August 12, 2008

2008: Grading the non-conference schedules


We've created a vicious cycle in college football. Sure we all love the fact that just about every game is on TV nowadays. And because coaches and athletic directors want their teams to look good on TV, so they schedule a lot of limp fish opponents. Because wins beget bowl games. Bowl games begets job security. Job security begets more money. Thus, more money is insured by wins. You spin me right round baby right round, like a record.

No longer do college football teams across the country take chances. Or, well, rarely do they. Have you noticed how boring Septembers have become, except for the occasional Appy State upset of Michigan or Ohio State showdown with Texas?

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December 29, 2007

PSU-A&M: Penn State wins the battle of the Alamodome

SAN ANTONIO, TX -- One of the major flaws of the bowl post-season system is that when you have two teams take five weeks off, then play a relatively meaningless contest, odds are pretty decent that you'll get a stinker of a game.

The 2007 Valero Alamo Bowl was anything but a stinker.

In front of a mostly-hostile Alamodome-record crowd, Penn State dug out of a 14-0 hole, then withstood two long Texas A&M drives to pull off a 24-17 classic in Joe Paterno's 500th game.

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PSU-A&M: Another epic drive comes up empty

SAN ANTONIO, TX -- Trailing 24-17, Texas A&M took the ball at their own one yard line, drove all the way to the Penn State two, rolled the dice on 4th-and-1, but came up snake eyes.

WIth under eight minutes remaining, Penn State leads 24-17.

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PSU-A&M: Penn State answers, pronto

SAN ANTONIO, TX -- That didn't take long.

Penn State quickly busted up the tie game with a 38-yard TD run by freshman Evan Royster.

At the end of three quarters, the Nittany Lions lead A&M 24-17.

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PSU-A&M: A&M bears down, ties it up

SAN ANTONIO, TX -- A&M just finished an epic drive (well as epic as a FG drive can be) and tied the game on a 38-yard FG by Matt Szymanski.

With about four minutes left in the third, Penn State and A&M are deadlocked at 17.

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PSU-A&M: Halftime History Lesson and Stats

SAN ANTONIO, TX -- At halftime, Penn State leads Texas A&M 17-14, and there are about 25 high school bands on the field right now, so this seems like a good time to toss out some randomness.

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PSU-A&M: Everything's normal for Penn State

SAN ANTONIO, TX -- Penn State's modus operandi for this season has been to start slow, then unleash with fury. The Coming into the game, the Lions' cumulative 1st quarter scoreboard read 72-72, but Penn State had dominated their opponents by a 114-21 mark in the second quarter.

Tonight has been no different -- Texas A&M led the game 14-0 after the first 15 minutes, but Penn State owned the second quarter and heads into half with a 17-14 lead.

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PSU-A&M: Shootout in San Antone

SAN ANTONIO, TX -- A&M scored touchdowns 12 seconds apart in the first quarter. Penn State has just answered with two TD's 2:04 apart to tie the game 14-14.

An incredible 30-yard TD catch by Deon Butler cut A&M's lead to 14-7, then after a Michael Goodson fumble, Daryll Clark flew in from 11 yards out to tie it.

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PSU-A&M: Whooping is contagious

SAN ANTONIO, TX -- Believe it or not, it's now 14-0 Aggies.

After Michael Goodson's 1-yard TD run, Penn State fumbled the ensuing kickoff. The fumble call was the latest I've ever seen, coming after both teams were leaving the field. The call was immediately reviewed and upheld, and it took A&M only one play to punch it in.

I mentioned in the preview that Goodson was suffering from a sophomore slump... well, slump over. On the first play after the turnover, Goodson busted through a big hole in the middle, then cut sharply to his right and outran everyone for a 16-yard TD, his second TD tonight, which matches his season total.

PSU-A&M: First shots fired at the Alamo Bowl

SAN ANTONIO, TX -- Texas A&M's Kyle Field has been called the loudest football stadium in the nation by some.

The Aggies have just scored to take a 7-0 lead, and with seemingly 90% of the sellout crowd wearing maroon and making strange whooping noises, the Alamodome is really rocking and rolling, too. And unlike Kyle Field, there's a roof to keep the sound in.

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PSU-A&M: Alamo Bowl Preview

SAN ANTONIO, TX -- The 2007 Valero Alamo Bowl brings us an interesting cross-sectional matchup that's full of contrasts. Penn State (8-4) makes a long trip to San Antonio to take on Texas A&M (7-5), which made the 170-mile drive from College Station to play before a partisan crowd that will be an Alamo Bowl record.

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October 27, 2007

Statement game

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Ohio State solidifies No. 1 ranking by dominating Penn State at Beaver Stadium on Saturday night.

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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Malcom Jenkins picked off Anthony Morelli and returned it 24 yards for a touchdown to push the Ohio State lead to 34-10 with 9:36 left in the game.

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Not much going on

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - The teams exchanged field goals as Ohio State takes a 27-10 lead with 9:52 left in the game.

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Making a White Out Blue

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Todd Boeckman and the Ohio State offense are doing whatever they want to the Penn State defense. The Buckeyes drove 87 yards on their first drive of the second half to open up a 24-7 lead on the Nittany Lions.

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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Ohio State takes a 17-7 lead into halftime.

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Can't be denied

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - The Ohio State offensive line is exerting control as the Buckeyes put together a 91-yard touchdown drive to take a 17-7 lead in the second quarter.

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I need a rest

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - An expected defensive battle is turning into a shootout at Beaver Stadium.

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Quick Response

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Penn State answered Ohio State's field goal with a two-yard touchdown run by Rodney Kinlaw with 8:25 left in the first quarter.

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First blood

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - No. 1 Ohio State takes an early 3-0 lead on Penn State.

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Already rocking

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Beaver Stadium is already rocking more than 45 minutes before kickoff.

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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - With two of the best defenses in the country clashing tonight at Beaver Stadium, offense will be at a premium when No. 1 Ohio State faces No. 25 Penn State in a key Big Ten clash.

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September 22, 2007

Postgame Thoughts

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- After Michigan held Penn State to a field goal with 6 minutes left, it was up to the offense to try and run off a little clock to preserve the lead. And it did, gaining two key first downs before punting with 1:34 to go in the game. The first first down was key, as Mallett avoided a rush on 3rd-and-11 and bought enough time for wide receiver Greg Mathews to come open across the middle.

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Michigan extends the Lead

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- After the Penn State field goal, the Wolverines methodically march down the field, ending the drive with a Hart run up the middle for the touchdown.

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Nittany Lions Cut the Lead

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- After an impressive drive deep into Michigan territory, running back Austin Scott fumbled on a play that was upheld after review. But the Wolverines gave it right back after a short drive of their own when Mallett fumbled a snap from center Justin Boren.

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Halftime Update

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Nothing too surprising in the first half, unless you count a Michigan lead as a shock. Neither team has done much on offense, although Michigan had two good drives near the end of the first half result in 0 points.

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And Penn State puts up some points

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- After an extended drive by Penn State beginning at its own 20, placekicker Kevin Kelly knocked through a 28-yard field goal from the right hash. The Nittany Lions ran almost exclusively out of the shotgun on the drive, a change from Paterno's usual. Several long third-down completions by Morelli kept the drive alive, but on 3rd-and-5 from inside Michigan's 11, Morelli missed a wide open Deon Butler on a slant. He overthrew the pass, and Penn State had to settle for a field goal. Michigan 7, Penn State 3.

End of the First

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- At the end of the first quarter, the score remains 7-0. Penn State had one good drive during the quarter, but that ended with a Brandon Graham sack and a bad Morelli incompletion. Michigan has moved the chains a little bit, and is driving down the field after gaining a tough first down on 3rd-and-10 with a completion to Adrian Arrington. Michigan coach Lloyd Carr tried a bit of trickery at the end of the quarter, as Mallett was split wide and freshman wide receiver Junior Hemingway took the snap. But Penn State sniffed it out, and Hemingway was tackled in the backfield for a loss

Michigan Strikes First

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- After defensive end Brandon Graham forced an Anthony Morelli fumble on Penn State's second drive of the game, linebacker Chris Graham returned the fumble to the Nittany Lion 10 yard line. After an unsuccessful swing pass to Mario Manningham, Michigan uncharacteristically tried to pass once more. Not finding any open receivers, quarterback Ryan Mallett pulled the ball down and made it to the corner of the end zone, holding the ball out in front of him as he crossed the plane. Michigan leads, 7-0.

Henne In Street Clothes

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- As reported earlier, Chad Henne won't be playing today. According to ESPN's Bonnie Bernstein, Henne asked the coaches to play, but they would not let him. He walked out of the tunnel after the team, wearing street clothes and a brace on his right leg.

Michigan-Penn State: Pregame Thoughts

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan and Penn State will each open their Big Ten seasons here today at the Big House, and while the fortunes have turned for one pre-season favorite, the other still has thoughts of a BCS bid. Michigan, picked by most prognosticators to win the Big Ten and contend for the National Championship before the season, opened with two early losses, including one to FCS Appalachian State. Penn State has dominated its competition, winning each of its three games by at least 21 points (although against some iffy competition. So who's going to take the early lead in the Big Ten?

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September 08, 2007

Nittany Lions Dominate In Happy Valley

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Beaver Stadium was being referred to as the "White House" and if we continue with that theme then on Saturday night Penn State linebacker Dan Connor was the Commander in Chief.
Connor anchored a stingy Penn State defense that led the Nittany Lions to an impressive 31-10 victory over Notre Dame in front of 110,078 fans, the vast majority of which were wearing white.

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Insult To Injury

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Today was not Jimmy Clausen's best day. He orchestrated a successful drive late in the fourth quarter but threw an interception in the endzone to stall the drive. Penn State's Justin King secured the interception. There is under six minutes to go in the game.

Fans Pack the "White House"

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Today's attendance was announced as 110,078, the second largest crowd in Beaver Stadium history. The vast majority of the energetic crowd wore white to the game.

Icing On The Cake

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Penn State adds to its lead with an Austin Scott touchdown run that culminated a 10-play drive. The Nittany Lions now have a commanding 31-10 lead with 7:40 remaining. There is little hope for Jimmy Clausen and Notre Dame.

Price Is Right

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Geoff Price, Notre Dame's punter, is becoming a familiar face for the Beaver Stadium crowd. Notre Dame goes three and out again and Price came on to punt for the ninth time tonight. The Irish have shown no ability to move the ball on the Nittany Lions whatsoever.

End Of The Third

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Time is running out for the Irish. They start the fourth quarter down 24-10 and Penn State has the ball in Notre Dame territory.

Starting To Pull Away

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - A 1-yard touchdown leap by Austin Scott gives Penn State its biggest lead of the game. The Nittany Lions now lead 24-10 with 4:47 remaining in the third quarter. The touchdown was set up by a beautiful 51-yard pass completion from Anthony Morelli to receiver Chris Bell. It is still early but the way Notre Dame has been struggling on offense, this 14-point lead may be insurmountable.

Irish Settle For Three

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Notre Dame's offensive woes continue. Given amazing field position the Fighting Irish could only muster a field goal. Penn State now leads 17-10 with 8:16 left in the third quarter.

Back In The Game

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Just like that Notre Dame has a glimmer of hope. Punt returner Tom Zbikowski, who has already forced two fumbles today, returned a Penn State punt to the Penn State 7-yard line. Can Clausen and Notre Dame capitalize?

Nothing Doin'

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Notre Dame is stuck in reverse. The Fighting Irish could not answer Penn State and for the seventh time tonight were forced to punt. Once again, Notre Dame went three and out.

Jump Start

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - The Nittany Lions quickly added to their lead with a 37-yard field goal by Kevin Kelly with 13:13 left in the third qaurter to give Penn State a 17-7 lead. The field goal was set up by speedy kick returner A.J. Wallace who returned the kickoff 68 yards, much to the liking of the Penn State crowd. Notre Dame will have to get busy if it wants to come back against Penn State.

14-7 At Half

For the first time tonight the rowdy Penn State student section can sit down - because it's halftime. They can relax happy knowing that their Nittany Lions have a 14-7 lead at halftime despite three turnovers.

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Dropping the Ball

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - For the third time tonight, Penn State has turned the ball over. This time Anthony Morelli fumbled and gave Notre Dame the ball at Penn State's 44-yard line. The Penn State defense has forced Notre Dame to go three and out twice in a row and Clausen has been constantly pressured in the pocket.

Lions Take The Lead

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Penn State takes the lead with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Anthony Morelli to Jordan Norwood. Kevin Kelly kicked the extra point to make it a 14-7 Nittany Lion lead with 6:37 left in the half. Morelli and the Penn State offense seem to have relaxed and settled into a groove. Can Jimmy Clausen and Fighting Irish answer?

Pick Six

STATE COLLEGE, Penn - The Irish strike first. Notre Dame cornerback Darrin Walls returned an Anthony Morelli interception for a touchdown with 8:23 left in the first quarter. The Fighting Irish steal momentum and take a 7-0 lead. Prior to the touchdown, Notre Dame got the ball first and drove down the field with ease but kicker Nate Whitaker missed a 50-yard field goal. Quarterback Jimmy Clausen looked steady in his first drive and completed five passes but they were all of the screen variety and he never looked down the field. The Beaver Stadium crowd contributed to a false start call on the first play of the drive.

Penn State-Notre Dame Preview

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - We are about 15 minutes from kickoff in Happy Valley and there is a truly electric atmosphere inside and outside of Beaver Stadium. A raucous crowd of well over 100,000 fans is expected and legions of Penn State fans wearing white for the "white out" of Beaver Stadium have already begun to take their seats and cheer. The hostile atmosphere does not bode well for Notre Dame's true freshman quarterback Jimmy Clausen, who is making his first career start. The venue couldn't be much tougher for Clausen and he will also have to deal with Dan Connor, Justin King and a tough Penn State defense.

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