It's getting less weird to watch Penn State football as the 2012 season goes on.
There's no point in anybody arguing about the existence of a Penn State football program this September. Barring the emergence of a "Let's actively go out of our ways to cover up this whole Jerry Sandusky thing and then lie about it and also pretend like nothing is happening so we and the football program can continue to make millions of dollars in profits" document, Penn State football isn't going anywhere in 2012. I stated back in July that I would have been just fine if PSU football was eliminated for a couple of years, and the continued cult-like worship of Joe Paterno that I witness every college football Saturday makes me ill. Head coach Bill O'Brien and the current Penn State players deserve no hate regarding the whole matter, and the fact is that this has become a very easy team to cheer on.
3 thoughts on Penn State after non-conference play: Most improved?
It's possible that Matt McGloin will never develop into a quarterback who is capable of leading an elite NFL offense. Even this past Saturday, several PSU fans I know were posting about the "bad McGloin" during the first quarter of the team's victory over Temple. You would have to be ignoring how well the senior has played in Penn State's first four games of the season in order to not see how much he has improved since this time last year. McGloin currently leads the Big Ten in total passing yards, he's tied with Taylor Martinez at the top of the conference in passing touchdowns, and he has thrown just two interceptions.
Allen Robinson has been a revelation at wide receiver this September, and he is largely responsible for McGloin looking like one of the better QBs in the conference over the past four weeks. You've still got to give credit to McGloin, who has more than stepped up his game after the PSU offense lost Silas Redd to USC this past summer. The Penn State QB looks like a true leader, perhaps for the first time during his college career, and I can honestly say that I believe he can beat any Big Ten defense.
3 thoughts on Penn State after non-conference play: The Big Ten..
is pretty bad right now. Ohio State may be 4-0, but they sure didn't look like world-beaters against the likes of UCF and UAB. Wisconsin lost at Oregon State, and both Utah State and UTEP made the Badgers look very ordinary. Both big Michigan schools were beaten by Notre Dame. Nebraska seems to be your typical "good, not great" team. If there's one thing we learned during non-conference play, it's this:
Penn State can absolutely win the Leaders division this fall.
NCAA sanctions may keep them out of a bowl game, but Penn State is still in the hunt for a conference division title, and I'm feeling much more optimistic about this team than I was back at the start of the season. O'Brien was, in my opinion, out-coached in the team's season opener against Ohio, but he's clearly getting the hang of this whole college football thing. Nobody can deny that Penn State should be 3-1, but now isn't the time or place to pile any more scrutiny onto placekicker Sam Ficken.
Looking ahead, games at Illinois and at Iowa and a home contest versus Northwestern don't cause me to lose any sleep. The atmosphere at Beaver Stadium could make all the difference when PSU hosts Ohio State. I absolutely believe Penn State can beat Wisconsin at home. The only game I really have marked down as a "definite loss" is when the Nittany Lions are away to Nebraska on November 10.
3 thoughts on Penn State after non-conference play: What might have been
After looking back at the first one-third of the campaign, I can't help but wonder just how good this team could have been had Bill O'Brien taken the job of PSU head coach for completely different reasons. Silas Redd would likely be a Heisman candidate wearing blue and white on college football Saturdays, and McGloin would have Justin Brown as an additional target. It's very possible that kicker-punter Anthony Fera still would have left the university because of the health of his mother, but Penn State has surely thus far missed the reliable kicker.
Penn State becoming an average-to-good team in 2012 is hardly a major story in all of this, of course, and those quick to lash out at the NCAA and/or Big Ten should remember that we're all lucky that the Nittany Lions are even playing games. I don't blame a single player who left the university following the release of the Freeh Report and the sanctions handed down by the NCAA, but I don't doubt that Penn State would have been one of the better teams in the conference had everybody remained.
It's possible that Penn State would have been just another mediocre Big Ten team regardless, but I don't think that would have been the case. The PSU defense is again a force, and the team's offense could have featured one of the best RBs in all of the country and a quarterback who is playing better than ever before. We'll never know and for plenty of good reasons, but that doesn't mean we can't think about it every now and then.