Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Roses are Red, Violets are Blue

Ah, the first of the year is mere hours away, meaning the Rose Bowl is almost upon us. Fifth-ranked USC will take on my eight-ranked Nittany Lions right in their own backyard, with Penn state coming in as 10-point underdogs.

Frankly, I'm OK with that. Really, I am. The Trojans and Nittany Lions had two common opponents this year: Oregon State and Ohio State. USC demolished Ohio State (35-3) in the Coliseum in a game where the Buckeyes were without star running back Chris Wells and the vastly inferior Todd Boeckman starting at quarterback instead of freshman phenom Terrelle Pryor.

Then USC lost at Oregon State 27-21, giving up 201 yards rushing (186 to Jacquizz Rodgers).

Penn State, on the other hand, completely embarrassed the Beavers at Beaver Stadium (45-14), surrendering just 92 yards rushing (99 to Rodgers), while racking up 239 yards of their own on the ground (compared to just 86 for USC against OSU).

Then against Ohio State, with a healthy Chris Wells and a more seasoned and talented Terrelle Pryor behind center, Penn State defeated the Buckeyes in the Horseshoe 13-6.

Of course Penn State should be underdogs and have a worse ranking. Clearly, if common opponent is any indication, USC is superior, right? What a crock of shit. Honestly, I have a feeling USC is a little better than Penn State right now … maybe. But 10 points better? Fuck no.

Has anyone actually seen these guys play? All I hear about is how slow the Big 10 is compared to the Pac-10. Really? Penn State is slow? I think Derrick Williams, Jordan Norwood, Deon Butler, Stephfon Green, Aaron Maybin, Navorro Bowman, Maurice Evans, Lydell Sargeant and A.J. Wallace might have something to say about that. Sure, players like Josh Hull, Mark Rubin and Tyrell Sales aren't the fleetest of foot, but most of the players on this Nittany Lion team have speed. Yet no one seems too interested in recognizing that.

In recent days, some writers have come around to give Penn State some credit, but it seems the majority of the nation is underestimating the Lions.

USC is a tough team. They have a ton of talent on both sides of the ball. Defensively, they are just scary, and offensively, they have some major weapons. But let's not forget that really, Penn State matches up not so bad. Daryll Clark has become a very good quarterback. Penn State has four big play receivers when you factor in Graham Zug with the three seniors. Evan Royster has been under the radar all year long, and all he does is average 6.5 yards a carry. Green comes in as a home run hitter, and the Penn State offensive line is as good as it gets.

Defensively, no team in the country boasts three more talented linemen than Aaron Maybin, Maurice Evans and Jared Odrick. Maybin has been phenomenal, shooting up the draft boards to a potential top-10 pick thanks to a breakout season. Evans was an All-American last year who has regained form after an early-season suspension. And Odrick has been the team's best player on defense all year. The guy is an absolute beast.

Add in the emergence of Navorro Bowman as a big-play linebacker and a disciplined secondary, the Nittany Lions aren't a bunch of slouches.

Granted, USC has the advantage of playing very close to home, and Pete Carroll is a great coach. But would you bet against a Joe Paterno team with over a month to prepare? I know I wouldn't. Especially one with this much talent.

California, here we come … and hopefully Penn State will be coming up roses.

BallHype: hype it up!

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