So I intended to have these predictions up last night but things took a detour after I left the library and I ended up going out for a couple brewskies and by the time I got back, was too tired to write anything. So, here it is now, my longest take on any PSU game thus far plus an abbreviated version of my predictions for other games.
#1 Ohio State (-3.5) at #24 Penn State – The Buckeyes are a team that is clicking on all cylinders at just the right time which is a scary prospect for us, especially considering the devastating losses of Jared Odrick defensively and Matt Hahn on offense. Rodney Kinlaw and Evan Royster will really need to bring their A+++ game and by that, I mean absolutely NO TURNOVERS. Plus, they (Kinlaw/Royster) need to be able to pound some good, solid 5-6 yard carries because they are not going to be breaking away for huge gains very often. Morelli also needs to play the most efficient game of his career, he needs to be smart with his decision-making and he has to be able to scan the field well enough to find that rare open receiver who could produce a potential gamebreaking play.
Defensively, PSU’s deep but injury-riddled D-line will no doubt be ready for a real battle in the trenches and Connor and Lee will be their usual awesome selves. It’s the secondary that worries me the most, to be honest with you. Justin King has looked pretty human his last few games, giving up several big pass plays and displaying poor tackling, he needs to put together a performance similar to what he had last year at OSU. Brian Robiskie and Ray Small may not be the flashiest receivers OSU’s had (see: Terry Glenn, Michael Jenkins, and Ted Ginn) but they are still dangerous nonetheless.
The “D” also needs to garner a key turnover or two that sets up a short field for the offense. I can’t emphasize enough just how absolutely critical this is…It made all the difference against OSU two years ago when Calvin Lowry returned an interception to the Buckeyes’ 2-yard line that set up Michael Robinson’s TD run which put us up 14-3 en route to a 17-10 win.
Special teams will play a key role as well in what is bound to be a low-scoring defensive struggle. Kevin Kelly is going to be called upon a few times for some clutch FGs and either AJ Wallace and Derrick Williams I feel need to break a big return to help us out in the uber-critical field position battle.
Last but not least of course, the intangibles. The White-Out will be there in full force, ready to re-create the magic of 2005. Sure, Todd Boeckman’s a very solid, poised QB but tonight will mark his first true road test. If he can string together a solid game and keep the turnovers to a minimum, then perhaps OSU is for real. And to those of you predicting a blowout win for OSU, allow me to remind you that OSU is 2-5 in Beaver Stadium since 1993 and in those two wins the Buckeyes needed last-minute TDs to avoid losing. This will be an extremely tight ballgame, a pure Big Ten defensive struggle. First team to double-digits wins. I think OSU is up for the challenge BUT…I just can’t go against PSU at home at night with the White-Out. PSU 17-13
#6 West Virginia (-6) at #25 Rutgers – Rutgers blew a golden chance last year at a BCS berth in 3 OTs down in Morgantown. Unfortunately, I don’t quite see them extracting revenge. WVU’s offense seems to be clicking on all cylinders again, and that’s bad news for the Scarlet Knights’ D. WVU 31-28
#9 USC (+3) at #5 Oregon – Shocker in Autzen Stadium, Ducks lose to a rejuvenated USC still riding high after a much-needed blowout win at Notre Dame. USC 38-31
Nebraska (+20.5) at #17 Texas – Nebraska’s D-coordinator Kevin Cosgrove removed his defensive players’ “Black shirts” after several shitty performances in a row. About a month from now, Cosgrove (along with his head coaching buddy, Bill Callahan) will be getting his job removed by Dr. Tom Osborne for being a shitty defensive coach. Tejas 45-10
#9 Florida (-8.5) vs. #20 Georgia – UGA’s had two weeks to prepare for this…but I just can’t go against Tim Tebow and Co. Plus, this is being played on a neutral field in Florida. Florida 24-21
#18 Cal (+3) at #7 Arizona St. – The tumble down the rabbit hole continues for Cal, as they have to face an Arizona State team that’s on a roll. ASU QB Rudy Carpenter will slowly continue to become a household name. ASU 31-21