Penn State on Track to be the Biggest Bust of the Season
Penn State Has Talent, Is Ranked In Most Polls
And Is On Track To Be Biggest Bust Of Season
Second Game Of Season At Alabama Will Tell All
Are Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints
Doomed Because They Won The Big One Last Season?
Read All About It Right Here Tomorrow
By Kelso Sturgeon
One of the biggest challenges of each new college football season is wading through the stories, the data, the endless supply of optimistic press releases and the hype in order to extract reality from the fiction that is written about most teams. To do less is an invitation to financial disaster.
There is no bigger mistake than to simply assume a team with a rich football tradition will once again be a dominating national power-and this brings me to Penn State, just such a team that on the basis of its past reputation and blind devotion of the media is nationally ranked in post pre-season polls as the 2010 season approaches.
With all due respect to the Nittany Lions and their legions of fans, it is not going to happen this season. The team that has gone 11-2 the past two seasons and 51-13 over the past five may be fortunate to win seven or eight games this season.
Penn State has figuratively been caught with its pants down-without a legitimate big-time college quarterback, and with special teams that may be among the worst among the 120 NCAA I-A football schools. You cannot win at the highest level of college football without a top-flight, blue-chip quarterback.
In analyzing teams and rating them for the 2010 season, I put Virginia Tech to the head of the class as my choice to win the national championship this season and did not include Penn State in my top 25. It was not an oversight but the results of a four-month fact finding mission to separate fact from fiction in getting ready to win in the betting arena.
Penn State, which opens the season against NCAA Division II Youngstown State, which it beat 37-3 four seasons ago, and will more than likely be 3-1 four games into the season, since two of its next three games will come against Temple, which it beat 31-6 last season and against which it is 35-3-1 overall, and against Kent State.
However, reality will strike in the second game of the season when the Nittany Lions go to Tuscaloosa to play national champion Alabama which, despite key losses from last year's 14-0 team is loaded on both sides of the ball.
You can take it to the bank right now the Crimson Tide, which are 38-point favorites over San Jose State in their opener, will reveal every weakness Penn State has-and it won't be pretty.
Penn State Does Not Have What It Takes This Season
There are less than 10 things a college football team needs to have to win at the highest level of play and it all begins with a top-flight blue-chip quarterback, an outstanding offensive line, a top-flight blue-chip running back, at least one game-breaking player, an outstanding defense and special teams that can bail you out of unexpected jams. Without these six ingredients you will be vulnerable in every game you play and have absolutely no chance to get to get to the big one.
Here is how Penn State stands with these five things:
There are four players competing for the starting quarterback spot-headed by sophomore Kevin Newsome, a former walk-on named Matthew McGoin and two guys named "Joe". Newsome backed up Daryll Clark last season-mostly in mop-up situations-and looked terrible in spring practice. None of the four quarterbacks on which the Nittany Lions are counting resembles a major leaguer and between them have thrown a total of 13 passes in college games. This is very bad news for a team that has always built its offense around its quarterback. Grade: D
Penn State always has an outstanding offensive line and there is no reason to think it will be anything but that this season. Grade B
The Nittany Lions have an outstanding running back in Evan Royster who has rushed for more than 1,000 yards the past two seasons and who is within 480 yards of passing Kurt Warner's school record 3,398 yards rushing. With weak play at quarterback, Royster is going to find himself the focus of defenses and will have a far more difficult time being successful this season. Grade: A
Royster definitely is a game-breaker. Grade A
On defense, one can expect the Nittany Lions to again be solid but by no means great. They have to replace all three linebackers from last year. Grade B
Special teams. Two words describe this element-simply awful. The team has no proven punter, no tired and true field goal kicker and may be just as bad as last year when it ranked 117th in punt coverage with its own punting team was ranked 114th. The kickoff team ranked 107th and the punt return team 106th. GRADE F
One does not have to be a genius to see the difficulty Penn State is going to have in competing against teams that have all the requirements for success.
The costly breakdown will begin at quarterback and the special teams will put the icing on the cake.
My apologies to Penn State fans, but in my world, where the score is kept with money, only the facts matter.
Money Shows For Bengals In Hall Of Fame Game
The National Football League pre-season begins Sunday when the Dallas Cowboys and the Cincinnati Bengals meet in the nationally televised (NBC) Hall of Fame Game from Canton, OH, and it is the latter that is getting the early action.
This game opened as a pick'em affair and the Bengals are now 2.5-point favorites.
Here are all the current betting lines.
Current Week 1 Pre-Season NFL Betting Lines
(Home Team In CAPS)
Sunday, August 8
Hall Of Fame Game
Cincinnati Bengals -2.5 over Dallas Cowboys
Thursday, August 12
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS -1.5 over New Orleans Saints
BALTIMORE RAVENS -3 over Carolina Panthers
DALLAS COWBOYS (No Line) vs. Oakland Raiders
Friday, August 13
PHILADELHIA EAGLES -3 over Jacksonville Jaguars
WASHINGTON REDSKINS -3.5 over Buffalo Bills
ATLANTA FALCONS -3.5 over Kansas City Chiefs
Saturday, August 14
MIAMI DOLPHINS -3.5 over Tampa Bay Buccaneers
PITTSBURGH STEELERS -2.5 over Detroit Lions
ARIZONA CARDINALS Pick'em vs. Houston Texans
Minnesota Vikings -1 over ST. LOUIS RAMS
GREEN BAY PACKERS -2.5 over Cleveland Browns
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS -3 over Chicago Bears
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS -3.5 over Tennessee Titans
Sunday, August 15
San Francisco 49ers -3 over INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
CINCINNATI BENGALS (No Line) vs. Denver Broncos
Monday, August 16
NEW YORK JETS Pick'em vs. New York Giants
* * * *
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