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Why you need to know about Oregon State, what you need to know, and why it should piss you off

Rant Jacobs

Earlier this year, I did an article reviewing the Oregon State vs. USC game, writing about how happy I was that USC had another “fall from grace” game after underestimating an Oregon State team that had a lot to prove.  Much of this came from my anger towards USC’s apparent dynasty. Well, that and I wanted USC to make way for my rising Penn State Nittany Lions in the weekly polls.  Plus, it was great to see the #1 team in the country lose to a team that Penn State had recently pulverized.

Fast forward 8 weeks and now I’m fretting like an old woman over the outcome of that contest. (Editor’s note: And he’s taken up sewing – he nitted me a sweater with my name on it the other day. What the hell am I going to do with a sweater that says “Editor” on it, wear it to the club? Yeah, that should get the ladies hot). Why, you say?  Because since then, Oregon State has miraculously rattled off 5 straight conference wins and quietly taken control of their own destiny after losing their season opener to pathetic conference foe Stanford!  My celebration has come back to bite me in the ass!  With a vengeance! (Editor’s note: You should get a tetanus shot! You don’t know where your celebration has been!)

Oregon State needs only two conference wins (against Arizona and Oregon) to catch the PAC-10 title in their fucking beaver tails and swim southward to the Rose Bowl to face my beloved Nittany Lions, who stomped them in the second week of the season. I can’t believe it!  How has this happened? (Editor’s note: Fate is a cruel temptress, Rant).

Whew…and I’m spent.  I just needed to get that out.

I need to relax when I think about Oregon State though, as both Oregon and Arizona can put points on the board. They are ranked 10th and 11th in the nation in scoring – these games shouldn’t be “gimmes”.  But then I remember that Oregon State’s defense ranks 15th in the country in yards allowed, so I’m not getting too comfortable.

Somehow, Oregon State has morphed into a possible BCS team after their 45-14 drubbing in Happy Valley.  Granted, they play in the pillow-soft PAC-10, but their only other loss was a 31-28 squeaker against Utah, a team currently ranked above PSU in the BCS standings at 7, and looking to make a BCS appearance of their own.  Say what you want about Oregon State (like only having a single quality win this year against USC), but this team has some consistent playmakers that have helped to turn their season around.

The most consistent playmaker responsible for this feat has been freshman sensation Jacquizz Rodgers: the lightning quick, miniaturized 5’6″ halfback from Texas. (Editor’s note: There will be a jacquizz at the end of this post).  Rodgers has sprinted past the century mark in 7 games this season, while piling up 1233 rushing yards and 12 total TDs (averaging 123 yards per game, 10th best in the nation). 

I remember hearing some confused commentator asking his buddies why Rodgers wasn’t as highly recruited by any of the big name schools from his home state of Texas and thinking, Yeah, why is that?  Then I realized that trying to pinpoint ALL of the top high school talent in the entire state of Texas is like trying to staple Jell-O to a wall. (Editor’s note: I’ll bet you Bill Cosby could staple Jell-O to a wall…) 

Rodgers and the rest of his crew are ready to take the PAC-10 in their own hands and head back for a rematch against Penn State in Pasadena, assuming they both win out. That would be an unacceptable end to a Penn State season that broke my heart in Iowa City.  (Editor’s note: That sounds like a folk song I could get down to: Oh, PSU / What did you do? / You left me feeling shitty / When you broke my heart in Iowa City). Oregon State may have morphed into a new beast after their early letdowns, but they are not a worthy team for the Rose Bowl, especially not against my Lions, damnit.

But first things first – Penn State has its hands full this weekend with Javon Ringer and the Michigan State Spartans.  Get past them and at least I can say we have a Big Ten title to celebrate before I start bitching and moaning about Oregon State all over again.

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From the Nosebleeds – The Texas Tech Red Mutants are Freakishly Good

Ryan Jacobs

What a fucking dismal weekend of sporting predictions and results it was. At least it was for me: my beloved Nittany Lions lost a heartbreaker to Iowa, ending their National Championship aspirations; the Eagles lost in usual fashion to the Giants to keep them tied for dead last in the highly competitive NFC East; and my prediction of an Oklahoma State upset became a joke. I could spend this whole time talking about why Penn State lost, but I’m not. I’m too hurt by the poor performance of a team that wasn’t as hungry as it should have been.

No, I think I’ll talk about Texas Tech, instead.

On Saturday night, I had another chance to watch the swarming horde that is the Texas Tech Red Raiders. It was like I was watching the movie Aliens all over again, yet this time the aliens resembled a set of human figures decked out in Black football apparel (instead of giant, black, insect looking creatures). I was almost waiting for a company of futuristic marines led by Sigourney Weaver to storm the field and slaughter the Tech horde in a barrage of gun fire, laser beams, and flamethrowers (Editor’s note: Could you imagine the ratings for that?) I determined that this Texas Tech football team is not human. (Editor’s note: But they are still people, so let’s be sensitive, okay?)

In fact, the players are genetically engineered freaks; mutants created in a lab. Many college football analysts call Mike Leech the “mad scientist” for his extensive input and manipulation of the college spread offense (and also because of his quirky character). But most people don’t realize how literally that name should be taken.

You see, Mike Leech got together with the scientists from the biochemistry and genetics departments at Texas Tech and discovered a way to successfully splice Michael Crabtree’s genes with the DNA of a cheetah. After this discovery, they spawned a whole team of offensive playmakers and then set them loose on the Big 12 conference under the command of Graham Harrell, senior brigadier football general of the Texas Tech mutant squad. (Editor’s note: Wolverine is sooo going to be a first round draft pick). Like his soldiers, Harrell is also a mutant DNA Makeup: one-half Joe Montana, one-half peregrine falcon, as evidenced by his uncanny vision. (Editor’s note: Kind of like how Chris Bosh is one-half person, one-half raptor. And not even because he plays for the Raptors – look at him, man! He looks like a friggin’ raptor!)

This may all sound funny (Editor’s note: Meh) but Tech’s offense certainly is not. Seriously, they are out of fucking control. If you didn’t watch Saturday’s game, I urge you to at least watch the highlights. Texas Tech played very good defense, especially against an Oklahoma State team that ranked 7th in total offense (and 6th in scoring), allowing only 20 points. But it was the offense that stole the show in this game. Graham Harrell was UNSTOPPABLE. He had 5 different receivers with at least 5 catches; 4 of those 5 had at least 77 yards receiving and 3 of those 5 split Harrell’s 6 passing TDs. Everybody was wide open.

Mike Leech spread out the Oklahoma State defense so much that they couldn’t even “bend”; all they did was “break”. (Editor’s note: So much dirty joke potential in there, I went cross-eyed). If receivers were covered downfield, Harrell simply flicked the ball to his safety valve: usually a running back in the flat. So many Tech players were making so many plays across the field that the Cowboys simply could not account for a running back coming out of the backfield.

Harrell always had an exit strategy. Even if he didn’t have a dump off/hot route, he made plays outside the pocket and bought time so that he could telepathically order his mutant receivers (utilizing their mutant abilities) to come back on their routes so that he could throw to them. It didn’t matter what mutant caught the ball, though, because they all ended up juking and/or running away from at least one Cowboy defender after the catch.

Every player who touched the ball for Tech did their best  Reggie Bush impression, especially the player who currently garners the number 5: the man himself, Michael Crabtree. Somebody please give this kid a pass to the NFL right now, I want the Eagles to pick him up. Strength, speed, size, vision, hands, moves…Crabtree has it all. (Editor’s note: Legs that go all day, perky breasts…wait, sorry, I was getting my sexual fantasies mixed up with Jacobs’ sexual fantasies…sorry about that). He was plucking Red Raider bullets out of the air like they were his prey, attacking the Oklahoma State defense with a hunger for success.

Harrell led his team to 8 straight touchdown drives, seven of those consisting of 8 plays or more, averaging over 10 plays per drive in that span. Amazing. He finished 40-50 for 456 yards and 6 TDs. Insane.

NFL Crystal Ball Prediction: Harrell, like Colt Brennan before him, has put up freakish numbers running the spread. Yet NFL scouts will still criticize this amazing QB talent due to the steep learning curve for NFL quarterbacks. (Editor’s note: And for the fact that no NFL team runs the style of offense that he uses, which very well could be masking deficiencies in his mechanics and don’t give NFL coordinators an idea of how he would make his reads in the pros). But those scouts will soon realize that Harrell is a mutant, and we all know the NFL has made a home for many freak/mutant players such as Randy Moss, Deion Sanders, Antonio Cromartie, etc. (Editor’s note: I guess we can start calling Roger Goodell “Professor G?”)

I think I was most impressed with how well Tech was able to grind out drives, mixing in a solid ground game with their video-game passing offense. Speaking of video games, I heard the Texas Tech band playing music from Nintendo’s Mario, the NES version, during the game. I thought that was great. The whole university understands the unreal numbers that their team puts up and supports the whole videogame, slang reference thing going on wholeheartedly. (Editor’s note: That, ladies and gentlemen, is what we in the business call “investigative reporting.” Can’t get that anywhere but here, people).

So I guess I’m buying into the whole Texas Tech thing; or, at the very least, recognizing their talent. They have an endless stable of playmakers and I can’t figure out who would be able to slow them down enough to keep pace with the points they can score. Florida perhaps? Florida’s offense is explosive in its own right and their defense might be able to do just enough to get by. USC? Their defense might be the best in the country, though I don’t know if even they could stop the Texas Tech Mutant Raiders.

I would assume the best defense against Tech would be a really balanced offense that could grind out drives of their own, keeping Harrell and the mutants off the field. But Tech’s defense looks like they can step up and play against some of the best offenses in the country (Texas, Oklahoma State, Kansas). That being said, they do have to play against the cyborg-led Sooners next week, featuring an offense that I feel can hang with Tech. If they can survive that game, however, it should be smooth sailing for the Red Raiders. Which is what I said about Penn State after they beat Ohio State, and look what happened there. Damnit. Keeping a high degree of intensity for an entire season is hard to accomplish for any team. Let’s see if Tech has what it takes to keep fighting, because as much as I like them, I’m still not completely convinced.

Texas Tech has one of the best teams in the country; they deserve to be respected. And if they don’t hit any speed bumps in the next couple of weeks, they may cruise right on into a BCS National Championship birth.

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Previewing Penn State…and The Official 2008 Rally Post

(Editor’s note: The Pundit started writing this post at approximately the same time as the Phillies scored their first run in the 4th inning of their game against the Mets. Why is this being mentioned in a preview for Penn State football? Read on, Punditeers.)

With my NFL preview starting on Thursday night, I realized I had failed to preview another sport I hold dear to my heart: College Football (Editor’s note: Plus, the Phillies are down 7-1 right now; methinks The Pundit needs distraction). I’m not going to do a full college football preview, but I am going to highlight a few points about my favorite team, the Penn State Nittany Lions. Now, I know what you’re saying: Why Pun, didn’t you go to Temple? Well, um, yes, I did, and I grew up following their basketball team very closely, still do. But football? Let me give the Andy Reid response here: “I’m happy to see that Al Golden has the team moving in the right direction, and I’ll continue to keep my eyes on them.” For now, though, I’m with Penn State, the team I’ve been watching intently since I was a wee little tike (Editor’s note: Now he’s just a wee little Pundit).

The Spread HD

Wait, did the word “spread” just appear in an article about Penn State? The same ground-and-pound, bruise-and-cruise, crush-and-rush Penn State of Joe Paterno lure? (Editor’s note: This writing is bore-and-snore). That’s right, folks, the new Penn State offense will apparently be a marriage of the new-school spread and the old-school wishbone. Expect to see receivers motioning to the backfield before the snap, both quarterback-halfback and quarterback-receiver options, and a passing attack more akin to an NFL style scheme. The idea, essentially, is to get Penn State’s playmakers, such as Derrick Williams, into mismatches against the opposing team’s defense. They certainly have skill position talent; it will be interesting to see if this new scheme can create opportunities for their ballers to excel.

(Editor’s note: The Phillies just cut a 7-1 deficit to 7-5 after 2-run HR’s by Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard. Apparently, this article is good luck. Could be a long article.)

Lead us to the promised land, Daryll Clark

Joe Paterno has announced that Daryll Clark will be the starter against the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (Editor’s note: What in God’s green earth is a Chanticleer? Who the hell fears a Chanticleer?). Doesn’t mean we won’t see Pat Devlin at some point this season, or even that both won’t occasionally share the field; remember, Clark is a good runner. It seems, though, that Clark’s ability to threaten the defense with both his arm and his legs is a slightly better fit for the new “Spread HD.”

We know the receivers got game, but who are the RB’s?

They would be Evan Royster and Stephfon Green. Royster had a solid campaign his freshman year, and just might be the surprise star of Penn State’s season. All indications are that he is a very solid starter and should be productive. Then, there’s Mr. Green, he of the 4.25 forty. Call him High Times, ’cause he’s blazin’ (Editor’s note: Yo homie, The Pundit be working maaaaad street cred right there). He looks as though he’ll be threat to take it to the house every time he touches the ball. Just watch the video here (click on the video to the right of the page), and try not to giggle too loud (Editor’s note: Lucy, could you get the Pundit some new drawers? Yeah, he’s watching Stephfon Green highlights again…)

Now don’t get defensive, but…

…the Penn State defense may not be quite as solid as in year’s past. The suspensions to Chris Baker and Phillip Taylor at DT will hurt a unit that wasn’t really stellar last year to begin with, and recently lost Devon Still. Obviously, losing Justin King, Dan Connor and Sean Lee will hurt. Especially Connor and Lee, tackling machines who set an aggressive tone for the defense. Will A.J. Wallace step up and blanket the other team’s number one wideout? Can the defensive ends, namely stud Maurice Evans, get enough of a rush to take some of the pressure off of a secondary with question marks? The Penn State offense, in a serious role reversal, may have to carry the defense this year. (Editor’s note: The Pun loves role reversals – he’s a real 21st century guy).

Should I stay or should I go now?

The Pundit highly doubts Joe Paterno is all that concerned with this question (Editor’s note: Or The Clash, for that matter). But if Penn State falters, is it time for Joe to step down? Many question whether or not he’s lost a bit of control over the program, especially given Penn State’s recent player transgressions. And he has certainly loosened his reins on game planning; one has to wonder if he’s become a figurehead, much like Florida State’s Bobby Bowden. The Pundit, for one, thinks that Joe Paterno, the most important figure Penn State football has ever had, should be carted to the field each week on a golden throne. And I also think that Paterno should delegate – extensively – from that throne.

(Editor’s note: Jimmy Rollins just hit an RBI single to close the gap to 7-6 in the bottom of the eighth. Keep up the rally writing, Pun.)

Oh, right. There are other teams to consider.

So, apparently Ohio State is good this year. Really good. The October 25th game, in Columbus, could be a match-up that determines the Big East champion. If, that is, Penn State can survive a late September / early October juggernaut of a schedule, that includes games against Illinois, Purdue (away), Wisconsin (away), and Michigan, the mystery of the Big Ten this year. Illinois still has QB Juice Williams and WR Arrelious Benn, and a better defense then some might think. Their running game, last year’s strength, is this year’s mystery, and may determine their fate. Wisconsin brings back 19 starters, and should run the ball effectively with P.J. Hill and solid RB depth. Oh, and Travis Beckum, their ridiculous All-American tight end, should only improve. Ohio State has my preseason pick for the Heisman, Beanie Wells, and enough talent to make Pete Carroll jealous. I firmly believe that these three teams should be the only three that threatens PSU this year, unless they underachieve, which they are fully capable of doing.

(Editor’s note: Eric Bruntlett just tied the game with a two-out, bottom of the 9th double. Carlos Ruiz steps to the plate, with the chance of making this, as The Pundit is calling it, The Official Rally Post. Ohhhhh baby, this is getting good).

So what’s gonna happen, Pundit?

State should coast against Coastal Carolina (Editor’s note: Ugggghhhh). Don’t give a dam about Oregon State, we’ve got a few more bullets in our holster. Syracuse? Oh brother. Temple? Well, um, you know they’ll come out swinging. (Editor’s note: Paging Mr. Reid). Then its Illinois, a game that I am scared of. Juice Williams is the type of player who can beat a team all on his lonesome; he did it last year to Ohio State. And if Illinois beats Missouri in their opener, they will have a lot of confidence coming into their meeting with Penn State. That being said, Beaver Stadium can quickly shake any team’s confidence. Plus, I don’t believe Illinois will beat Missouri – they have a lot to prove this year. Penn State in a scorefest. (Editor’s note: I could use more “scorefests” in my life) Purdue won’t be easy, but they should survive them. Wisconsin is a tough call. I think they’ll run the ball on Penn State, control the clock, and keep the ball out of the hands of the Penn State offense. Much as it pains me to say it, I think they’ll beat State in a hard-fought redemption game. (Editor’s note: Blasphemy!) Then, a huge test against Michigan. Wait, Michigan? That’s right, for a slew of reasons. For one, how will Penn State respond to their first loss? Will they be looking ahead to Ohio State? Not to mention that Michigan still has talent, and won’t roll over. This will be the character game of Penn State’s season, and I think they will respond, winning with a strong defensive performance after their disappointing showing against Wisconsin. Then, to Ohio State. I don’t think PSU can beat them in their house, unless something crazy happens. Too much talent for the damn Buckeyes, and just enough questions for Penn State. I’m afraid that, with the conference championship out of reach after losses to Wisconsin and Ohio State, they’ll lose focus and drop their game against Iowa. I don’t think, in any other circumstance, that this team could lose to Iowa, but in this case, with the Chip basically out of reach, they come out flat in a heart breaker for Penn State fans. They’ll regain their focus and win their last two, getting into a bowl, but their season will end with the bittersweet aftertaste of “what might have been”. Fact is, I feel as though this team is just a few key components away from claiming the Big Ten, and if they avoid Michigan and Iowa letdowns, could deliver a stellar showing. Should be an exciting and intriguing season in Happy Valley.

(Editor’s note: So, despite the fact that The Pundit is devoid of new content, and wanted this post to be finished hours ago, he refuses to finish it until the Phillies game is over for fear of ending its previous luck. He is steadfastly holding to the notion that if the Phillies win, this will become their Official 2008 Rally Post. Despite the fact that it is about Penn State Football. So, he continues to edit and add links and slightly modify filler sentences. Aaargghhh. Top of the 12th. Let’s go, boys!)

(Editor’s note: Top of the 13th. The Pundit refueses to end the post and watch the game. He hasn’t eaten in about 9 hours. He just exclaimed his love for swivel chairs. He’ll only turn around after hearing what is happening – he refuses to simply watch the game. He’s friggin’ batty, if you ask me. This is the classic case of a ridiculous fan thinking that they can somehow influence the result of a game by performing a rite of superstition. Holy shit, T-Mac just made a Penn State reference on the broadcast – something about Wheels’ notebook. It’s a sign, people. Go Phils!)

(Editor’s note: THE PHILLIES WIN!!! WHAT A GAME!!! They finally cap their magical comeback on a one out, bases load hit to center field by Chris Coste. A strange finish to the game. Shane Victorino started the inning with a triple. The Mets proceeded to intentionally walk the next two Phillies because the Phillies were out of bench players and had to send Brett Myers up to the plate. Charlie Manuel specifically instructed Myers not to swing so that he wouldn’t potentially hit into a double play. Myers was rung up, and the Coste shot would have likely been caught had Myers hit into a double play. As it was, Beltran was playing in and wouldn’t have had a play at the plate even had he been able to catch it. A crazy game with multiple moments of strange baseball strategy. Plus, hoping to avoid watching the game, The Pundit stumbled upon this article. Look where this schmuck predicts Penn State to finish! So, The Pundit can finally end his Penn State Preview. And, apparently, the Official 2008 Rally Post. He’s mumbling something about how this better be a great omen for PSU this year. Lucy, peel him out of the swivel chair, its time to go home.)

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