That's right people, just remember there's no noise in Illinois. This week's questions brought to you by Penn State Clips. Make sure to check in PSC tomorrow for the roundup, and as always check out the answers from the growing posse of B&W Roundtable bloggers.
1) The BCS Championship Game dream is dead, but Penn State can still go to the Rose Bowl (at least in theory). What's your best guess about our final record and bowl destination?
Good God as I said earlier this week, I just have no idea what to think of this team. Can the offensive line come together and block anybody better than Syracuse? Is this the start of a tailspin for Daryll Clark? Can Evan Royster get an eye exam and find his lost vision? Looking at the reaming schedule I would have to say that Ohio State is a DEFINITE loss. Michigan is a tossup because it's in the Big House. If Michigan State starts rattling off wins they could be a tough out at the end of the season, especially if they are fighting for a bowl game. Minnesota, Indiana, and [Directional] Illinois are wins and if Penn State doesn't beat a down and out Illinois this week it's going to be a very, very long season. With that, I'll say PSU loses to OSU and one other random game for the simple fact that I just don't think this team can maintain a high level of play (what the Hell, they haven't reached a high level of play in four games). So that puts them at 9-3 and the [I don't give a crap] bowl against [who cares] University.
2) Illinois beat I-AA Illinois state, but sandwiched it with losses to Mizzou (37-9 in St. Louis) and at Ohio State (30-0). They have, by far, the worst pass offense in the Big Ten and their pass defense stinks as well. They put little pressure on the quarterback (1.3 sacks per game) and they do a lousy job in protecting the passer (3.33 sacks per game). In short, the Illini stink. Who rights the ship on Saturday, PSU or Illinois? Discuss.
PSU. The defense matches up well against an offense that is a self-proclaimed nightmare right now. As you stated in the question, they've managed a total of 9 points against the two teams with a real defense and Penn State has proven their D is not of the artificially flavored variety. If PSU can not-suck in special teams [read: punt the ball away and not give up back-breaking returns] it will be up to the offense to decide this thing. If Penn State's offense can handle the simple task of not turning the ball over then I think they win by more than a touchdown.
3) The Nittany Lions are 2-8 this decade in Big Ten openers and 3-6 in Big Ten road openers. (Obviously there's some overlap there.) The two wins in Big Ten openers were during the championship years of 2005 and 2008. What's the problem?
With all due respect going back before 2005 doesn't give us a clear picture because Penn State sucked against everyone then. So if you look at 2005 on, they have a record of 2-3 in Big Ten openers and two of those losses came against Ohio State and Michigan and obviously against Iowa this year. So is there a problem? I don't think so, when you play some of the better teams in the Big Ten for your first game you're going to lose your fair share. Especially when you play cupcakes before playing them (just thought I'd sneak that in).
4) Last week's blocked punt for an Iowa touchdown was the turning point in the game. Twice this decade a kickoff return touchdown has been critical in an Illinois victory over Penn State and the way things are going it could happen again Saturday. What's the problem with Penn State's "special" teams? Poor coaching? Lack of a dedicated special teams coach? Not getting our best athletes on the field?
Well the blocked punt was just a total missed assignment and not a lack of athleticism just a lack of execution, so whose fault is that? Did the coaches not spend enough time or is the wrong personnel on the field? Either way you want to answer it's a coaching problem. Paterno says that Collin Wagner has done a fantastic job kicking off even though they land roughly somewhere in between the 5 and 10 yard lines. JoePa says it's nice and high and lets the kick coverage teams get there. I find that kind of funny because that means one of two things: our return team is slow because the kick coverage is most certainly not there until the return man gets a head of steam and blocking or Paterno is covering for Wagner. In either case it points back to Personnel and that has to do with coaching.
The line is Penn State -7. Cover or no?
They haven't covered yet so that's a big fat NO.
Are you going to the game?
True or false: Chief Illiniwek was retired as the Illinois mascot after protests by members of the Illiniwek tribe
False – Chief Osceola is still the official mascot of Flor… oh, nevermind.
Will Chicago be awarded the 2016 Olympics on Friday?
You kidding, how can they turn down Obama?!?