Friday, August 07, 2009

A Final Word on PSU’s Schedule

A lot has been said about Penn State's weak schedule lately because, well, there's nothing to really talk about until practice starts Monday. I've beat on the Athletic department for the weak schedule for some time, you could see it coming, that's why I gave up my season tickets several years ago. I simply wasn't dropping a grand for two tickets to see teams like Akron, Temple, Syracuse and Eastern Illinois (or any directional U for that matter). That money can be well spent elsewhere.

While most people, like me, believe that a wet tissue paper soft schedule is a bad thing, not only for entertainment value but also for PSU's chances to make it to the BCS championship, some think otherwise.

In fact, that crappy schedule of Akron, Temple, Syracuse and Eastern Illinois is more likely to help the Lions secure a Jan. 7 date in the BCS national championship game than hurt.

Computers and schedule strength are not much of a factor in the BCS system anymore. Certainly nowhere near what they are in the NCAA basketball tournament selection process.

The dominant factor is now voters. Where pollsters a few years ago accounted for only 25 percent of the BCS grade, now it's 67 percent.

These pollsters have shown recently that they believe an undefeated team with a sketchy nonconference schedule is still an undefeated team. If Penn State manages to skate through its Big Ten schedule unscathed, it's highly unlikely that any one-loss team will be voted ahead of it. And an unbeaten non-BCS team such as Boise State or Brigham Young? No chance.

Three unbeatens of which Penn State is one? That's a different story.

How can you not love Dave Jones he's not only wrong most of the time but he's usually does it in magnificent fashion.

Let's just say for the sake of argument that Penn State does go undefeated (more on that later). Like Jones says if there are two more undefeated teams Penn State is out. If there is one other undefeated from the ACC, SEC, or Pac 10 and a one loss USC, Florida or team-that-beats-Florida-in-the-SEC-Championship-game, Penn State is also out. The pollsters love, love, love the SEC and USC and they hate everything from the Big Ten right now. So they will most certainly jump a one-loss team over Penn State in that instance (if they're even ranked ahead of them which may not be the case). So basically with PSU's weak schedule if the Nits go undefeated the only way they make it to the championship game is if they are the only undefeated or all non-undefeated teams in the SEC have two losses and USC has two losses. How is the weak schedule helping again? I think that scenario is HIGHLY unlikely to happen.

But again, Dave misses (or chooses to ignore) the most important thing about Penn State's shitty schedule: playing crappy teams doesn't get you ready to play the good teams on your schedule. The Steelers found this out in Super Bowl 30 when they lost to the Cowboys 27-17. Pittsburgh had an unusually soft schedule in a weak AFC that year and only had to beat an overmatched Buffalo team and Indy to make it to the Super Bowl. Not only was the AFC weak in general but Pittsburgh division was specifically feeble.

Before the game I told my Steelers buddies that Pittsburgh had not seen a team as fast and as powerful as the Cowboys and they would have to weather a storm until they adjust. As it turns out I was right, the Cowboys scored on their first three possessions to take a 13 – 0 lead before Pittsburgh finally broke through for a TD right before half. The rest of the game was pretty much a push, the Steelers got acclimated to the Cowboys level of play and the outcome would have been in more doubt had Neil O'Donnell not gift wrapped two game killing interceptions.

Now the Steelers had no choice in the matter they could only play the schedule given to them but Penn State does.

If we take a quick glance at the schedule we see that Penn State starts out with Akron, Syracuse, and Temple right before playing Iowa (the only team to beat PSU last year lest you forget). Do you think any of those three teams will have the skill position players that Iowa has? Temple may actually be somewhat decent-ish but Penn State would be better off playing a scrimmage than the other two. Those Nittany Lion defensive ends that everyone will be raving about after they wiz by the offensive lineman of the Zips, Orange, and Owls will be in for a huge awakening when they run into Bryan Bulaga. The secondary will not face a Ricky Stanzi in those first three games either and we all know the incredible fear Penn State fans feel about our secondary.

I'm not saying that Penn State will lose to Iowa I'm saying that I would feel a FAIL Boat-load better if Penn State actually played a team that had more than 5 wins last year in the first three games. We will have no idea how good Penn State is until the play Iowa, let's just hope we don't set ourselves up for a huge letdown.

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