Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunday 10/26 Quickie: Not Buying Penn St

Now THAT was a surreal World Series game: Latest start ever. That crazy bottom of the 9th. For all the talk about the Phillies' weak RISP, here's the reality: If you get the hit when it counts -- say, the game-winning walk-off infield dribbler with five infielders waiting for it -- who cares what happens the other times when runners are in scoring position? In a short series, the law of averages goes out the window.

Now, how do you feel about Penn State this morning?

If you are a "half-full" person (or Kirk Herbstreit), you give them all the credit in the world for winning in Columbus and stifling the Buckeyes offense.

If you are "half-empty," you are completely unimpressed with the Penn State "HD" offense -- sure, the OSU D is good, but USC didn't seem to have much trouble with it. And as for Penn State's dominating D, perhaps we had overrated Ohio State's "Pryor Offense."

I'm leaning toward half-empty. I think it's time to start the campaign: An unbeaten Penn State won't necessarily be better than a 1-loss Big 12 and a 1-loss SEC champ.

If a Coach or Harris pollster is voting Penn State into the BCS national-title game mainly out of nostalgia for the career of Joe Paterno, it is the WORST REASON IN THE HISTORY OF THE SPORT a pretty lousy, intellectually bankrupt reason to put a team in the title game.

They're either one of the 2 best teams in the country (which I find dubious) or not. Take your feelings for JoePa out of it.

I love the Penn State resurgence story this season. But you shouldn't necessarily put them in the national title game for it. Meanwhile, give them the "Ohio State" award for going unbeaten through a less-than-daunting Big Ten schedule. (This year's Ohio State at least played USC. And lost. But they played 'em.)

Penn State's schedule is fractionally as difficult as the best of the Big 12 or SEC. Look at Texas: The Longhorns will play a harder schedule in any 2 of the past 3 weeks (pick any 2!) -- let alone next week at Texas Tech -- than Penn State's entire season combined.

I'm impressed with Penn State going into a hostile Columbus and coming out with a win, to be sure. But it wasn't entirely impressive.


It won't surprise you, then, what my preliminary BlogPoll Top 10 looks like:

1. Texas
2. Alabama
3. Texas Tech
4. Penn State
5. Oklahoma State
6. Georgia
7. Florida
8. Oklahoma
9. USC
10. Utah

I am sure I will flip-flop Penn State and Texas Tech, but I think that winning in Lawrence was almost as impressive as winning in Columbus. (For the doubters about TX Tech's defense, Kansas' offense is much better than Ohio State's.)

Here's the thing: I can leave Texas Tech there this week, because as of next Saturday night, when they host Texas, either they lose and drop out of the Top 10 or win and climb to No. 1. Regardless, Penn State moves back up to No. 3 anyway -- assuming they "survive" yet another "toughie" Big Ten game (at Iowa).

Every other BCS contender has to run through a gauntlet of brutal games. All Penn State had to do was beat an overrated, offensively anemic Ohio State in Columbus -- and they barely did that. Yup: That sure is BCS title-game worthy.

Still more than a month to go in the season, and it's already getting political. Hey, with this system, that's how it should be.


Chuchu17 said...

Dan, being a PSU fan here, I gotta admit I'm a little biased towards getting the Nittany Lions into the NC game. With that said though, it's unfair to compare how USC played OSU to how Penn State played OSU. First and foremost, OSU did not have Beanie Wells playing and did not have Pryor playing the entire gaem against USC. Second, USC played OSU at home while PSU played in Columbus, arguably one of the top 5 hardest places to play. Thrid, if we're gonig by your logic here, then shouldn't we compare how PSU played Oregon State to how USC played Oregon State?

The Mark Show said...

You're "half-empty" on Penn State? Fucking shocker. If Florida had that same win you'd be gushing.

Unknown said...

Let me play TonyK to your Wilbon (or maybe you're LeBetard in this instance - zing!). But first let me state that I am a PSU alum and therefore obviously biased - but, I won't extend that bias any further than you do with Florida/SEC (double zing!).

I fall on the side of half-full, if not overflowing. That likely stems from experiencing the past horrors at Columbus, but also from the simple fact that they won, period. You said, "...I think that winning in Lawrence was almost as impressive as winning in Columbus." Really? What has Kansas shown you in Lawrence? The ability to lose big to ranked teams? The ability to beat FIU, Sam Houston, etc?

Digging into the stats of last night's game reveals that it was a very fast game; that is, Penn State only had 8 possessions and both teams played field position most of the night, constantly flipping the field. While I wasn't impressed with the offense, they never had a 3-and-out, didn't turn the ball over and the team overall committed no penalties. Moral victories, perhaps, but they scored when given the opportunity. Conversely, OSU only turned the ball over twice (with the final INT ending the game) and committed very few penalties, meaning PSU's offense mostly dealt with a long field. Again, I wanted to see much more from the offense, but both teams played rather error-free football, thereby limiting the overall amount of scoring opportunities.

You also said, "An unbeaten Penn State won't necessarily be better than a 1-loss Big 12 and a 1-loss SEC champ." OK, fair enough - that's a rather noncommittal statement. But, does it trump that Penn State is undefeated (for now) and a 1-loss SEC champ has, by definition, a loss? And who are we talking about here? Florida? They're more worthy because they lost to a mediocre Ole Miss team -- at The Swamp? Take care of your business -- especially at home (I'll include UGa here, too) -- and then you've got an argument.

I'll even take to task the notion that the SEC is a far superior league. The league's depth is always brought up, but the teams that make up that supposed depth -- team like LSU, Auburn, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt (this year) -- are very much being exposed as run of the mill teams. Beyond, 'Bama, UGa, and UF, I'm not impressed by the SEC.

We'll need to agree to disagree -- indeed the subjectivity related to human rankings in a sport with 100+ teams with an unbalanced schedule will always be sky high -- but that's what makes it fun. Enjoy the rest of the season. Go State!

Johnny b said...

I'm sorry that beating Ohio State isn't as impressive as losing to Ole Miss at HOME

the bankrupt museum said...

Gimme a break Dan - when someone in the SEC beats someone - ANYONE - outside of the conference we can start arguing for a 1-loss SEC team in the championship game. This week: big east "power house" WVU DESTROYS that vaunted Auburn/SEC defense...and uh...DUKE beats Vandy on the road.

SF said...

You can say that USC thumped the Ohio St. Defense much worse than Penn St., but please remember that Penn St. destroyed an Oregon St team that beat USC. Also, Ohio St Defense playing at home is so much tougher than on the road.

BigTrain said...

1991 - Penn State: 42 Texas 17
in the Fiesta Bowl

1993 - Penn State: 31 Tennessee: 13
in the Capitol One Bowl

1994 - Penn State:38 Oregon:20
in the Rose Bowl

1995 - Penn State:43 Auburn:14
in the Outback Bowl

1996 - Penn State: 38 Texas:15
in the Fiesta Bowl

1998 - Penn State: 26 Kentucky:14
in the Outback Bowl

1999 - Penn State: 24 Texas A&M:0
in the Alamo Bowl

2005 - Penn State: 26 Florida State: 23 in the Orange Bowl

2006 - Penn State: 20 Tennessee: 10 in the Outback Bowl

2007 - Penn State: 24 Texas A&M: 17 in the Alamo Bowl

Penn State has had some modern success against the SEC, Big 12, ACC, and Pac 10 in bowl games. But you still seem to think that an undefeated Penn State is undeserving of a National Championship bid? Get off your high horse.

River Otter said...

Agreed that nostalgia/sentiment for Paterno should not be a reason that PSU plays in the BCS championship. However, there's a reason that the computer polls, which take SOS into account, have the Nittany Lions ranked no worse than third.

Unknown said...

don't hold penn state in low esteem because ohio state got blown out of the last two national championships.

dan, you've started to betray a real anti-PSU bias in recent posts. the offense wasn't there because it was not that kind of game. they weren't going to win by 30 points. they knew that in order to win in columbus they would have to control the ball (zero turnovers), play defense (wells: 55 yds on 22 carries), capitalize on turnovers, and not commit penalties (1 penalty which was declined).

penn state has shown all year that it can have an explosive offense. they didn't need to do that in columbus. they needed to play defense and got out with the win.

B.Lane said...

Hmmm.... I'll take the teams greg m discounted (LSU, Auburn, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt) over the likes of Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, and Northwestern any day. And I don't think LSU winning the BCS last year and losing, albeit badly, to two Top 10 teams this year makes them a "run of the mill" team, as you put it.

B.Lane said...

and @ 'the bankrupt museum': so since you said if the SEC beat 'ANYONE' outside of the conf then we could consider a 1-loss team for the BCS, how about Georgia's win over Arizona State, Florida's win over Miami, Kentucky's win over Louisville, Alabama's win over Clemson... do those not count? Does it only count if the team they beat turns out to actually be good? Well I guess by that logic then PSU's entire schedule so far doesn't count for much because the only team of consequence (and I say that begrudgingly) they've beaten is Ohio State.

Alabama got lucky with the scheduling rotation this year and their schedule is relatively easy this year as well, but I'll take their win over Georgia as more impressive than PSU's win over Ohio St. And they still have LSU and likely an SEC Championship game vs. a highly ranked team from the SEC East coming up.