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How many times will JoePa yell at McQueary this season? Some predictions and over/unders
August 20, 2011 - Cory Giger
Look for Joe Paterno to be coaching from the press box and for Rob Bolden to be calling the plays when Penn State kicks off the season in two weeks against Indiana State.
Here's a closer look at those items and some other predictions for the Nittany Lions' season, including some fun over/unders:
* Will JoePa be on the sideline for the opener? He said he will and surely will do everything he can to make it happen. But come on, the opponent is Indiana State, and there's no need to rush the recovery from his hip and arm injury so he can put himself in harm's way for a 40-point blowout. Paterno can hang out with the other coaches in the press box and take an extra week to get himself ready for the only game that matters during the first month of the season -- a visit by Alabama on Sept. 10.
* Who will be the starting quarterback? Just about everyone expects Bolden to beat out Matt McGloin. Both should get playing time against Indiana State, and as long as Bolden doesn't stink it up or get injured, he also likely will start against Alabama.
* Will this year's game against Alabama be closer than last season's 24-3 loss? It should be, but scoring points against the Tide's excellent defense will be tough. I'll go 23-10 'Bama.
* Will Penn State's fans be as hospitable and respectful to Alabama fans as the Tide faithful were last year in Tuscaloosa? Let's hope so. The respect those fans showed was off the charts.
* Will suspended running back Stephfon Green be back? The team reportedly voted in favor of reinstating him, so there's a chance. Paterno will have the final say, and he might have a soft spot in his heart for the senior and let him come back. I think he will.
* When will punter Anthony Fera be back? He'll probably sit out the opener and have a chance to return against Alabama, when field position will be at a premium.
* Who will be the offensive MVP? Running back Silas Redd, who had 413 yards last year as a true freshman and looks like a budding star.
* And the defensive MVP? Linebacker Michael Mauti, if he can stay healthy, which has been a problem for him in his career.
* Will Paterno, who has 401 wins, surpass Eddie Robinson's mark of 408 this season to become second all-time in college football history? Yes. Penn State should win at least eight games, counting the bowl.
* Will this be JoePa's last year? No.
* Will Paterno catch Division III St. John's of Minnesota coach John Gagliardi's all-division college record of 478 wins (and counting)? He would have to coach until he's about 93. So maybe.
* Who will win the Big Ten? Wisconsin, beating Nebraska in the championship game.
* How will Ohio State do after all the controversy? Jim Tressel and Terrelle Pryor are gone, but the Buckeyes still have plenty of talent after strong recruiting in recent years. A 9-3 record seems about right. And as someone told me the other day, the week three matchup against Miami will be quite interesting. Let's call it the Scandal Bowl.
* Wins -- over/under 8.5: I'm going under with an 8-5 record. After Alabama, the key games will be at Northwestern and obviously the three-game stretch at the end against Nebraska, Ohio State and Wisconsin. Win any one of the five and they should be at worst 9-4.
* Rushing yards for Redd -- over/under 1,000: I'll go slightly over. However, it won't matter how special of a back Redd is, he won't go anywhere if the offensive line struggles, which is very much a possibility.
* Passing yards for Bolden -- over/under 2,400: Under. Too many good defenses on the schedule, so the coaching staff will be conservative.
* Touchdowns (running and throwing) for Bolden -- over/under 19.5: That's 1.5 per game. Slightly under.
* Interceptions for McGloin -- over/under 10: He had nine in seven games last year -- including five in the bowl game -- and this question is based on him being the starter. I'll go under, simply because the coaches won't stand for that kind of carelessness with the ball, so he wouldn't be the starter for very long.
* Receptions for Derek Moye -- over/under 60: Under. He had 53 last season and might improve by a couple, but every opposing defense will be keying on him.
* Tackles by Mauti -- over/under 110: Barely under. He'll be playing an outside spot, which will cost him a few, plus there's great depth at linebacker so the coaches might be rotating personnel more.
* Number of times Paterno will yell at Mike McQueary on the sideline -- over/under 50: Easy. That's just one game. Over.
* Number of times Paterno will use the phrase "he's a good, solid football player" -- over/under 26. That's two times per week. Over.
* Highest ranking the Lions will achieve this season -- over/under 15: In this case, under being a better ranking. They'll jump at least that high if they upset Alabama. But even if they lose to the Tide, they could be 8-1 heading into the tough three-game stretch, so that surely would be worthy of the top 15. I'll go over, topping out around 17.
Cory Giger is the host of "Sports Central" from 4 to 6 p.m. daily on ESPN Radio 1430 WVAM. He can be reached at 949-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Big Ten predictions
2. Ohio State
3. Penn State
2. Michigan State