Blue-White Roundtable: Regular Season Finale

I realize I have not answered the Blue-White Roundtable questions for the past couple weeks but rest assured, it wasn’t because one of the following bloggers I have linked below complained about it. I have simply been bogged down lately with school work, mainly a legal memorandum that required hours upon hours of research in the library and reading cases (I know, sounds like a blast doesn’t it?). Combine that with my growing apathy over this year’s team and my focus shifting more towards basketball, plus the fact that it takes me long enough to put together my Big Ten Power Rankings, which are all the rage amongst Iowa sports fans these days, and there’s no room for a roundtable.

However, since I’m now on my Thanksgiving break and thus have a little bit of free time on my hands and because it’s likely the last roundtable until the bowl game, I’m going to jump back on the bandwagon.

Before we move on though, I just want to thank the following bloggers for coming up with the questions this year for me to mooch from.

Run Up The Score

Black Shoe Diaries

The Nittany Line

There Is No Name On My Jersey

The Nittany Notebook

William Yurasko

Also thanks to RUTS for this week’s questions

1. It’ll be a week of criticism, so let’s at least start off on a positive note. Name three players who have vastly exceeded your pre-season expectations.

Evan Royster – Even though I had read/heard about how good this kid was, I figured he would see little to no PT with Austin Scott and Rodney Kinlaw getting all the carries, even when it became obvious he was a viable option tailback. However, after Scott’s little fallout, Royster made the most out of his golden opportunity to step up and be the man. Most importantly though, how could anybody have predicted at the beginning of the year that the name “Rodan Kinster” would enter into every PSU blogger’s vocabulary by the end of this year?

Jordan Norwood – Short, and not the most bulky of the receivers, but goddamn is he quick and has great hands. I’m trying to think of the last time I saw him drop a pass that was thrown within reasonable grasp.

The O-Line – I’m gonna be straight-up honest with you: When it comes to offensive and defensive lines I have an extremely hard time following who is in the game at which moments. I have to have a lineman’s number memorized in order to tell if he’s in the game or on the bench. So with that being said, here’s to all the O-linemen that helped bring life to what has long been our achilles’ heel!

2. At what point on Saturday did you think that Penn State might be in serious, serious trouble?

I was getting a little worried when they cut our lead down to 24-21, but figured that:

A. We had a solid ground game

B. They’re Michigan State

So, I wasn’t overtly concerned, especially when Brian Hoyer fumbled the snap that set up our scoring drive which put us up 31-21. However, when Kevin Kelly subsequently kicked off to MSU’s fullback who ended up returning the ball to our 40-yard line and MSU scored 4 short plays later to cut the lead back to 3 points, that’s when the thoughts of a choke job started to enter my mind.

3. What is your explanation for the four consecutive passes that effectively ended Penn State’s comeback attempt? What strategy do you think the coaches were going for?

I can’t even *think* of a viable explanation for this. Apparently, JayPa had some lame excuse along the lines of “We didn’t have enough time to keep running.” Are you serious? We had 1:50 left and 2 timeouts, that’s more than enough time to keep running the damn ball with Carter at least a couple more times, it didn’t seem as if Sparty was suddenly going to figure out how to shut him down.
4. What are your thoughts on a contract extension for Joe Paterno? His current contract expires after the 2008 season. Do you think he’ll head into that season with his contract status undetermined?

Personally, I feel 2008 should be JoePa’s long-overdue swan song, he should’ve been out after 2004, if not before then. 2005 was the best time for him to go out though, as a winner and on top of the Big Ten for once.

As for what will actually transpire: I’ve heard stories about how Spanier and Curley sat down with Rene Portland before last year’s women’s basketball season started and basically told her that it would be her last but that she would simply announce her resignation at the end of the season as if she voluntarily chose to do so. Granted, this will be very difficult to accomplish with Joe since he’s far more established than Rene and he’s not being accused of homophobia. However, I could see Spanier/Curley trying to work out some sort of under-the-table retirement deal.


Lightning Round

Which potential bowl opponents are the best and worst possible matchups for Penn State in the Alamo or Champs Sports Bowl?

I haven’t done much looking around regarding different sports site’s bowl predictions but according to RUTS it seems a good number of them have us going to the Champs Sports Bowl against Clemson or BC. Either opponent would mark a long night for the defense as both teams have QB/receiving corps that can light it up. The thought of a Paterno-Junior Bowden showdown does intrigue me though.

In terms of favorable matchups: I’d say Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl. That way, there’d at least be a .000001 % of a chance that JoePa will come out during the post-game press conference and blurt out: “COME AFTER ME!!! I’M TWICE THE MAN COACH GUNDY IS, I’M 80!!!”

Who is going to sneak into the BCS Championship game?

I’m going to have some fun with this one: The SEC is such a rough conference with everyone beating up on each other. Don’t rule out Georgia pulling the upset over LSU in the SEC title game, paving the way for Missouri to climb into one of the Top 2 spots after beating Kansas this Saturday and then winning the grudge match against Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship. The only team left to stop West Virginia is UConn but Uconn has to travel to Morgantown so I don’t like their chances there, and Pitt will continue to be the Mountaineers’ whipping boys.

So to recap: Missouri v. West Virginia in the BCS Championship

Finally, which 2007 Penn State loss was the most difficult to swallow?

Ohio State was a difficult one to take, even though they were clearly the better team because we had never lost to the Buckeyes at home by more than a field goal, let alone by double figures. Illinois was fist-pounding-the-table frustrating because they seemed to give us the best possible starting field positions and we couldn’t do squat with it. Michigan State last week had me practically going ape shit as there was no excuse for blowing a 17-point lead to a team that had a reputation for doing so themselves.

However, I’m going to have to say Michigan was the toughest loss for me to watch. There was absolutely NO EXCUSE for losing that game. Michigan was a disgustingly mediocre team that was very vulnerable to teams that spread the field, and it seemed we had a gameplan devised to do just that or something similar when JoePa in all his glory, scrapped that plan and went back to the good ol’ gameplan that had lost him the previous 8 meetings. Barring a miracle next year, look for Michigan to make it 10 in a row against us at the Beav on homecoming weekend, sparking a whole new list of creative chants for Michigan fans to use against us.


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