Today’s game was another one where I had an idea of what I was going to blog about at around halftime. That being – Illinois was probably going to lose, but it was going to be close, and if the squad were to capitalize on missed opportunities, they may have even been able to pull off the upset. I was even ready to draw a parallel to one of my favorite country songs. Then…this happened, and the wind was taken out of the sails of Illini Nation…
And it was all downhill from there. MSU’s offense had not been performing well coming in to this one, so the fact that they put up 42 and were nearly perfect on third down really tells you how much the Illini need to do to get up to par. I’ll give the O and B offense the benefit of the doubt…they had some momentum early, and I’m sure they were on the cusp of continuing that in the second half. But when you’re forced into so many three and outs, it kills any momentum you have.
There are some who are calling for some immediate drastic changes (e.g. to the coaching staff), but I’m waiting one more week before those thoughts start to creep in my head. In the meantime, Coach Beckman summed up the Achilles heel for his team in this one in his postgame radio interview.
Twenty-two of our 32 pickers this week correctly picked the victor, however illinifaningeorgia had the only respectable RSDT. He or she also gets kudos for predicting a big MSU offensive performance. Overall, walker drops out of first place by way of his/her pick for Illinois. Bwp 5P is our new lead dog, with DarrenAlman in second and my colleague Matt Daniels in third.
Penn State has been a tough team to get a read on this year, with losses to UCF and Indiana (who I still think isn’t as good as many think they are) and a slew of injuries and the big win a couple weeks ago over Michigan. The team likes to pass, with Allen Robinson being the top target of freshman (and just 18 year old) QB Christian Hackenberg. They also like to get their tight ends into the mix. Conversely, the Lions’ pass defense has left a little to be desired this year. So I expect both teams to air the ball out.
Earlier in the year, I lumped this one together with MSU as games that the Illini could steal. But in the present moment I see no indicators that will happen.
MY PREDICTION: Penn State 45, Illinois 14
I’m going to finish this week by talking a little about NCAA compliance staffs. I feel for these guys. Their job is to come down on people for violating rules that many think are ridiculous. There was some great back and forth on social media this week about students welcoming a certain recruit to town…then compliance swooping in to put the kibosh on it. And rightfully so. Small things like tweeting at someone could get a school in hot water and negatively impact its ability to land a recruit. My colleague Matt Daniels had a nice write up on the topic not too long ago.
So I told you that story…to tell you this story. With such a difficult job, I’m sure the work week can get maddening for compliance staffs. So I was delighted to see Maryland take a lighthearted approach to the topic on its Twitter page (see photo at left for an example). I salute you, turtles, and compliance staffs everywhere.
And in case you wondered what that photo sounds like...
Coming up next Saturday: PSU thoughts, standings, and Indiana predictions
[Beaver Stadium photo via gopsusports.com, Rock audio via RideTheLightning728 on YouTube]