Friday, December 15, 2006

Volunteer Roundtable

We have been invited to partake in a Penn State-Tennessee roundtable discussion by Andy over at Corn from a Jar (Tennessee blog). Either Tennessee bloggers have finally caught wind of my brilliant blogging skills, or they are just looking for a PSU opinion. I’ll assume the former because I’m an egomaniac. As they say on MXC… Let’s get it on…

Outback Bowl Roundtable #1
1) Rose, Sugar, Orange ... Outback? While it is certainly the premier steakhouse-themed bowl, the game in Tampa is probably not most teams' pre-season goal. That being said, as a Penn State fan and blogger, on a scale from crushing disappointment to overwhelming glee, what is your reaction to playing in this game? Also, what is the fan base at large's feeling about accepting a bowl bid that comes with a side of bloomin' onion?

First off, let’s not poo-poo steakhouse-themed bowl games, there should be more of them. They certainly far surpass San Diego County Credit Union – themed bowls, and who doesn’t like a thick juicy steak every now and then, but I digress. Personally, I fall somewhere in the middle of the satisfaction scale. At the beginning of the Season, I looked at three games (Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Michigan) as barometers for this year’s Nittany Lions and thought Penn State should win 1 and could possibly win 2. As is usually the case, I was wrong and they lost all three and another. All four losses were to ranked opponents but that doesn’t make it any easier in my mind, in three of those games they played like utter garbage. If your team plays it’s best and the other guy beats you, you tip your hat and move on, but Penn State certainly didn’t play it’s best this year.

As far as the feelings of Nittany Nation well, we are a bipolar bunch, there usually isn’t any middle ground. I think I’ve done a good job of graphically representing this with my Penn State Football fan panic level rating.

I would say that fans are at a yellow or “Elevated” level of panic where many are already writing off next season because of poor coaching, and horrible quarterback development (not my words). These feelings will probably wane in the off-season and fans will come to the annual spring game with new found arrogance - such is the life of a Penn State fan.

2) Tennessee and Penn State last played in the Citrus Bowl following the 1993 season. Since then, both teams have had an undefeated season and both teams have had at least one losing season. Where is your program now as opposed to where it was then? Are things better, worse, or about the same as when these two teams last played? Not looking for a summary of the last 13 years, but rather an overall feeling of the program now compared to then.

Yes both had undefeated seasons but Tennessee was rewarded with a national championship and the Nittany Lions were screwed by the media – anger rising, must not break things – serenity now! serenity now!

Anyway, 1993 started PSU’s glorious trek into the Big Ten and in just their second year they won the league championship giving PSU fans an over inflated ego. Penn State never lost more then 3 games in the 90’s but things changed at the turn of the millennium and the “dark times” when PSU had 4 loosing seasons in 5 years. In 1993 there was a lot of optimism going into the Big Ten but many fans have changed their tune since then. Michigan has beaten Penn State 8 times (I think it’s 8, I’ve lost count) in a row and PSU has no rival on it’s schedule. Many are questioning the move at this point and many are questioning the current coaching abilities of one Joseph Vincent Paterno. There is some optimism with Penn State’s second Big Ten Championship last season and some kick-ass recruiting classes the past couple years, but it’s hard to find overly confident Penn State fans anymore.

3) Now that we know how you feel about your own program, let's look at the other side of the coin. As a Penn State fan, what do you think of when you hear "Volunteers"? Does this opponent strike fear in you heart, or barely cause a blip on the radar?

To be completely honest, I thought Tennessee was a better matchup then Auburn for Penn State. I certainly wasn’t balled up in the fetal position in a corner of the room when I heard the official announcement, but I’m not betting the farm on a Lions victory either. It wouldn’t surprise me if Penn State turned the ball over and got torched like they did against Notre Dame, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it was a nail-biter either. I would be shocked if Penn State can put more then 17 points on the board - shocked!

If Penn State can run the ball and keep hold of it, they can rely on their defense to keep it close. Defensively, Penn State is ranked 23rd in the nation in rushing yards per game, 11th in points per game, and 16th in total yards per game. Penn State was able to hold Ohio State’s powerful offense to 14 points and Michigan’s to 17, but they only scored 16 total in those two games. Tennessee has the 94th ranked rushing attack and 71st rushing defense. Penn State relies heavily on Tony Hunt who has 1228 total yards and 11 touchdowns running behind one of the worst offensive lines in Div I. If Penn State can run the ball they will have a chance but the real test will be the Vol’s 13th ranked passing offense against Penn State’s 47th ranked passing defense.

There are my answers, feel free to add your opinion in the comment section below (where’s Coach?) Head on over to Corn from a Jar for some friendly trash-talking or not so friendly; whatever floats your boat. Hopefully, Run Up The Score and Black Shoe Diaries will participate as well. Be sure to check out the two responses at AOL's Fanhouse.

No comments: