So, for the second year in a row I will be participating in a PSU prediction pool with a couple close friends of mine. Last year marked my first year participating in this prestigious pool (which apparently had been going on for several years) and I waltzed right in and won the damn thing, sparking jealously amongst my friends. Now, I’m back to defend my title and it all starts in less than 24 hours. I’m more wired up right now than Larry Craig in a bathroom stall.
Just a brief background on how the rules work for this pool: You go through each of the 12 games PSU plays this year and predict either a win or a loss and then the final score. You get one point for each correct pick plus you get an additional point if the average differential between the predicted scores and final scores of PSU and its opponent are 7 points or less (applies to correct picks only). For example: I’m predicting PSU will beat FIU 41-10. Let’s say the final score ends up being 45-7 PSU. So, that’s a 4-point difference between PSU’s predicted and final scores and a 3-point difference between FIU’s. Add 4 and 3 together and divide by 2 and you get an average 3.5 points differential between the predicted and final scores (and by now, you might be as confused as Dan Patrick and Kenny Mayne explaining the format of the Denslow Cup in “BASEketball”). After you finish picking the regular season games, you also have to pick which bowl PSU will end up in, who the opponent will be, and whether we will win or lose the bowl game, one point is awarded for each correct answer. Last but not least, you pick a national champion for one point, no score prediction necessary.
Now, without further ado…I present to you my game-by-game predictions:
Florida International: I think the proverbial dead horse has been beaten 100 times over by other PSU fans. This is a shit-tastic team that has nowhere to go but up, they finished ranked 119th out of 119 teams, and while the defense was half-decent before the infamous brawl with Miami (which will be their last bit of national TV exposure for a while unless new head coach Mario Cristobal goes Tony Montana on somebody), their offense was horrendous finishing exactly or close to dead last in total offense, run offense, and scoring offense. The only way these guys will reach the end zone is if the fourth string defense is in or if the NCAA decides to unleash its experimental “10-player mercy rule” after PSU scores the first several touchdowns. PSU 41-10
Notre Dame: A lot of fans are talking about how badly we are going beat them and how Charlie Weis is going to suffer total pwnage courtesy of Tom Bradley and the PSU defense, does anyone remember what all that talk led up to last year? The biggest differences of course between last year and this year are that the game is in Beaver Stadium and Notre Dame lost its entire offense, meaning this will be the first road game for whichever QB Charlie Weis secretly has waiting in the works. Also, it’s going to take more than a year for the new defensive coordinator to turn around ND’s defensive fortunes. Nonetheless, I think ND will surprise us by hanging around for 3 quarters before running out of steam. PSU 31-17
Frivolous lawsuits aren’t the only thing Charlie Weis will be losing this season
Buffalo: See: Florida International. On a bright note for Buffalo, they did actually win a game last year…against a certain PA team on our schedule. PSU 45-3
At Michigan: After predicting us to win last year, only to be disappointed once again, I told myself I would not pick PSU to win this game again until we actually follow through with one. I stand by my word. MICHIGAN 24-21
At Illinois: From all the hype the Illini are getting, one might think that Juice Williams and Arrelious Benn could be the second coming of Montana and Rice. Now, if only Juice can get better at throwing the damn ball…PSU 34-17
Iowa: First meeting with the Hawkeyes since the 6-4 cripple fight (which I can easily say was the worst game at Beaver Stadium I’ve ever been to). A lot has changed since then, as we’ve been on the upswing while they’ve dropped somewhat. Call me crazy, but I’m feeling a Minnesota 2005-like ass-whipping is in store here. Years of frustration for failing to beat Iowa this century will be let loose in Beaver Stadium come October 6. PSU 35-14
Wisconsin: A lot of experts are gung-ho about Wisconsin being the team to beat in the Big Ten, along with Michigan. While they will be breaking in a new QB, they return 9 others starters on offense, including mammoth tailback P.J. Hill. The defense should also be solid as usual with a couple of solid linebackers in Jonathan Casillas and DeAndre Levy leading the way. So, on paper it’s hard not to like the Badgers as a favorite to win the conference. If this game were in Madison, I’d pick the Badgers to win this. However, I like our home field advantage a little too much and think that along with some solid play by our offense and key stops by the defense will lead to us prevailing in what will be a higher-scoring-than-expected contest. PSU 28-24
At Indiana: What was once an off season full of hope has quickly diminished to one of salvation with the death of head coach Terry Hoeppner. Bill Lynch has a monumental task ahead of him, trying to make sure the Hoosiers don’t go down the path of Northwestern last year following the untimely death of their coach, Randy Walker. QB Kellen Lewis and 6’7” WR James Hardy may get an early score or two, but the PSU defense will adjust rather quickly and go on to win in blowout fashion. PSU 41-17
Ohio State: I’m not as worried about this game as I probably should be. Could be perhaps because the visiting team has only won twice since PSU and OSU started playing each other on a yearly basis in 1993? Could it also be because in the two years the visiting team won (OSU in 1995 and 2003) they still needed a last-minute TD to avoid a loss? How about the fact that OSU in 1995 and 2003 had clearly superior teams than us on paper? Add 2 and 2 and 2 together and what do you get? PSU 17-13
Purdue: Even less worried about this one, Purdue’s only beaten us twice and both those victories came during the “Dark Years” (2000-2004). Heck, we even beat them once during the Dark Years. The only question that begs to be answered here is: how many INTs will Curtis Painter throw on our secondary? PSU 28-10
Temple: This is not your older brother’s Temple team…or is it? PSU 52-7
At Michigan State: Mark Dantonio brings a “no-nonsense, back-to-the-basics, three yards and a cloud of dust” style of game to East Lansing. MSU will be turning back the clock ten years to when every Big Ten team (save Purdue) played this style of football. The only problem is, he’s inherited a team that’s not fit for his style of play (and a pretty bad team at that). The video below is a nice little highlight reel from last season to show you the kind of pickle Mark D’s gotten himself into, don’t expect his first game against PSU to go as well as his predecessor’s did. PSU 31-13
So that puts our regular season record at 11-1 if everything on here holds true to form. As for the postseason, I’m saying we end up winning the Orange Bowl against Virginia Tech and USC will go on to beat Michigan in the BCS Championship game.
Alright, I’m spent. Hopefully those unfortunate few of you who don’t have the Big Ten Network find a nice sports bar to watch tomorrow’s game at.