Thursday, November 03, 2005

Week Ten: #14 Wisconsin (8-1, 5-1) at #10 Penn State (8-1, 5-1)

This season as simply flown by. The 2004 season seemed to take forever to end. It was one brutal loss after another because the offense was less creative than that of a pee wee team. Now that Penn State has started 8-1, it feels like the season just started. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Penn State has two regular season and one bowl game left in the 2005 season, one that will be looked upon as the reemergence of Penn State football. The thing that many people must remember about 2002, Penn State's last bowl team, was that it was led by a mostly senior team that featured six first and second round draft picks. This Penn State team is different. While there are many important seniors, Robinson, Zemaitis, Hali, Paxson, Reed, Harrell, among others graduating, the corps of the team is made up of young players. While having so many new starters on both lines, a brand new secondary, and breaking in a new starting QB will likely prevent Penn State from repeating the success of this season, they will be far from slipping back to mediocrity. Now on to the Wisconsin game.

Penn State must do only one thing to win this game- stop Brian Calhoun. While it is easier said than done, keep in mind that Penn State's defense absolutely shutdown Minnesota's Laurence Maroney way back in early October. All of the "Maroney for Heisman" campaiging died and we haven't heard a whole heck of a lot about him since. Now Penn State has a chance to do the same to Calhoun, who has been gaining some Heisman momentum. Happy Valley was once known as the Heisman Graveyard, hopefully Calhoun will be the next to have his canidacy derailed at the hands of the Nittany Lions. The only other concern for the Nittany Lions will be stopping fullback Matt Bernstrein. Bernstein was one of the few backs all season to really hammer away at the PSU defense last season in the Badgers' 13-0 win in Madison. John Stocco shouldn't scare the Penn State defensive backs. If Stocco is forced to throw, Penn State will have a field day.

Unlike last season, Penn State should have no problem scoring points on the Wisconsin defense. The Badgers defense took a large hit after last season, losing a large chunk of their stellar defensive unit. If Illinois QB Tim Brasic can run for over 100 yards on the Badgers, Michael Robinson should have no problem reaching that mark. Tony Hunt should be able to break 100 yards as well. As long as Robinson continues to get the ball to Deon Butler and Jordan Norwood through the air and mix in Justin King, PSU will easily score enough to win.

This Penn State team has come too far to let this one slip away. No one believed that this team would make it this far, myself included. If someone told me in August that PSU and Wisconsin would be playing , for all intents and purposes, the Big Ten championship game on November 5th, I would have laughed. I never would have expected Penn State to be here and I didn't think Wisconsin would be here. I really thought that Wisconsin would struggle to reach a bowl game. Wisconsin has turned out to have a nice team but I think their magic ride ends in Happy Valley. If the game was in Madison, I would feel differently but the seniors want to go out on a strong note, the fans will be a big boost and Paternoville, the student tent community, is ready to get wild. The Nittany Lions will leave everything on the field, win or loss.

Penn State's Keys to Victory:
  • Shutdown Calhoun and Bernstein
  • Let Robinson run wild
  • Get the ball in King's hands
  • Keep the defense on the sidelines and as well rested as possible

My Prediction- Penn State 31, Wisconsin 13

The Badgers will put up a good fight but Penn State will keep Calhoun from running wild and slow down the Badgers offense. The Nittany Lions will add a late touchdown to make it look a little better on the scoreboard.


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