’s status as a 17-point favorite in the game “just ridiculous.”  And when asked about the Buckeyes much talked about defense (ranks #1 in the Big Ten, #3 nationally) McGloin said his Lions are “definitely going to be able to move the ball…”  But it’s what McGloin said about his recruitment, or lack thereof, out of high school that struck me.  He was asked about OSU’s Terrelle Pryor, whose famous recruitment out of Jeannette, PA was the biggest national recruiting story of 2008.  “Everybody was following what he was doing,” McGloin said. “A couple guys, including myself, didn’t get offers because of him. (Schools) were waiting to see what he was doing. … Terrelle Pryor made things confusing for a lot of people.”

Nice work ass hat.  Good way to motivate a better team and quarterback to want to put a beating on you.

Other Penn State Notables:

–          #22 Royster is back running the ball and on pace for another 1000 yard season – albeit most of his production was against Temple, TSUN, and Northwestern – in other words teams with little to no defense.  Backing him up is emerging freshman #25 Redd who is a breakaway speed burner type capable of running between the tackles as well.  Of course Penn State also has a couple good fullbacks in #37 Suhey (another NFL player offspring) and #9 Zordich.  Suhey is also involved as a receiver and Zordich gets more totes.  Both of them will see the field a lot with the lack of TE in the Lion offense.

–          The O line is led by son of a NFL legacy Wisniewski at RG and but other than that have a lot of solid but unspectacular players.  The line has suffered from personnel turnover and injury with starting the starting RT (Eliades) going down after the Temple game.  They have been more consistent of late leading to better offensive production.  LG #74 Troutman was a starter last year and is a good interior blocker, replacement at RT is former defensive linemen #52 Okoli.  At center is senior #68 Klopacz who spent last year rehabbing an ACL that was injured in 2008.  Manning the blindside is #67 Barham a versatile player with starting experience at both center and guard.

–          #6 Moye is the best receiver  and preferred target of Mc-Groin.  The number two is #83 Brackett a former QB that is big enough to create size matchup difficulties in the secondary.   Due to the loss of starting TE early in the season, the Lions go four receivers and a fullback a lot of the time.  The other two receiver spots are filled by #19 Brown who is the possession receiver type and #20 Smith who is small (5’7” 157 lbs) – so small that he is barely noticeable which makes him a big play threat.  Also available is Zug who caught 9 passes for 76 yards last year against the Buckeyes who has been somewhat of a no show all season.

–          On defense Penn State is not as strong as some years but are far from pushovers.  Gone are Odrick from the D line, Bowman and Lee from the linebacking corps.  Also injuries to starting ends Crawford and Latimore have forced more youth into playing time.  Even though they are both on the depth chart this week it is tough to say if they will get significant time.  Most of the snaps will be handled by two sophomores on the edge #59 Massaro and #47 Hill.  In the middle is 5th year senior Ogbu and junior #71 Still.  The uglies up front seemed to get on track last week pestering Northwestern QB Persa into sacks and tackles for loss on several occasions.  Linebackers #42 Mauti and #48 Colasnti account for about 20% of all tackles on the team so look for them to be active on Saturday.

–          The Lion secondary like the Buckeye unit has been affected (though not nearly as dramatically) by the injury bug.  They lost starting free safety Sukay to a torn pectoral muscle (sound familiar) and with him went half of the teams interceptions at the time.  Since then they have only picked one. #10 Willis filled his shoes and although has not been the ball hawk does have 32 stops on the year.  At cornerback starter #12 Morris has also been battling injuries and so  #2 Powell now starts in his spot –  the most interesting thing about him is that his first name is Chaz (really?).   At left corner is #8 Lynn who started last year against the Buckeyes and is the only current starting DB to have an interception.  Keep an eye on #28 Astorino at strong safety who leads the Lion DB’s with 50 tackles, who also has battled injuries throughout his career.

When it comes to the Buckeyes the only question mark will be shaking off any rust after bye week.  The break was totally welcome in so many ways but Tressel teams have been less than spectacular coming back from a week off.  But then again these are the same Tressel  teams that play some of the best ball during November going 26-4 in the final month of the season.  It will be nice to see Homan back on the field in his normal spot and Bell back on special teams.  Any healing and or study that our secondary could have received is incredibly valuable.  On offense I see Boom getting it done again, he has stepped up in a big way and the line feeds off his energy.   Pryor should be able to get to the inexperienced secondary with Sanzenbacher and Posey, and should have a closer to full strength Stoneburner to utilize as well.  Of course Saine should get his touches (preferably catches).

Penn State will no doubt come in fired up but I just have trouble seeing a smack talking walk on coming into the Shoe with GameDay on the scene and having success against the Silver Bullets.  Heyward dominated them last year and is due for another breakout game.  On offense we just have too many weapons, and Pryor is playing at too high of a level for the Lion defense to stop.

Regardless of how well Penn State has looked the last two weeks against Minny and Northwestern you have to consider against the better teams (Alabama, Iowa, Illinois) the results were all lopsided losses (24-3, 24-3, and 33-13 respectively).  I think they are in for another night of hearing the Buckeye fans chant their favorite song.  I think Tresselball keeps it close for a while but we eventually pull away in a statement like victory.

Prediction:

Ohio State – 48

Penn State – 10