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PSU-OSU pregame stretch...

November 12, 2010 - Ray Eckenrode

What makes a great college quarterback?

A great arm? Sure. Durable legs? Certainly. Terrific vision? Absolutely. A quick mind? Yep. Great instincts? Without doubt.

But there’s something else involved, something intangible and unmeasurable, an “it” factor that separates quarterbacks who have success from those who don’t.

And right now, Matt McGloin is oozing with “it” and Penn State is obviously a more confident team all around, including somehow on defense and special teams, with McGloin on the field.

While we think it’s absolutely correct that McGloin is the team’s starter now, we don’t think Penn State’s coaches were wrong for not starting him to start with.

Based on what we saw from McGloin in the Blue-White game and what we saw from Rob Bolden early, we think Bolden was clearly the smart choice to start the season. When reassessing the decision, think back to the promise that Bolden showed in Penn State’s first few games.

So how did it all change so quickly?

We think Bolden’s regression can be traced back to a series of timid short-yardage runs early in the Alabama game. Perhaps there was a physical component involved or perhaps that’s simply when the youngster was overwhelmed by the magnitude of playing big-time D-I quarterback (in front of millions of TV viewers in one of the most hostile venues in the country), but Bolden has never been the same since that time. He’s never looked like a confident player since and PSU has not looked like a confident team with him on the field. Such a regression is the reason why it’s very risky (and almost unheard of) to start a true freshman quarterback in his first game.

Does this mean Bolden is done? Unlikely. Many average quarterbacks have suddenly found their mojo (think Kurt Warner). Does it mean McGloin will be the man for PSU this year and moving forward? Who knows? A lot of hot quarterbacks have cooled off very, very quickly (think Derek Anderson).

Penn State week in Twitter:

We cyberstalk the Lions so you don’t have to:

+ Like many young men, Evan Royster spent a good portion of the past week playing “Call of Duty: Black Ops,” the blockbuster video game that went on sale at midnight last Tuesday.

+ Rob Bolden missed the bus and missed his walking class on Thursday. (Yes, walking class…Kinesiology 072, Fitness walking)

+ Matt McGloin is a friend of Tino Sunseri and was rooting for the Panthers Thursday night against UConn.

Here and there…

+ college football guru Stewart Mandel has begun his weekly projections of all 35 bowl games and surprisingly and amazingly (to us, at least) his first projections include Penn State playing on Jan. 1 in the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville against Mississippi State.

+ After his dismal and irritating performance in the three-man NFL Network booth Thursday night with Bob Papa and Joe Theismann, it’s clear Matt Millen is better suited to both a two-man booth and the college game.

The pick

Talk about no respect! After several Penn State players went on the record saying they were insulted by being a 17-point underdog to Ohio State, the line in the game … went up … and is now Buckeyes (-18). We think that puts the Nits in an even better position to pull a major surprise in this game. Penn State’s offense was beginning to show signs of life before Matt McGloin’s emergence. Evan Royster has found his stride, Silas Redd looks more like Curt Warner every week and now McGloin is taking advantage of a wide variety of targets in the passing game. Obviously, Ohio State brings one of the best defenses in the Big Ten into the game, but we think the Nits offense has 17-21 points in it. Which brings us to the Penn State defense, whose play has fluctuated between stout and sieve-like in the Lions’ last three games. Yes, we said at one point during the Minnesota game that OSU would hang 70 on the Lions, but we’ve seen flashes of elevated play the past two weeks that make us think Penn State can hang here. It would probably take both a defensive touchdown and big special teams play for the Nits to win here, but we really think they’re going to cover … Ohio State (-18) 28, Penn State 21.

Prediction record

Last week: Northwestern (+6) INCORRECT – AGAIN

Season straight up: 5-4, .556

Season vs. spread: 3-5, .375

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