The one we've been waiting for

Posted by mmq on November 23, 2009 

Well, it only took 12 games, but here was the complete game we've been waiting for.
Clark on fire? Check. Defense totally smothering the top ranked offense in the B10? Check. Quarless being a man among boys? Check. Special teams earning that first part of the word? Check (OK, not quite check, but pretty good nonetheless.).
Sure it was 7-7 at the half, but it didn't feel tied. It felt like a lot of pressure was building on Sparty and it was only a matter of time before the dam burst. (Sure it should've been 10/13-7. And that's the only down side really, and now we've got perhaps our biggest concern heading in to 2010.)
But back to the present. How nice was it to blast Sparty again? I can't help but think PSU has Sparty's number the way Iowa has ours. On the plus side for Sparty, Dantonio seems to have them on a better path. They beat the teams they should (CMU being an exception, but they likely win the MAC, so it's not total embarassment for them.), an usually compete with the big boys on the sched. But not PSU. Sure they won in 2007, but it took a big PSU collapse, and moronic play-calling at the end. Since the advent of the Land Grant Trophy, Sparty's only had it 4 times in 17 tries. It's not much of a rivalry, is it?
Anyway, it was great to see Clark and the offense clicking. Royster had another solid game, broke a couple of big runs. It's probably his next-to last effort in a bland uniform. (Is it just me, or did Royster look like he lost a step this year? I didn't see the burst from him this year that I did in 2008, especially in the Oregon State game?)
The O-line, after a shaky start, controlled the LOS in the last three quarters. Sparty had to blitz a lot, and Clark really made them pay a few times. The halftime score really could've been 17-7 had Zug made that catch on the next-to-last play of the half. You could tell he was looking to see if he had room to stop and pivot before he caught the ball, and that was one of precious few mistakes the Lions made. Wagner missed one he should've made, and just missed a 51 yarder. At least this time it wasn't short.
The defense really put a lot of pressure on the QB, and it really stifled Sparty's running game. Lee and Hull played awesome football, and Bowman was on another planet. he has speed that you rarely see at LB. Sparty couldn't even run away from him, as evidenced by a play in the 1Q when they ran to the short side (toward Lee, ha!) and Bowman caught the RB in the backfield before Lee even had the chance, and Bowman did it from way behind the play.
Finally, let's give some props to Boone. He punted 5 times and he dropped all 5 inside the 20. The ST, minus kicking FGs, probably had their best game of the year. Let's hope the 2010 bowl game continues the ST revival and builds mo for the fall.
As far as bowls and opponents, here's MMQ's take: No, PSU doesn't deserve a BCS bid over Iowa. Fortunately for PSU, there's nothing rational about the BCS. Anything can happen. JoePa's veiled but joking "Godfather" reference (he was joking, right?) was interesting. PSU brings more to the table for the Orange or Fiesta Bowls than Iowa. More fans, more TV ratings, a legend on the sidelines.
So, from a prestige perspective, MMQ would like to see PSU in Phoenix or Miami. The best scenario, perhaps, would be for PSU to land in New Orleans for a shot at Bama eight months before heading to Tuscaloosa. I'd like to see a high-ranked opponent. The SEC title game loser is likely Big-Easy bound, and TCU has to go (assuming it wins out). The Big East winner has to go somewhere, as does the GT-Clemson winner. Boise may get left out, but their schedule is weaker than PSU's. It would be nice to play TCU in the Fiesta, or Bama in the Sugar. If LSU hadn't crapped the bed, they would've been a great CapOne opponent in Orlando. But they did, and that matchup no longer would have as much sizzle as a 10-2 Tiger team would have had.
So, given how many times PSU has been scrood (take that, spelling censors!) over, it might be poetic justice that PSU gets a little payback and edges out the Hawkeyes for a BCS spot. Of course, if there's a few upsets down the road, maybe neither gets in.
But let's enjoy the win. It takes the focus off of PSU's ticket plan, supposedly being rolled out this week. I wonder if the athletic department told the football department that a big win was needed to roll this scheme out on a positive note. Plenty of questions remain unanswered. Perhaps some will get asked this week.

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