Archive: September, 2008
Joe Paterno had his weekly teleconference today and the Penn State coach didn't snap at reporters once (well, sort of). Must be nice to be 5-0 and ranked No. 6 in the country. Here's a snippet of what Paterno had to say with Purdue looming (along with my smarty pants comments):
1. Acknowledged his program's woes on the road over the last several-plus years. Doesn't think it's become harder to win on the road in the Big Ten. (And why would he? He's never won in Columbus and he's only won in Ann Arbor and Wisconsin twice.)
2. Said that he thinks injured wide receiver Jordan Norwood (hamstring) is OK, but not to hold him to it. Quarterback Daryll Clark said earlier today that he thought Norwood tweaked his hammy pretty bad. So the jury's still out on Norwood for Saturday. (My two cents: They should rest the senior and bring him back for Wisconsin.)
The Penn State athletic department released its injury report and depth chart tonight in advance of Saturday's game with Purdue. Wide receiver Jordan Norwood, who missed the Illinois game with a hamstring injury, is listed as probable. Coach Joe Paterno said after the game that he expected Norwood to be back this week. There weren't any other additional names on the injury report.
Two notable names returned to the depth chart. Maurice Evans is the backup left defensive end to Aaron Maybin and Abe Koroma is the backup left defensive tackle to Jared Odrick. Lydell Sargeant is still listed as the starter at left cornerback, but it was fairly obvious Saturday that A.J. Wallace could supplant the senior sometime soon.
Penn State returner Derrick Williams was named Big Ten Special Teams player of the week for his performance in the Nittany Lions' 38-24 win over Illinois on Saturday. Williams had a clutch 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter that gave Penn State a 31-17 lead. He also had a fine day receiving (6 catches for 75 yards) and rushing (6 carries for 33 yards) and became the first player under coach Joe Paterno to have three touchdowns -- rushing, receiving and on a return -- in one game.
Any doubts that may existed about Penn State are starting to slip away after the Lions' 38-24 win over Illinois on Saturday. But before you reserve those tickets to the Orange Bowl, though, just remember that it doesn't get any easier from here on out. After opening with four of five games at Beaver Stadium, Penn State plays four of its next five on the road. The Lions have to travel to always hostile Wisconsin on Oct. 11 and two weeks later to Ohio State where they haven't won since joining the Big Ten.
After an impressive win and a host of upsets Penn State garnered the respect it felt it deserved from the voters, moving up to No. 6 in both the Associated Press and USAToday coaches' polls. This is the Nittany Lions' highest ranking since finishing No. 3 in the final 2005 polls.
One other note, the Purdue game will be aired on ESPN on Saturday at noon.
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- After its convincing 38-24 win over Illinois last night, Penn State moved up from No. 14 to No. 7 in my latest Associated Press poll ballot. The Nittany Lions, of course, benefited from the losses by Southern Cal, Florida, Georgia and Wisconsin and bolstered their reputation after common opponent Oregon State shocked USC on Thursday night.
The AP and USAToday coaches' polls will be released sometime early this afternoon and I imagine Penn State will be ranked somewhere between No. 6 and No. 8. If they keep winning, the Lions won't ever play an opponent ranked higher than them which could hurt them in the long run. The Wisconsin loss actually wasn't a good thing if you're looking picture. Of course, if Penn State keeps winning none of this may even matter. Here's my ballot in its entirety:
1. Oklahoma (4-0)
2. Alabama (5-0)
3. Missouri (4-0)
4. LSU (4-0)
5. Texas (4-0)
6. Texas Tech (4-0)
7. Penn State (5-0)
8. BYU (4-0)
9. Southern Cal (2-1)
10. South Florida (5-0)
11. Georgia (4-1)
12. Florida (3-1)
13. Ohio State (4-1)
14. Kansas (3-1)
15. Auburn (4-1)
16. Wisconsin (3-1)
17. Utah (5-0)
18. Boise State (3-0)
19. Vanderbilt (4-0)
20. Fresno State (4-1)
21. Oklahoma State (4-0)
22. Oregon (4-1)
23. TCU (4-1)
24. Virginia Tech (4-1)
25. Connecticut (5-0)
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- The Nittany Lions did what they had to do and took care of Illinois, 38-24, tonight. It wasn't a statement performance, but it showed that Penn State is a serious contender for the Big Ten title and maybe, just maybe, a player in the national title hunt.
Here's my first running-and-top story. I'll have the write through with quotes in the morning. I'm off the bed. Good night.
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- In last year's game between Penn State and Illinois, Lions quarterback Daryll Clark could do nothing but watch as starter Anthony Morelli imploded late in the game, while the Illini's Juice Williams had been yanked at that point. Both will be starting tonight when the two teams meet. It's safe to say their play will have a big impact on the outcome.
Here's this morning's story advancing tonight's big game.
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- I drove up to Happy Valley a little early to beat the expected mass of travelers. It's actually not raining right now, but around kickoff tomorrow night it looks like it's going to be a toss up as far as there being inclement weather. Whether it rains or not I don't think it will have much of an impact on the game, at least in terms of favoring one team over the other.
Anyway, nothing should affect Penn State. Right? The Nittany Lions are better than Southern Cal. Right? Umm, I'm not so sure about that, but one thing is for sure, they clobbered a common opponent while the Trojans were punched in mouth by Oregon State Thursday night. I don't know if the USC-OSG game gives the Lions any more added confidence or if it scares the Illini, but it can't be viewed as nothing less than a positive if you're a Penn State person.
As for this game, I have the same feeling I had before the Oregon State game. I thought the Lions could win by three touchdowns, but wussed out and scaled back my pick, picking Penn State, 38-31. They ended up with a 45-14 victory. The difference between this opponent and that one, of course, is that Illinois is a Big Ten foe and that's enough to even the balances a tad.
Penn State opens the Big Ten slate tomorrow with Illinois and it's looking more and more as if the Lions could be in the conference championship conversation. Of course, Penn State has a bunch of knocks against it, chief among them being they've only won two crowns in their previous 15 seasons in the league. The Lions are also 1-7 in their last eight Big Ten openers. However, they haven't had a conference home opener since 2003.
Oh, by the way, Evans and Koroma will play Saturday in case you missed it. Go figure
I'll be back later with my much-anticipated prediction. Hold off the calls to your bookies.