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PSU-Minny pregame stretch...

October 22, 2010 - Ray Eckenrode

Another perplexing comment

There’s a fine line as to whether the media should call out college athletes. Pro athletes? Absolutely. High school athletes? No way. College athletes? Gray area.

Our rule of thumb in this blog (which is written from a fan’s perspective and not a media perspective) is that anything that happens on the field is fair game for criticism, but to stay away from off-the-field stuff because, after all, these are still young men with a lot to learn. But we’ve really been tested on that by this year’s Penn State football team.

First, there was the Evan Royster saga and his puzzling tweets about video games, golf, hockey, his dislike for college classes, anything but football. Now, we’re biting our tongue in regard to Stefan Wisniewski’s interview this week where he said that while Penn State as a team has fallen short of expectations, personally, he’s “playing well.” We haven’t isolated on Wisniewski’s play enough to say whether he’s right or not (although we will this weekend!), but it doesn’t take much to fill in the blanks as to why he wasn’t voted a team captain.

Plenty of good seats available?

This will be Penn State’s first trip to the gorgeous new TCF Bank Stadium and it will be interesting to see how many of the 50,000 seats there are empty with two mediocre teams playing and rain in the forecast. By the way, the fact sheet for the new facility optimistically proclaims the stadium was constructed so that an expansion to 80,000 seats is possible.

The pick

Admittedly, we haven’t watched much Minnesota football – but how is Penn State a 9.5-point favorite over anyone? And the line started at -8.5 which means people are betting actual money on Penn State! Unbelievable. If there is a formula for the Nittany Lions to cover that spread, it would involve a dominant rushing performance against the Gophers’ soft defense. But certainly Minny realizes that and is going to stack nine in the box and make Rob Bolden beat them, right? But certainly PSU is prepared for that (right?) and plans to throw the ball on first down (right?), the surest way to get those extra guys out of the box, right? On the other side of the ball, veteran Gopher QB Adam Weber might be the most accomplished offensive player on the field for either team (considering Evan Royster’s funk) and he’s likely to take advantage of Penn State’s slow, injury-riddled defense. If Weber and company don’t turn the ball over they might win outright, but we expect them to cover … Penn State 21, Minnesota 20.

Prediction record

Last game: Penn State -7 INCORRECT

Season straight up: 4-2, .667

Against the spread: 3-2, .600

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