It was a sad day for Penn State on Saturday.
Though the Illini-Nits game should have been one of the better Big Ten battles on the schedule for the week, it was relegated to a 12 p.m. kickoff. That meant the homecoming game parade crept through Happy Valley in the pre-dawn hours before the sun had risen.
Turns out, that parade in the darkness was the brightest point of the day for Penn State. Because just a little over two minutes into the game, it was obvious these weren’t your grandfather’s Nits.
It was also obvious, the Illini had no intention of making use of the nine points they were getting from oddsmakers.
On Illinois’ first drive of the game, the Illini went for it on fourth-and-1 from their 30-yard line and got it. Easier than plucking Chilean miners from the ground in a tin can.
Everybody who laid PSU and the points that day might as well have ripped up their tickets and changed the channel (There was a joke this week in the Allentown Morning Call that the Bye was laying 3.5 against Penn State this week).
"We stunk," JoePa said simply after the game. And he was right.
But let’s not take too much away from Illinois. The Illini rolled into that game like it was their BCS championship and bowled over the Nits for 282 yards on the ground. Their defense held a hapless Penn State offense scoreless in the first half and handed them their worst homecoming beating since the 50s, winning 33-13.
It was the first win for Illinois at Beaver Stadium in seven visits and coach Ron Zook said his team had been talking about it all week.
Now the Illini must somehow try to pretend that game was as meaningful as a Justin Bieber Tweet and come up with a new game plan as they get set to face undefeated Michigan State.
They can be sure a Sparty defense, that only allows 111 rushing yards per game, isn’t going to be the same Swiss cheese Illinois faced last week.
"We haven't accomplished anything yet," Zook said Tuesday. "It's very important that you know your opponent, but we have to take care of us."
Sounds to me like a coach trying to talk his team out of a letdown.
On the other hand, you can make a pretty good letdown case for MSU. You always can. It’s Sparty.
It’s the game after coach Mike Dantonio returned from his heart attack. The game after beating up Michigan. And they’re undefeated. Gotta throw one away sometime, right?
I don’t know. This Spartan team feels a little different this year. I think they have too many weapons on offense and the defense will do enough to slow the run against Illinois. The Illini special teams have been a concern too, where they rank 116th in punt returns. Michigan State ranks eighth.
So I’m jumping on the Sparty train this week and hoping for their fourth cover in a row. Toot toot.
I went 4-0 last week and finally ended the streak of juicing out. I’m now 15-8-1 on the season. (I had previously written I went 3-1 last week, but a reader correctly pointed out the the Temple-Northern Illinois game fell under the number by a half point.)Pick:
Michigan StateTexas vs. Nebraska (-9.5, 46.5)
As far as Brasky pants is concerned, everything it has done to this point in the season was just a formality. I won’t re-hash all the details because The Wiz
already wrote a great column
on it this week that does it better than I could.
Check it out and then pick the Corn. Pick:
Nebraska -9.5UNLV vs. Colorado State (-3.5, 51)
This might just be the worst game of the season. These two squads are 1-5 and have lost by some numbers that barely fit on the scoreboard.
UNLV comes into this one with an injury list so long, we had to hire an extra staffer to complete it on our matchup page. That list includes a suspension to the team’s top receiver, Philip Payne, for Tweeting something along the lines that his coaches suck.
So obviously, I’m on UNLV in this one. Because that’s what you do in crap games. You take the team in the crappiest situation and you ride it like a Ferris wheel.
This one is practically a guarantee. Pick:
UNLV +3.5 Air Force vs. San Diego State (+1.5, 53.5)
One thing that works well in college football is its replay system.
Replay calls are made in the booth, not by officials on the field like in the NFL. They also take an average of about 90 seconds, compared to about 90 minutes in every other major North American sport.
And they get it right, most of the time.
This past Saturday, in San Diego State’s game against BYU, was one of the times they got it wrong.
The three-man replay crew failed to overturn a coach’s challenge by San Diego State that BYU running back J.J. Di Luigi fumbled late in the third quarter and lost the ball. BYU was ahead 17-14 at the time and went on to score a touchdown on the drive. It turned out to be the winning score in a 24-21 Cougars win.
You can check out it out here
. The play in question begins at about the 1 minute 45 second mark of the video.
Turns out two of the replay crew had ties to BYU. One is an alum and the other is a BYU employee. All three were suspended by the Mountain West Conference this week and the ADs are meeting about it.
If this were an SEC game, this would have been the biggest story of the week. But since it was Aztecs-Cougars, you may not have even heard about it.
As you can guess, San Diego State is pissed. The Aztecs were rolling happily along on an upswing 3-1 season until this debacle occurred.
In BYU’s defense, the Aztecs probably played their worst game of the season last week against a struggling opponent on the road. Don’t expect the same this week against a recent Top 25 squad that has pounded them in each of the past three seasons. Pick:
San Diego State