I think we can all agree that a week off after the OSU blowout was not a bad idea for anyone, the Blue-White roundtable included. After an extra week of rest, we’re back at it thanks to Adam over at Black Shoe Diaries. Make sure you check out The 50 Yard Lion, JoePa’s Doghouse, and The Nittany Lions Den as well. Here’s what Eric and I had to say this week:
Talk about Bill Belton’s performance last week against Illinois. What is he doing now that is different than before? What has made him so effective recently?
Matt: I’m not sure there’s a huge difference between what he was doing before versus what he’s been doing now. By in large, I feel like he’s been pretty effective most of the season. Going back a season, the obvious answer is the injury. O’Brien alluded to it earlier this week, but the high ankle sprain noticeably took away his quickness a year ago. The other key change has been confidence. Not only does he have it in himself after a strong season, but he’s gained the trust of the coaching staff.
Eric: I was very impressed by Bill Belton’s performance against Illinois. For a guy like him who’s more of a shifty, quick kind of running back, carrying the ball 36 times can’t be easy. I don’t think he’s doing a whole lot differently, I just think that now since he’s the number one back and he’s getting more touches, he’s showing what he’s capable of. His elusiveness and ability to break tackles have certainly been great assets, but I think he can be even better if he runs more north/south instead of east/west.
This team has had it’s ups and downs this season, pulling out heart stopping overtime victories as well as crushing defeats. Is Penn State that inconsistent, or is the line between victory and blowout really that fine?
Matt: Quite frankly, I just don’t think Penn State is much more than an average team. The defense is relying on about 2.5 linebackers, and a bunch of DBs that won’t start for many other teams, and certainly none in the upper reaches of the Big 10, or FBS. Youth, inexperience and the depth issues have definitely made that line pretty fine.
Eric: It’s inconsistency combined with the facts that other teams have more players available, more talent and sometimes just a better game plan. Maybe Penn State is overlooking and underestimating some teams, but I believe that Bill O’Brien has them prepared every week. It’s just a matter of executing on a week-to-week basis, which is something that Penn State has struggled with this season.
Obviously the 1999 Minnesota game is etched into Penn State memories. Ignore that. What’s the most memorable Minnesota game outside of 1999’s horror show.
Matt: I think everyone remembers the 2005 win over Minnesota, who was a top 20 team at the time, and PSU just crushed them. I had a pretty good time, at least from what I was told, at the 2010 game in Minneapolis when McGloin made his debut as well.
Eric: Like I said in previous roundtables, I’m not someone who has been a lifelong Penn State football fan. The only game I can remember well was when Penn State won at Minnesota my freshman year in 2010. That was the game where Rob Bolden suffered a concussion and Matt McGloin came in to replace him. McGloin hit Derek Moye for a long touchdown on his first pass of the game and eventually led Penn State to the win. If Bolden never got a concussion, who knows if McGloin would even be in the NFL right now.
Matt: The Minnesota offense should matchup with the strength of PSU’s defense, which is stopping the run. They don’t spread you out, and don’t have a ton of speed or athleticism on the outside, which has been PSU’s achilles heal. On the other side, PSU has to get on the board and build a lead early, because with the lack of depth on D, Minnesota’s power game will wear the Lions down. I think they do that, and hang on for a tough 24-20 win.
Eric: Minnesota is a hot team and after the way Penn State performed against Illinois, I’m a little worried. I think Minnesota wins a close one, 28-21.