Woah-oh-oh-ohoh. Oh. Woah-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh. Oh-oh. Oh-oh. They are Penn State.
Zombie just hit the jump for the next post because I can't keep up with this damn song anymore in typing.
Thus far: You don't generally expect Penn State to be 5-3, but, it should be said that they haven't really lost any bad games yet: their three losses are to then-No. 1 Alabama, then-No. 17 Iowa, and a resurgent Illinois. But they also haven't beaten a single quality team yet: The best team they've beaten is Michigan, who they handled 41-31 last week. Other than that it's MAC stuff and Minnesota. And the Youngstown State Penguins.
Us and them: This series starts in 1993, when the Nittany Lions joined the conference. But that's the period of NU's greatest football success - the all-time record probably reflects that, right? Uh, well, no, we're 3-10 against them. NU won back to back games in 2003-2004, including a 14-7 win at Happy Valley in 2004 - NU's only win at State College in six attempts. They haven't won any of the three games since then.
When we got the ball: The guy you gotta prepare for on Penn State's offense is Evan Royster. Two straight 1000-yard seasons, and although he'll have to work to get back there - he has 600 yards with four games to go - but he's still a force. 13 touchdowns on the season, and a 150-yard game last week with two touchdowns against Michigan State. Also, the 5.1 yards per carry this year is a career low. Read that sentence and be mad that we do not have him as our running back. I'd probably attribute that career low to the fact that Penn State's offense is as unpotent as its been for a while, probably due to the graduation of Darryll Clark. At QB, Penn State isn't as much in disarray as people seem to think: yes, Rob Bolden, who started the first seven games of the year as a true freshman, has a concussion. But it's not a big dropoff for the Nittany Lions if they have to go with their backup, Matt McGloin, a sophomore former walk-on. The first reason I say that is because Bolden hasn't had that great of a year: he has five touchdowns to seven picks on the year, and only has 1307 yards passing. (He's also not much of a runner.) But also because McGloin didn't look that bad: He's led the Nittany Lions to two straight wins, one a two-touchdown performance after he was forced into the game against Minnesota, the other a 17-28 performance with 250 passing yards against Michigan last week. (Then again, it's Michigan.) The two are competing for a spot. Whoever it is has a very talented receiving corps to throw to, centered around junior Derek Moye.
When they got the ball: It's hard to pass the ball against Penn State: They have the third best passing defense in terms of yardage. But still, they have the third-least interceptions in the conference, with only seven - three of which are by standout safety NIck Sukay, with another two from junior corner D'Anton Lynn. Up front, Penn State isn't particularly strong - they have the second-least sacks in the conference, only nine, which is still hilarious because we gave up eight sacks to Michigan State. They also have the third-worst rush defense in the conference. Basically, Penn State's defense doesn't have a disturbing amount to make me scared.