October 17, 2011
Posted by Joe Chuba
Nittany Lion play-by-play voice Steve Jones analyses Penn State’s homecoming victory over Purdue, and previews the primetime matchup with Northwestern.
There is an interesting debate after the game Saturday about whether just winning is enough. On the national scene, unfortunately, style points mean something. Just winning on the national scene is not enough because voters don’t see games. They usually just see scores. It is hard to see every game. I know that first hand because I see Penn State and maybe one or two other games. If it is a road game, I usually see Penn State and maybe a portion of another game. The highlight packages are my lifeline as to what happened during a Saturday.
But, where everyone misses the point completely is here: a win is a win in conference play. There are no style points. The team with the most wins gets the division title and a trip to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship Game. And, the winner of that game gets an automatic BCS bid.
Believe me, I do know that Penn State needs to be a factor on the national scene but the conference has importance as well.
Penn State was an independent so long that even 19 seasons into the Big Ten some people can’t wrap their arms around a conference title. They especially can’t wrap their arms around this divisional set up. I asked a reporter to go into the parking lot, and ask as many people as possible who they would root for if Michigan played Illinois. I predicted everyone would say Illinois. I was right. Why? Penn State fans have an intense rivalry with Michigan. But, Penn State fans should want Michigan to win. Michigan has no bearing at all on Penn State until they play a Leaders Division rival, which Illinois is. For example, the Michigan-Michigan State game, while intriguing, had no bearing on Penn State’s regular season at all.
It will take a while for everyone to get used to how this works.
Now, Northwestern is next. Dan Persa is just an incredible college quarterback. He moves, he makes plays, he’s accurate, and he leads. His return from an Achilles injury is incredible, months ahead of schedule. Thus, you can add in guts.
Now they add in Kain Colter who leads the team in rushing, is fifth leading receiver, and has hit 65% of his passes. Jeremy Ebert is the ultimate chain mover, he had a dozen catches against Iowa.
Adonis Smith and Treyvon Green give the running game a boost.
The problem is defense where Northwestern gives up 429 yards and 30 points per game. Teams have rushed for 172 yards per game against Northwestern, and in the air the number is a staggering 257 yards per game.
Venric Mark is an excellent return man for Northwestern ,and the kicking game seemed to get better at Iowa.
The key now is to keep this streak rolling in what will be a very interesting night game in Evanston.
Author: Joe Chuba
Bio: Sports Producer for WPSU-TV
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