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Sluggish Penn State scores 24 point in second half to overcome lifeless Hoosiers, 34-7
State College, PA - Maybe it was the disappointing 24-23 loss to Iowa last week that basically removed Penn State from national championship contention, or maybe it was playing (3-8,1-6) Indiana the week before its Big Ten Championship showdown with Michigan State (9-2, 6-1), but whatever it was, Penn State (10-1,6-1) played sluggishly throughout the first half not taking advantage of several Indiana miscues, and eventually overcame the punch-less Hoosiers in the second half easing their way into a 34-7 victory before a relatively quiet crowd. The Lions, and QB Daryll Clark in particular, better come out of their two-game funk next week if they want to play for the Big Ten championship and head to Pasadena for only their second trip ever to the Rose Bowl since joining the Big Ten in 1993. On a rainy, miserable day, Collegefootballfan.com watched Penn State under Joe Paterno play for the 80th time since 1979 and watched them capture their 60th win, both tops in the annals of CFF.com.
A Todd Rubin INT in the first half after pinning IU near their goal line looked like an easy set up for a PSU score, but Clark fumbled the ball away at the one. His passes generally had no zip to them all day. He didn't look like the dominating QB we'd seen earlier in the season. You wondered if the concussion suffered at Ohio State still affects him. After a scoreless first period, Penn State finally scored on a 39-yard pass from Clark to Derrick Williams to give PSU a 7-0 lead. Feeling literally and figuratively under the weather on a foggy, cloudy, rainy afternoon, I had to run to the men's room for the first time I can remember during game action, and missed IU's Marcus Thigpen scamper for a 57-yard TD run. I was not allowed to leave again for PSU's sake. State had a good chance to score another TD following a blocked punt at the IU 20-yard line before the half, but instead they only settled for a 32-yard FG by Kevin Kelly for a 10-7 lead. The field was deemed too wet, and the PSU Blue Band performed as they had during the pre-game from their seats in the stands.
Penn State's offense woke up in the third quarter. Evan Royster ran in for a 19-yard score on the first possession. After taking over deep in IU territory, Kelly kicked a 36-yard FG, and Clark connected with Deon Butler on a 6-yrd TD pass to take a 27-7 lead over the visitors. Penn State's defense held IU to 180 total yards and only six first downs on the day. Seventy-six yards came on IU's two-play scoring drive that I missed. Clark finished the day 20 for 36 with 240 yards passing, but many of his passes were off target and ripe for picking against a good defense. Many fans pondered bringing back-up QB Pat Devlin into the game. Clark seemed off despite his stats. Devlin entered late in the game. Derrick Williams finished PSU's scoring with a 36-yard run for the 34-7 win. Hopefully the Lions and their fans will show up with a little more intensity next weekend when the Spartans come calling to dash any Nittany Lion Rose Bowl hopes.
Extra points: GGA Eric Koreivo and I attended the Mendham-Phillipsburg NJSIAA/Gatorade football playoff game in Phillipsburg Friday night on the way out to State College. A friend, Mike Gofreddo, is an assistant with Mendham. P-Burg won, 14-0. We encountered some of the thickest fog ever driven in heading up RT. 309 over hills on the way to Tamaqua,PA and then on I-81 North to Route 80. Luckily there weren't a lot of other people out, but we slowed to about 20 mph because we couldn't see more than one to two road reflectors on the road ahead of us. The entrance on to 81 was treacherous as it was a continuous curve. All I could follow was the winding concrete wall.
Before the noon kick-off, Eric and I hung out at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, Penn State's baseball stadium adjacent to Beaver Stadium. The stadium is also home to the State College Spikes, short-season A League affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. We sat under cover as a steady rain fell watching Game Day on ESPN on the big screen in left field. It was perfect for waiting for a game on a rainy but warm day. The concessions and restrooms are open. Tables under cover let us spread out to watch the pre-game show although we needed binoculars to read some of the streamers below. Did ESPN really televise the Hampton-Florida A&M game? We've seen Hampton play twice and watched their band perform last year at the Princeton game. We'll have to find out if A&M ever brings their band up when they visit Delaware State.
Eric wouldn't believe my pre-game 41-7 PSU victory prediction, especially after the scoreless first period. One more late score and extra point would have put me dead on!
John and Kelle Massimilla enjoyed the game in a dry suite hosted by York International. They were able to invite Eric and me up for a post-game celebration. Waiting on line to the elevators after the game, several people came by to inquire what we were waiting on line for. Entry was by invitation only. The suites were spacious and homey - a big window for the view of Beaver Station in a living room setting with kitchenette and catered food. Several TV monitors were also in the suite to watch the PSU games keep up with action throughout the country. A lounge behind the suites provided a great view of tailgating and the surrounding mountains including Mt. Nittany. John and Kelle certainly timed it right as far as the rainy weather was concerned. It was also a nice way to end the day before our 3-1/2 hour drive home.