The top 10 things we've learned about Penn State and college football in general after two weeks:
1. First, the good news: Everything is going as planned for Penn State, with the best-case scenario already playing out across the nation. PSU is beating up on cupcakes, while other contenders are playing themselves out of the national championship picture.
The Nittany Lions have moved up to No. 5 in the polls after losses by Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech and Ohio State. The weak schedule will keep the Lions out of the BCS title game unless there's only one other undefeated team, and PSU finds itself in a better position each time a top-tier squad bites the dust.
Let's examine this closer. Penn State seemingly only needs four of the following five teams to go down: Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas and USC.
The first three play in the SEC, so two will be eliminated through head-to-head competition. That leaves Texas and USC as obstacles, and they could be big ones.
Injured quarterback Sam Bradford should be back for Oklahoma by the time Texas rolls around, so that's the best chance for the Longhorns to lose.
As for USC? Ohio State's late meltdown Saturday night may haunt Penn State come BCS time. Had the Buckeyes won, the Lions could have controlled more of their own destiny by knocking Ohio State out of title contention in week 10. Now the Trojans may be able to run the table.
It could be Florida vs. USC for the national title, no matter what Penn State does.
2. OK, here's the bad news: Penn State is not that good. Not right now, anyway. The Lions are up to No. 5 only because they had a good preseason ranking.
The running game is a mess, and as entertaining as it is to watch, it's doubtful PSU can go undefeated in the Big Ten throwing on every play.
The offensive line has done well in pass blocking but has been poor in run blocking.
Some scary statistics: Take away the fluke fake-punt gallop that netted 37 yards, and the Lions have rushed for only 177 yards on 64 carries. That's a woeful average of 2.8 yards per carry.
Which leads us to ...
3. Daryll Clark is the most important player to his team in all of college football.
Clark has been super so far, and with the problems in the running game, he must continue to excel for Penn State to keep winning. He's 49-of-71 (69 percent) for 593 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions in two games.
If Clark struggles, PSU's offense will fizzle. If he were to get injured and true freshman Kevin Newsome is forced into action, PSU could be looking at a 7-5 season.
4. Ohio State blew it. The Buckeyes had USC beaten Saturday night and needed only one defensive stop at home against a freshman quarterback. They couldn't get the job done.
Ohio State finally represented the Big Ten well, but this is big-boy sports and moral victories count for zilch.
5. Enough with the "Terrelle Pryor is a great player" garbage. He's not. He's a below-average quarterback, period.
If this were baseball, Pryor would be considered a one-tool player. He's a great threat running the ball, but he's still totally unreliable throwing it.
Pryor threw a horrendous interception in the opening minutes that was nearly returned for a touchdown Saturday. He came back with a couple of nice throws down the middle, but he finished just 11-of-25 for 177 yards.
Pryor cannot handle defensive pressure at this point in his young career as he still makes bad decisions and looks like he's just trying to get rid of the ball so he doesn't get hit.
The young man also has no clue how to handle the media. A week after his absurd, "everyone does ... kills people, murders people, steals from you, steals from me" comments when defending Michael Vick, Pryor shot off his mouth again after Saturday's loss.
"We should have beat them by two or three touchdowns. Easy, man," Pryor said.
Penn State badly wanted Pryor, but at least in Clark it has an articulate quarterback who can be trusted not to say stupid things. Oh, and he can throw the ball, too.
The Buckeyes will win a lot of games this season because, well, they are the Buckeyes and have a lot of talent. But when they visit Penn State in week 10, look for the Lions to sell out trying to stop the run and force Pryor to beat them with his arm.
6. Michigan's Tate Forcier already appears to be a better all-around quarterback than Pryor.
Did you see how calm this kid was and the great playmaking skills he showed leading the Wolverines back against Notre Dame? Penn State's game at The Big House in week eight now looks a heck of a lot tougher.
7. Teams will not be able to run on Penn State. The Lions' front seven looks fantastic.
8. PSU's secondary remains a big concern. Good pressure up front will help the defensive backs in most games, but there are still doubts they will be able to shut down a competent passing attack.
9. It's great to see Joe Paterno back on the sideline.
10. Why in the world did Pitt have to play a game at Buffalo? Is that what the Panther program has come to?
Pitt has Heinz Field to lure quality opponents, yet it's going on the road to play a program that was one of the worst in all of college football just a few years ago.
There's no reason Penn State should do Pitt the favor of scheduling a one-for-one series when the Panthers are having to resort to those against the likes of Buffalo.
Cory Giger can be reached at 949-7031 and firstname.lastname@example.org.