Let me take you back a few weeks: It was Oct. 21. I was covering a high school football game, which on the night before I have to put in a super-long shift to cover a Penn State game the next day, is not one of my favorite things to do.
Oh, and it was raining. Hard. So hard, I couldn’t even cover the game from the sidelines. Had to do it inside a press box so tight, there was only room for about four chairs. Hardly enough room for the PA announcers and the two — somehow, two! — radio stations that were broadcasting the game. I stood in the back of that press box for the entire game. I wasn’t comfortable, wasn’t seeing the field the way I wanted. It was miserable. I was in a bad mood.
So, I took special notice during that game when I checked my Twitter account and saw this post, directed to me and about the Ohio State prediction I made in the paper that day, which was something like 41-17 Ohio State:
— David Leo (@bootsieleo) October 21, 2016
To which I responded…
— Donnie Collins (@DonnieCollinsTT) October 21, 2016
This turned into a rainy game-long back-and-forth in which my new Twitter buddies called reporters “lemmings” and said fans are growing tired of the “black cloud press.” You know, things that I always like to hear.
I responded that there’s a thing called impartiality, that they teach us in journalism school (mine happened to be Penn State) that you call it as you see it. It was a civil conversation all the way through (which is better than the guy from Hazleton who threatened to call my bosses and tell on me because my Ohio State pick was so lopsided), but it kept going.
Until I got in my seat in the Beaver Stadium press box the next day and saw this:
— David Leo (@bootsieleo) October 22, 2016
To which I replied:
— Donnie Collins (@DonnieCollinsTT) October 22, 2016
Well, a funny thing happened on the way to me being as right as I thought I’d be about this pick…
Hey, predictions are made to be wrong sometimes, and that was a bad one. David Leo and Joe Bianco, longtime Penn State fans both, were right. I was terribly wrong. And now, they get what they’ve earned.
They will make their predictions on my blog, starting this week with the Iowa game. Hope you enjoy it!
In the hours that followed Penn state’s second half destruction of Purdue, eerily similar to how hot Chris Imperiale can get on the back nine at Stonehedge, James Franklin started tweeting about Whiteout#2, and who can blame him?
A night game at Penn State, it is an event in and of itself to say the least. If you’re a college football fan, you need to go and if you’re a Penn state fan and have never seen one, shame on you. As the fans are tailgating and the light of the day fades to black, the energy that is building is palpable and cannot be totally captured unless you have experienced it. The magic of the night games was never more evident than it was for the Ohio state game, which probably ranks just behind the 2005 version for loudness.
If I were to tell you there is a ticket out there where fans truly believe they can affect the outcome of a game, fans would buy those in a heartbeat and that’s exactly how Penn State fans feel during the night games. It’s why the fans were on the field after the Ohio State game, because they felt so invested, that they actually helped the team. If you’ve been to these games you understand, and it is a big reason why coach Franklin is asking for the environment to be jumping Saturday night as it really is one of the best home field advantages in the country. So if you’re going, get loud and stay loud and believe that you can make a difference by giving the players a little more “juice” as Coach franklin would say.
No. 12 Penn State (6-2, 4-1) vs. Iowa (5-3, 3-2)
Penn State enters this game hotter than Tom Unovitch in the middle of a perfect 300 bowling game. An early stumbling block against Pittsburgh and what we call a smelling salt game against Michigan were just the right recipe to get these Lions cooking. Iowa will be storming into town fresh off a bye looking to exact revenge for 38-14 thumping they took at the hands of PSU in 2012.
WHEN IOWA HAS THE BALL
The combination of LeShun Daniels and Akrum Wadley will bring the 1-2 punch in Iows’s backfield. The duo has combined for over 1,200 yards rushing and 14 TDs on the season. Look for them to split carries but each get a fairly decent workload as coach Fernetz has said he will try to get both of them on the field at the same time. Quarterback C.J. Beathard brings senior leadership and, according to our LB scale, he rates out just slightly better than a game manager. So during the early going, expect to see some poise and big play capability. Look for Iowa early on to try take advantage of Penn state’s aggressive defensive play by calling misdirection’s, screens and reverses.
WHEN PSU HAS THE BALL
Look no further than Mr. Barkley. He’s a thoroughbred and just beginning to hit his stride. Barkley has compiled over 500 rushing yards in his past 3 games and with the growing confidence of the O-line, look for this to continue. One of the key matchups for the offensive line will be right in the middle with Brian Gaia lining up against the likes of Jaleel Johnson and Nathan Baztata. If Penn State can control that matchup, it will go a long way in the success the offense will have. If they can not, that will open the door for a huge game from Butkus award semifinalist linebacker Josey Jewell.
Mr. “All I Do Is Win Games” McSorley enters the game coming off his first career road win. No situation seems too big for McSorley as he is armed with a stable of receivers lead by Chris Godwin and TE Mike Gesicki.
We still believe that Miles Sanders is very close to breaking one (fastest guy in state since Joby Fawcett), but Iowa’s kick return team is astute at kicking them deep for touchbacks so he may not get the opportunity. John Reid will also be looking to atone for his muffed punt 2 weeks ago and Penn state needs to be careful with Iowa’s return game in particular Desmond King.
This very well may be the deciding factor in the game. Each team will get their opportunities but look for Coach Franklin’s chaos periods to have the Nits better prepared and to do a good job of limiting Iowa on these opportunities
Iowa is not only 15-3 straight up in true road venues over the past three and a half seasons, they are 15-3 against the spread in the same games. This is the best record of its kind in all of major college football (gambling is illegal for the record)….WELL WE AINT BUYING IT!!! Listen closely to that growing thumping sound coming out of the center of Pennsylvania, that’s the sound of the heart of a LION!!! All of those historical stats are just that, history!
We have Barkley going for 135 plus and 2 TD’s. McSorley throws for a TD and runs for one more score while amassing 290 yards through the air versus Iowas 12th ranked Big ten passing defense
Iowa starts off strong coming out fresh from a bye but nobody and I mean nobody can handle our wild card players of the game, Garret Sickels , Koa Farmer and emerging star Shareef Miller as they set the tone for the resurging D. The lights will be shining bright but its night night for Iowa and then the clocks go back for some extra time at the Skellar.
PENN STATE 31- IOWA 20
DONNIE’S NOTES: Just to clarify for those reading out of the area and might not be familiar with some of the names Dave and Joe mentioned…
-Chris Imperiale is the sports editor of The Times-Tribune. He fancies himself a golfer.
-Joby Fawcett is The Times-Tribune’s high school sports writer. He was indeed one of the fastest men in the state one time. That time was the 1980s. I can beat him now.
-Tom Unovitch is…well, I don’t know Tom Unovitch. But he must be a heck of a bowler.
-You can follow David (@bottsieleo) and Joe (@jbianc23) on Twitter. If their prediction is more accurate than mine this week, you’ll probably be hearing a lot from them.