PSU-Alabama pregame stretch...
September 11, 2010 - Ray Eckenrode
BETWEEN THE LIONS
> Steve Sampsell dug up an interesting stat in the Mirror's Gameday mag: Alabama is 0-5 when ESPN's Gameday (the Mirror had the name first, btw, just like "Between the Lions," btw) crew visits.
> Conventional wisdom holds that Penn State's offensive line has to play a whole lot better for the Nits to have a chance in this game and that's true, but the linebackers need to do the same or the Tide might easily be looking at the other side of 40 points.
> There's an urban myth circulating out there in cyberspace that says the media has unfairly jumped all over Evan Royster about a perceived weight problem. Do a Google news search of "Royster + overweight" and you'll quickly see there's very little evidence to support such a claim. It was Joe Paterno who raised the question about Royster's weight. Media covering the team have mentioned Joe's comment in context since then. The end. If there's any unfair bashing of Royster going on, it's in blogs and on message boards. We could have a long discussion here about whether blogs are part of "the media" but we'll spare you that today.
> If you use Twitter and follow some of the Penn State personnel who do the same you learned in the past few weeks that Jay Paterno listens to The White Stripes while working on his gameplan, JoePa drives a Mercedes Benz and Evan Royster likes golf and doesn't like going to class. Valuable info? You decide.
> We'll continue to do in-game tweeting (from a fan's perspective) using @15MinutesBlog. Follow @CoryGiger for in-game analysis from the press box. If you don't know anything about Twitter, you should learn. Trust us.
> We cannot believe Marshall lost that game last night. Heartbreaking.
> Funny (or sad, depending on your perspective) story from the high school game we attended Friday: On a 1st-and-10 play, two flags were thrown. The first was illegal motion on the offense. The second was a dead ball personal foul on the defense. After stepping off the -5 and the +15, the officials somehow decided it was 2nd-and-1 (not even 1st-and-1 mind you).
You might remember that we'd been forecasting this game as a blowout back in April, based on Penn State's atrocious performance in the Blue-White game and the amazing talent on Alabama's roster. But two things have changed dramatically since April. The first is the emergence of Rob Bolden as Penn State's quarterback, but much more important are the issues that have sidelined two of Alabama's consensus No.1 NFL draft picks, Mark Ingram and Marcell Dareus (wideout Julio Jones is the third top prospect). To expect Bolden to lead Penn State to victory today is too much to expect (and if it happens, it will be the stuff of legend) but it's absolutely reasonable to expect Bolden gives the Nits a decent chance at being competitive. While we have no doubt that Alabama has a couple of studs lined up behind Ingram and Dareus, you simply cannot be the same team without two future NFL starters in your lineup. It all adds up to a much closer game than we anticipated (and one that Penn State could even win with a handful of breaks) however ... Tide (-11) 28-13.
Season prediction record: 1-0
Against the spread: 0-0