Penn State is off to a 7-1 start and around the nation the college football world seems to be surprised by the start. Should they be?
When the season got underway things looked to be pretty favorable leading up to this point in the season with the schedule. Other than Alabama, Penn State was expected to pick up wins against FCS Indiana State, Eastern Michigan and Indiana. Joe Paterno has never lost to Temple so the trend against the Owls appeared to be very favorable. Purdue is a team that is still a few steps away from being a legitimate threat in the Big Ten so a win against the Boilermakers should have come as no surprise. The biggest question mark may have been the Iowa game but Penn State’s defense flexed their muscle in that one. And this past weekend’s game at Northwestern may have been considered by some to be a wild card, but certainly not an expected loss, when the season started.
Penn State’s defense is allowing 13.1 points per game this season, and that is after giving up 24 points to Northwestern. Running back Silas Redd has taken the lead in the Big Ten in rushing, proving that he is one his way to becoming a household name as I suspected he would as the season progressed.
Did You Know?
The last time Penn State was 7-1 was in 2005. Michael Robinson, Paul Posluszny and Penn State clinched the Big Ten’s automatic BCS bid and defeated Florida State in the Orange Bowl. Their only loss of the season was to Michigan.
Penn State was also 7-1 in 1982. They were ranked #8 in the AP poll and their only loss of the season was to Alabama. Penn State finished the season 11-1, defeating Georgia in the Sugar Bowl to win Penn State’s first national championship.
The quarterback situation has been a bit of a messy situation, this cannot be argued, so perhaps this is why Penn State’s 7-1 record is deemed a surprise.
The truth is we are about to find out a whole lot about the character and potential of this team over the next month, starting this week against Illinois. Penn State was embarrassed by Illinois last season in a game Joe Paterno still recalls as one of the worst of his career. The Illini showed no signs of intimidation from the start of last season’s homecoming game, going for it on fourth and short on their own side of the field early in the game and roughing up the Nittany Lions to the tune of 33-13. After this weekend’s match-up Penn State heads in to the bye week. Getting there at 8-1 would put Penn State in great position in November, with three games to play at home against Nebraska and on the road at Ohio State and Wisconsin. As it stands now, Penn State is in front of the pack and everyone else is catching up to them following Wisconsin’s Hail Mary loss at Michigan State.
The team seems to be focused on the mission at hand right now, but checking the tweets following Saturday’s win in Evanston shows that they are out to silence the critics and prove the doubters wrong. Even at 7-1 few people are placing faith in Penn State. Will they hop on board if Penn State picks up a win this weekend to improve to 8-1, and 5-0 in Big Ten play?
Wide receiver Derek Moye is listed as “possible” on the Penn State depth chart this weekend. Moye has been out since breaking his foot a few weeks ago.
Quarterback Matt McGloin is listed first on the depth chart this week, but the official depth chart also says “OR Rob Bolden” at quarterback. McGloin played the entire game against Northwestern but Paterno never said that a final decision had been made when asked about it in post-game. McGloin should be expected to start this weekend.
Illinois got off to a 6-0 record this season but the Illini have dropped two straight games in Big Ten Leaders Division play, to Ohio State and Purdue. Ron Zook is telling his team to refocus and the team feels they can still reach the Big Ten championship game with games against Penn State and Wisconsin left on their schedule.
No Penn State players were named semi-finalists for the Davey O’Brien Award (best quarterback) or Dick Butkuss Award (best linebacker). Todd Blackledge (1982) and Kerry Collins (1994) are previous Davey O’Brien Award winners. LaVar Arrington (1999) and Paul Posluszny (2005) are previous Dick Butkus Award winners.
Speaking of Posluszny, the former Nittany Lion standout recorded four tackles for Jacksonville as the Jaguars shutdown the Baltimore Ravens offense in a 12-7 Monday Night Football slugfest.
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