Who is Penn State? Well, if you have been spending any time following sports media you would know they are the hottest team in CFB. If you read through any PSU message board, they are the New England Patriots with a better defense, and of course better uniforms. Bill O'Brien does it the right way Bellicheck! But where is this hype coming from? Certainly not the first two games of the season where the Nittany Lions lost first to a decent Bobcat team, and next to an awful Virginia team. Of course, the Nitts say they should have won that game. They blame it on the kicker. Considering that Virginia has lost six straight since their win over PSU --including a blow out loss to Duke-- I agree, they should have won that game. But they didn't. However, we've been asked to look past these early season losses. The team was getting used to the new staff. They were overly emotional in the home opener (I think I read that one on ESPN).
Okay, let's accept the excuses for the two losses. The team is better now and should not be judged by things that happened nearly two months ago. Let's buy-in to the idea that they are a good team because they've won five whole games in a row (winning eight in a row apparently does not make a team hot). Who are these five teams that fell victim to the now fierce Nittany Lion? Well, they are not offensive juggernauts. The best offense PSU has faced in the 53rd ranked (ppg) NW Wildcats, a team that managed to put up 28 against PSU before an epic 4th quarter collapse. Of the other teams that the staunch PSU defense has stopped Temple is the highest ranked at 88 followed by Navy (99), Iowa (103), and Illinois (114). In fairness to the Nitts, the defenses of those same teams seem to rank a little higher, Iowa being the highest ranked in ppg at 28. In fact all of them with the exception of Temple rank above the Buckeyes. Still, I don't think I'd swap our defense for the Illini defense even this season.
The point is PSU has gotten fat off of a party pack of college football's sweetest cupcakes. Tomorrow in Happy Valley, PSU will not be lining up against Navy or Temple. In fact, the team across the field from them might even be regarded as stronger than the mighty Wildcats of Northwestern. PSU will be playing against the best team they have faced all season, and by the end of Saturday's game --but not before-- we might be able to answer the question of who is Penn State.