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DOMINATE THE STATE



Updated: 2017-09-20T16:27:01-04:00

 



Know Your Foe, Week 4: Iowa Hawkeyes

2017-09-20T16:27:01-04:00

Penn State meets Iowa for the 26th time since 1930 University of Iowa Location: Iowa City, IowaEnrollment: 33,334 Home Stadium: Kinnick StadiumHead Coach: Kirk Ferentz, 19th year, 138–92 (.600) – longest tenured coach in the nationConference: Big Ten (West Division) Series History First Game: November 15, 1930 (Iowa won, 19-0) Last Game: November 5, 2016 (Penn State won, 41-14) Overall: Penn State leads 14-12 Current Win Streak: 3, Penn State Last Season (8-5 overall, 6-3 Big Ten West) After a 12-2 season and a Rose Bowl appearance in 2015, there were high hopes for the 2016 Iowa Hawkeyes. Iowa won against Miami of Ohio and Iowa State, lost to North Dakota State, defeated Rutgers, lost to Northwestern, then defeated both Minnesota and Purdue. Iowa’s next two games resulted in losses to no. 10 Wisconsin and no. 20 Penn State, but the Hawkeyes bounced back and shocked the college football world in their next game. Iowa was 5-4 when they played no. 2 Michigan at Iowa, and pulled off a 14-13 win. Iowa kept up momentum, winning their next game against Illinois and defeating no 17 Nebraska 40-10. Iowa ended the regular season with a no 21 ranking and a spot in the Outback Bowl with no. 20 Florida, but lost 30-3. Last Week Iowa is 3-0 after wins over Wyoming, Iowa State and North Texas. Last week they defeated North Texas 31-14 after trailing 14-10 at the half then scoring three unanswered touchdowns in the second half of play. Offseason and Recruiting Iowa lost a number of key players after the 2016 season, including quarterback C.J. Beathard, defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson, tight end George Kittle and stand out cornerback Desmond King, who all departed for the NFL. On the coaching side, there were a number of changes, notably with offensive coordinator Greg Davis “retiring” and being replaced by Coach Ferentz’s son, Brian Ferentz. Two other offensive position coaches also did not return. Iowa’s 2017 class ranked as the nation’s 41st recruiting class (8th in the Big Ten Conference) as compared to PSU’s 2017 class ranked at 15th in the nation and 3rd in the Big10. Of note in Iowa’s 2017 class is five- star legacy defensive end A.J. Epenesa. Offense Even with the departure of key players last year, Iowa’s offense isn’t having too much trouble this year largely due to starting quarterback, Nathan Stanley, a strong returning offensive line, and key running backs Akrum Wadley and James Butler and receiver Matt VandeBerg. Although Iowa is 78th overall in total offense, the Hawkeyes are 6th in total possession, 27th in first down offense and 24th in third down conversions. New starting quarterback Nathan Stanley has shown solid performance this year, ranking in the top in the Big Ten (just in front of Trace McSorley) in touchdown passes with 10. Stanley is 24th in pass efficiency in FBS, 5th in passing touchdowns (in front of McSorley) and he’s only thrown one interception. So far this year he’s gone 51 of 83 for 633 yards. Stanley is protected by a solid offensive line that’s returning five starters including Sean Walsh and James Daniels, who were all-Conference in 2016. Senior running back Akrum Wadley returns after a 1,000-yard season in 2016. Wadley has already rushed for 258 yards and a touchdown, and caught 6 receptions for 152 yards and a touchdown, also making him the team’s second leading receiver. Also keep an eye on graduate transfer James Butler who rushed for 1,336 yards and 12 touchdowns last year for North Carolina. Another key target for quarterback Stanley is leading receiver Nick Easley, a junior college transfer, currently with 16 receptions for 162 yards and two touchdowns. Senior receiver Matt VandeBerg also returns after missing nine games last year due to injuries. He didn’t see much play time in 2016, but in 2015 was the top Iowa receiver. This year, VandeBerg already has 8 receptions for 80 yards and one touchdown. Defense Iowa’s defense is one of the deepest in the Big 10, and they’re returning starters in many positions. In S&P+ ratings, Iow[...]



Success with Hyperlinking is Celebrating Top Ten Teams

2017-09-20T15:18:01-04:00

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Several Penn State sports programs find themselves ranked in the Top Ten this fall.

Penn State is tearing it up right now in Fall sports with 5 teams ranked in the Top-10 nationally. Aside from football (#4), the women’s volleyball (#2), field hockey (#3), women’s soccer (#7), and women’s cross country (#9) are all having successful seasons so far. With 5 teams in the top ten, Penn State is currently tied with Stanford for the most Top-10 sports teams in the nation.

Barton Simmons at CBS Sports views Penn State’s upcoming match-up against Iowa as a trap game. He, too, must be scarred from frustrating defeats versus the Hawkeyes in the 2000’s, because his comparison between Penn State and last year’s Michigan team doesn’t seem very logical. Other than being highly-ranked and playing on the road, Penn State and Michigan have very different playing styles highlighted by Nittany Lions having an offense with a pulse. Still, Akrum Wadley poses a threat to Penn State’s defense, and Iowa has plenty of motivation to avenge an embarrassing performance last year in State College. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a trap game though.

PennLive’s Bob Flounders is asking the important question regarding Saturday’s game: Is Iowa prepared to stop Penn State’s two-QB formation? Up to this point it’s hard to tell if Moorhead’s use of this formation has been a ploy to complicate the game-plans of opposing defensive coordinators, or if he plans to use it regularly in close games. Tommy Stevens famously scored on a jet-sweep in last year’s meeting between the two teams, and I predict that he’ll finally throw a pass out of the two-QB formation this week.

The Cedar Rapids Gazette breaks down the match-up from a Hawkeye point of view with some excellent quotes from head coach Kirk Ferentz about last year’s rout. “The only thing we might have been all right with last year would be the coin toss, and I’d have to look that up,” Ferentz said. “We probably lost that, too. There wasn’t much out of that tape we can take.”




46 Random Thoughts on Georgia State

2017-09-20T12:00:02-04:00

Random musings about the weekend that was against the Panthers On Saturday afternoon, the Penn State Nittany Lions and the Georgia State Panthers engaged in a contest of American football under the lights at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania. The Nittany Lions emerged victorious by the mildly controversial score of 56-0. I have some thoughts, which are randomly set forth below: There’s something special about Beaver Stadium under the lights, no matter what the opponent. The Miami teams of the early-aughts, Ohio State, Michigan, and Iowa at their recent peaks, Nebraska coming off of a BCS Title Game appearance, and Fiesta Bowl-bound one-off University of Central Florida (#Bortles) were all either strong squads or historic powers when they hit the grass for an 8:00 p.m. kickoff in State College. A few years ago, we somehow managed to make Rutgers into a night game. In retrospect, it was sensible. Rutgers was a regional school we had a long history of playing and was making their first visit to Beaver Stadium as a Big Ten member following a back-and-forth affair that Penn State won in 2014 in Piscataway. I’m not sure anyone thought we’d win 28-3, but that was a nice surprise. We’ve now run the gamut with Georgia State. Eight years ago, this program didn’t even exist. Seven years ago, they were an FCS program. Now, they’re playing under the lights before 100,000 people. The line on this game was Penn State -38.5. The Nittany Lions beat the spread handily. And yet, I have to say, despite the opponent, the electricity of Beaver Stadium at night was apparent to those of us watching at home. It helps when the home team throws haymakers like Mike Tyson in his prime. Let’s take a moment to thank Georgia State for bringing us Blake Gillikin. Let’s also thank Georgia State for bringing us Shawn Elliott, a head coach who managed to give a top 5 team plenty of bulletin board material. Seriously, what’s this guy’s deal? Prior to the game, he apparently said that Penn State “matches up favorably with SEC teams.” Oh, really? Thanks for the high praise. On second thought, Shawn Elliott might be so brainwashed that he truly believes the only good football played in America exists in the Southeastern Conference. Did anyone catch the broadcast team talking about Elliott’s halftime comments? Penn State apparently scored “cheap points” in the first half. It was 35-0 at halftime. The following were the “cheap” scores Coach Elliott is referring to - (1) Touchdown Tommy Stevens’ touchdown reception; (2) Saquon Barkley’s 85-yard touchdown catch and run that was featured all over every sports news outlet in the country for the next two days; (3) A 27-yard touchdown pass from Trace McSorley to DaeSean Hamilton, a fifth year senior receiver with a long track record; (4) a 29-yard touchdown run by Miles Sanders where he raced through multiple defenders; (5) an 8-yard touchdown run by Trace McSorley on an option keeper, the most standard play in our offense. Yup, truly cheap points. What a hack. James Franklin probably didn’t hear those comments, but I would’ve iced Georgia State’s kicker in a blowout for those lame halftime excuses alone. Speaking of Coach Franklin, I want to say hello, since I’m certain he’s a regular reader. You might remember in the Random Thoughts post on Akron (actually Akron, not Pitt), I noted my disappointment in Penn Staters for only turning out a crowd of 101,684 people for the season opener, particularly in light of all of the bonafide stars this team offers. Early in the broadcast, our fearless announce crew spoke about their conversations with Coach Franklin, who mentioned expectations and fan concerns about “only having 102,000 people in the stands.” Obviously, that comment was referring to us. No doubt about it whatsoever. So on behalf of all of BSD, I just want to say, Coach, you’re doing a great job and this team looks awesome. We’re proud to see nearly 103,000 in th[...]



Bowl Projections 2017: Week Three

2017-09-20T09:20:01-04:00

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Penn State finishes its non-conference schedule at 3-0. Are they a contender for the College Football Playoff?

SB Nation (Jason Kirk)

Bowl: Orange Bowl

Location: Miami, FL

Date: Dec. 30, 2017

Opponent: Florida State

ESPN (David Hale/Kyle Bonagura)

Bowl: Orange Bowl

Location: Miami, FL

Date: Dec. 30, 2017

Opponent: Florida State

CBS Sports (Jerry Palm)

Bowl: Cotton Bowl

Location: Dallas, TX

Date: Dec. 29, 2017

Opponent: Oklahoma State

Sports Illustrated

Bowl: Rose Bowl (College Football Playoff Semifinal)

Location: Pasadena, CA

Date: Jan. 1, 2018

Opponent: Clemson

College Football News

Bowl: Outback Bowl

Location: Tampa, FL

Date: Jan. 1, 2018

Opponent: Mississippi State

SB Nation and ESPN are in agreement that Penn State will play Florida State in an Orange Bowl rematch. It’s a little surprising to see Kirk back down from his CFP prediction of last week, but the Nittany Lions have the conference season to prove him wrong.

Record in Rose Bowl: 1-3 (Three losses to USC, and a win over Oregon)

Record in Orange Bowl: 4-1 (Wins against Kansas, LSU, Missouri, and Florida State, and a loss in the 1985 national championship versus Oklahoma)

Record in Cotton Bowl: 2-0-1 (Wins against Texas and Baylor, and a tie against SMU)

Record in Outback Bowl: 3-1 (Wins against Kentucky, Auburn, and Tennessee, and the loss against Florida)

*The Sporting News has Penn State in the CFP (Sugar Bowl) against Alabama




What We’ve Learned About Penn State Heading Into Big Ten Play

2017-09-20T08:41:02-04:00

Three games are in the books so what have we learned about the Nittany Lions? For the first time in almost a decade, the Nittany Lions headed into a college football season with legitimate championship aspirations. Now that the non-conference schedule is in the past, here’s five things we’ve learned about Penn State. 1. Work To Be Done Along The Offensive Line Despite returning experience and talent along the offensive front, the big guys upfront haven’t been a strength like many thought they would be. That’s not to say they’ve been bad (this isn’t a 2014 or 2015 situation), but they didn’t exactly put up stellar performances against Pitt or Georgia State, especially in the run game. Fortunately, the offensive line is a unit that usually needs time to gel. The more these guys play together, the better they should be, so there’s still ample time to turn it around. I think they’ll figure it out. 2. You Can’t Contain No. 26 Teams are rightly selling out to stop Saquon Barkley in the run game. The bad news for them: There is no stopping Saquon Barkley. Even with some rather mediocre run blocking, Barkley is still having a Heisman-esque season, totaling 548 total yards (307 rushing and 241 receiving) for 5 total touchdowns through three games. And, folks, those numbers are only going to get better as Barkley sees more and more snaps. Everything Penn State does offensively — either directly or indirectly — is aided by Barkley. If the Nittany Lions win the Big Ten, No. 26 will be the reason why. 3. No #1 Wide Receiver Figuring out who was going to replace Chris Godwin as the No. 1 wideout was always a tough question to answer. Through three games, it appears as though the answer is “nobody.” That’s not to say the Nittany Lions are without weapons at wide receiver — Juwan Johnson, DeAndre Thompkins, Daesean Hamilton, Saeed Blacknall, and Brandon Polk have all had solid seasons thus far — but no one has separated themselves from the rest of the pack, as evidenced Mike Gesicki and Barkley leading the team in receptions. 4. The Defense Is Good...Maybe? Two shutouts. 14 total points. One touchdown allowed. So everything is good? Maybe, maybe not. I wouldn’t say the defense has struggled against the run — they’re allowing just 2.95 yards per rush — but they certainly haven’t been dominant. The defensive tackles are doing a decent enough job of holding their ground, but with linebackers over pursuing or not being in the right position, there’s holes in this defense. Better teams like Michigan, Ohio State, and potentially Wisconsin will take advantage of those gaps. On the positive side of things, the secondary is very good. There really isn’t a passing attack in the Big Ten that should give this unit too many problems, so if things can be cleaned up at linebacker, Brent Pry should have a championship caliber unit. 5. 15-0 or GTFO Is Still Possible Perhaps not the expectation, but the goal heading into the season was for the Nittany Lions to go undefeated — or, as we like to say here at BSD, “15-0 or GTFO.” Despite a concern or two, that’s still a possible outcome for Penn State. Of course, not all of that is the Nittany Lions’ doing, as the rest of the Big Ten has been...meh. Ohio State hasn’t lived up to expectations, while Michigan’s offense still looks stuck in the mud. Even teams like Iowa and Northwestern — the trendy picks for upsets during the preseason — don’t look so scary anymore, even in road environments. That’s not to say the schedule is easy — it isn’t — but compared to what it appeared to be heading into the year, it definitely doesn’t look as daunting. This is weird to say for a team that has outscored its opponents 141-14, but I don’t think we’ve seen the best version of Penn State yet. The Nittany Lions have been good, no doubt, but there’s an extra gear to this team that we haven’t seen yet. If the[...]



Jack Eichel Lifts Buffalo Over Pittsburgh

2017-09-20T08:17:00-04:00

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The Sabres topped the Penguins in overtime in the second NHL game at Pegula Ice Arena.

State College has become a focal point of college hockey ever since Terry Pegula made his $102 million donation to Penn State to kick start Division I ice hockey programs.

That donation has created many milestones in the six years that have followed, highlighted last season by the first National Hockey League game played at Pegula Ice Arena between the Buffalo Sabres and Minnesota Wild.

A year following that game, the second such spectacle outdid its predecessor, and was highlighted itself by a former college hockey star.

Jack Eichel showed off the skill that made him the second overall pick in 2015, notching three points in Tuesday’s matchup with the Pittsburgh Penguins, including a mesmerizing overtime winner.

Midway through the period, the “Population of Pominville” grew once again, as the 14-year veteran tapped in the puck near the left post.

The Penguins responded again early in the third period. With the Sabres down a man, Jay McClement redirected a point shot by Chad Ruhwedel past former Minnesota Golden Gopher Adam Wilcox, who took over for Chad Johnson to start the third period.

Later in the period, with the Penguins once again on the power play, Olli Maatta capitalized on a broken play, burying a one timer past Wilcox.

The Penguins lead held until the final four minutes of play. On a fast break for the Sabres, Matt Tennyson sprung in from the point, firing a wrist shot that found its way through Casey DeSmith, knotting the game at three with just 3:45 in regulation.

That set the stage for Eichel’s heroics, and sent the small contingent of Sabres fans among a sea of Penguins supporters home happy.




Just the Stats: No. 4 Penn State at Iowa

2017-09-20T06:40:02-04:00

On the road for the first time this season, the Nittany Lions kick off the conference schedule in Iowa City. Penn St. Nittany Lions (3-0; 0-0 Big Ten East) vs Iowa Hawkeyes (3-0; 0-0 Big Ten West) 7:30 p.m. ET, September 23, 2017--ABC Kinnick Stadium (Capacity: 70,585 / Iowa City, IA) table.tableizer-table { font-size: 12px; border: 1px solid #CCC; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; } .tableizer-table td { padding: 4px; margin: 3px; border: 1px solid #CCC; } .tableizer-table th { background-color: #515A5A; color: #FFF; font-weight: bold; } Penn State Value (Nat'l Rank) Value (Nat'l Rank) Iowa Advantage Rushing Offense (ypg) 187.0 (50) 97.0 (23) Rushing Defense (ypg) Passing Offense (ypg) 282.0 (37) 238.0 (74) Passing Defense (ypg) Pass Efficiency 178.48 (14) 116.94 (53) Pass Efficiency Defense Total Offense (ypg) 469.0 (41) 335.0 (46) Total Defense (ypg) Push Scoring Offense (ppg) 47.0 (T - 11) 19.3 (40) Scoring Defense (ppg) Rushing Defense (ypg) 126.0 (50) 180.0 (59) Rushing Offense (ypg) Push Passing Defense (ypg) 147.7 (19) 218.3 (74) Passing Offense (ypg) Pass Efficiency Defense 79.62 (6) 165.08 (22) Pass Efficiency Push Total Defense (ypg) 273.7 (22) 398.3 (78) Total Offense (ypg) Scoring Defense (ppg) 4.7 (2) 33.0 (T - 54) Scoring Offense (ppg) Punt Return Defense (ypr) 0.25 (T - 22) 11.6 (31) Punt Return Yds Push Punt Return Yds 17.92 (9) 0.00 (T - 5) Punt Return Defense (ypr) Push Net Punting Yds 43.25 (16) 39.83 (53) Net Punting Yds Kickoff Return Yds 26.75 (19) 14.78 (8) Kickoff Return Defense Push Kickoff Return Defense 18.00 (T - 34) 22.88 (46) Kickoff Return Yds Push Turnover Margin +2.33 (2) -.33 (T - 78) Turnover Margin Passes Had Intercepted 2 (T - 50) 4 (T - 19) Passes Intercepted Passes Intercepted 6 (T - 5) 1 (T - 16) Passes Had Intercepted Push Penalty Yds/Game 35.0 (T - 17) 57.33 (T - 75) Penalty Yds/Game Sacks 3.67 (T - 9) 1.33 (T - 37) Sacks Allowed Sacks Allowed 0.67 (T - 9) 1.67 (T - 76) Sacks Tackles for Loss (tpg) 11.3 (1) 6.67 (T - 89) Tackles for Loss Allowed (tpg) Tackles for Loss Allowed (tpg) 5.33 (T - 48) 4.3 (T - 113) Tackles for Loss (tpg) Redzone Offense (%) 92.3% (T - 30) 100% (T - 111) Redzone Defense (%) Redzone Defense (%) 60.0% (12) 83.33% (T - 69) Redzone Offense (%) Redzone TD % 84.62% 66.67% Redzone TD % Defense Redzone TD % Defense 20.00% 75.00% Redzone TD % 3rd Down Conv. % 36.7% (91) 23.7% (11) 3rd Down Defense % 3rd Down Defense % 36.4% (58) 47.8% (24) 3rd Down Conv. % 4th Down Conv. % 50.0% (T - 49) 75.0% (T - 107) 4th Down Defense % 4th Down Defense % 75.0% (T - 107) 85.7% (T -15) 4th Down Conv. % 1st Downs 57 (T - 74) 54 (T - 57) 1st Downs Allowed Push 1st Downs Allowed 57 (70) 73 (T - 27) 1st Downs Time of Possession 24:07 (125) 35:35 (6) Time of Possession Strength of Schedule 89 65 Strength of Schedule Push Difference Difference >25 in National Rank = Difference >50 in National Rank = Difference >75 in National Rank = Difference >100 in National Rank = Note: All of the above rankings are taken directly from the NCAA except for strength of schedule, which is not ranked by the NCAA and instead taken from Team Rankings; it will be taken from S&P+ when that site has them up (after week 7). The Redzone TD% and Redzone TD% Defense are calculated by me and not ranked by the NCAA. Determining who has the advantage in these categories is strictly my arbitrary judgment. Quick thoughts: Is it wrong that the plethora of Lion’s head logos makes me nervous? It’s still, really, too early to judge much in these numbers; three games is a small sample size. But even with added categories in this feature, none of these numbers are incredibly surprising - the defense are ball hawks and[...]



James Franklin Weekly Press Conference Notes: Iowa Week

2017-09-19T20:37:02-04:00

IOWA IOWA IOWA IOWA IOWA IOWA IOWA Opening Statement After welcoming the media, James Franklin discussed Field Goal Gate, and reiterated that he called the timeout because his fourth string defense didn’t know how to block a field goal, and he needed to get his second string defenders out there. He also touched briefly on the fact that Georgia State’s goal is to score, and Penn State’s goal was not to let them score, and that PSU is going to go out and try to win on every single play, every single game (Me, reading between the lines? Franklin knew what he was doing, iced that kicker HARD, and is messing with everyone’s minds after the fact. Get it, coach. I’m here for it and for you.). Trace McSorley, Marcus Allen, and Tyler Davis/Blake Gillikin were the offensive, defensive, and special teams players of the week. All told, 78 players got on the field, and all the way down the depth chart they were playing hard. Starting slowly on offense has gone away, but defense is giving up some yards. Special teams have been fantastic. Iowa is a great place to play, and will be intimidating, especially the pink locker rooms. Franklin says that he’s going to discuss with his players how Iowa is welcoming them to Kinnick, honoring the original black and pink Penn State wore. He’s really appreciative that they would paint their locker room just for us. Questions On the defense giving up rushing yards, and whether Iowa will be tougher than Akron 2.0 and Georgia State: Defense is giving up yards, but generating turnovers. They still run B1G MAN BALL, and so will try to just overpower the defensive line. On Tariq Castro-Fields and Lamont Wade: Been nice to get to know them as players, and they’re learning every time they’re on the field. Expect to see them - and some other young players - more as the season goes on. On Trace and Tommy Stevens being on the field at the same time, after it was first seen against Iowa last year: Helps keep Stevens involved, and makes the defense more tentative. Package will continue to evolve, as Tommy can line up all over the field (I’ll personally be curious to see how often he gets lined up at fullback.). On the pink locker rooms (again): His daughters just got done painting their rooms: Shola went teal (solid choice) and Addy went pink. Looks good in his daughter’s room, thinks it will look good in Iowa’s locker room. On the offensive line performance so far: Not having Brendan Mahon caused some issues, and had to move Steven Gonzalez over to the other guard position, which probably affected him a bit. Mahon back will help, but teams will still do everything to stop Barkley from running on them. Regardless, OL needs to do better running between the tackles. On losing to Michigan last year in the B1G opener, and learning from it: Each game and season are different, so you try to learn, but the biggest thing is that the team is older and more experienced. On Yetur Gross-Matos - who has a high motor but wasn’t necessarily figuring out the football side of things - getting so many snaps, and if that is because he figured it out, or if it was to help him figure it out: Probably both, as he’s getting more practice and things are settling down for him, but the staff is also trying to speed up his maturation. On progress in the run game: Specifically against GAST, some young players like Will Fries were in there for the first time, and picking up the speed of the game. Overall however, opposing defenses are going to try to take away Barkley. So it’s up to the offense to find other ways to move the ball, and Penn State is fortunate to have lots of good play makers. On the backup running backs (after a brief comment about pink bedrooms): Both Andre Robinson and Miles Sanders have bright futures, and we’re fortunate to have them. On Akrum Wadley and Josey Jewell,[...]