Game Day Skull Session: Get Dumped Then, Penn State

By Kevin Harrish on October 31, 2020 at 5:35 am
James Franklin looks like an animorph in today's skull session.

I'm not doing this again.

We hit this game with the same talking points every damn year. "Penn State always gives the Buckeyes trouble!" or "the last few games have gone down to the wire!" or even James Franklin's "we're one of the few teams to beat them."

The way we talk about this game, you'd think this the damn 10 Year War.

The inconvenient reality is, no matter how close these games have been, the Buckeyes have still won eight of the last nine, losing one game four years ago on a fluke blocked field goal in an outcome that ultimately didn't even matter because the committee saw Ohio State as "unequivocally better" than Penn State regardless.

Let that sink in – the only time Penn State's beaten Ohio State in nearly a decade, pretty much the entire college football world took one look at the win and immediately dismissed it as a fluke, deciding that Ohio State was still the better team, anyway.

We give Penn State way, way too much respect for absolutely no reason. So until they shut my cocky ass up and finally turn one of these "great battles" into a win, I'm going to treat them as exactly what they are to me – an overhyped resume-booster to help my actually-good team chase a natty.

I appreciate today's style points in advance, James Franklin. If you could be as kind as to give Justin Fields a Heisman moment while we're here, I wouldn't be pissed. Then you can go back to making your weird-ass Animorph recruiting graphics in peace.

Word of the Day: Mountebank.

 SATURDAY SLATE. I regret to inform you that outside of tonight's game, today's college football slate looks remarkably subpar. But hey, at least it exists!

Matchup Time (ET) TV/Mobile
#16 Kansas State at West Virginia 12:00pm ESPN2
#5 Georgia at Kentucky 12:00pm SECN
Purdue at Illinois 12:00pm BTN
Michigan State at #13 Michigan 12:00pm FOX
#20 Coastal Carolina at Georgia State 12:00pm ESPNU
#23 Iowa State at Kansas 12:00pm FS1
Wake Forest at Syracuse 12:00pm ACCN
Boston College at #1 Clemson 12:00pm ABC
UTSA at Florida Atlantic 12:00pm Stadium
Temple at Tulane 12:00pm ESPN+
Memphis at #7 Cincinnati 12:00pm ESPN
UCF at Houston 2:00pm ESPN+
Rice at Southern Miss 3:00pm ESPN3
Troy at Arkansas State 3:00pm ESPN3
LSU at Auburn 3:30pm CBS
Northwestern at Iowa 3:30pm ESPN
#17 Indiana at Rutgers 3:30pm FS1
TCU at Baylor 3:30pm ESPN2
UAB at Louisiana Tech 3:30pm Stadium
#4 Notre Dame at Georgia Tech 3:30pm ABC
Appalachian State at ULM 4:00pm ESPNU
Virginia Tech at Louisville 4:00pm ACCN
Texas at #6 Oklahoma State 4:00pm FOX
Ole Miss at Vanderbilt 4:00pm SECN
#25 Boise State at Air Force 6:00pm CBSSN
New Mexico at San Jose State 7:00pm FS1
Charlotte at Duke 7:00pm RSN/ESPN3
Mississippi State at #2 Alabama 7:00pm ESPN
Navy at #22 SMU 7:30pm ESPN2
Arkansas at #8 Texas A&M 7:30pm SECN
#3 Ohio State at #18 Penn State 7:30pm ABC
Missouri at #10 Florida 7:30pm SECN Alt.
Louisiana at Texas State 8:00pm ESPNU
#15 North Carolina at Virginia 8:00pm ACCN
#24 Oklahoma at Texas Tech 8:00pm FOX
San Diego State at Utah State 9:30pm CBSSN
WKU at #11 BYU 10:15pm ESPN
Nevada at UNLV 10:30pm FS1

 THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY. For as much well-deserved flack Georgia takes for sending Justin Fields packing to Ohio State, people forget that Penn State was a Lose A Generational Quarterback hipster.

See, James Franklin lost Justin Fields long before Georgia even thought about mishandling the best football player to ever grace their program.

When Penn State’s coaching staff sought its quarterback of the future in the 2018 recruiting class, it found its man on the high school gridirons of Georgia. They got in on the ground floor of the skyscraper that became Justin Fields, a 6-foot-3 dynamo whose rocket throwing arm and poise in the pocket even then dwarfed his ability to win games on his own with his legs.

Fields committed to the Nittany Lions in December 2016 and spent more than six months as part of that class before decommitting in June 2017. He ultimately went to his home-state school, Georgia, before transferring to Ohio State last season to become a thorn in the entire Big Ten’s side and remind Penn State of what might have been.

After a nearly perfect effort against Nebraska in the Buckeyes’ season opener last week, Fields will march into what once might have been his home stadium tonight, when No. 3 Ohio State tries to ruin No. 18 Penn State’s conference title hopes at 7:30 in Beaver Stadium.


“He,” Penn State coach James Franklin said, “is one of the best players in college football.”

We're probably not going to get to see Justin Fields shred Georgia's secondary like a little kid with safety scissors (turns out, losing Fields and starting a former walk-on quarterback instead did not do great things for their playoff chances), but this is the next best thing.

 FIVE QUICK PICKS. I went 4-1 yesterday, which means I have a positive record for what I believe is the first time ever since I've started posting picks.

I should quit while I'm ahead, but y'all know I'm not going to do that, so let's get to it.

  • Boston College +25 against No. 1 Clemson – I'm going to be honest, I liked this better before it turned into an extremely square pick with Trevor Lawrence sidelined with The Very Bad Virus. Now, it feels like a trap. But still, I'm keen to roll with Jeff Hafley and four scores in his team's Super Bowl against a true freshman quarterback.
  • Texas +3.5 against No. 6 Oklahoma State – Remember when North Carolina had no business being ranked No. 5 in the country and then lost to Florida State? Well, a new team can now claim the title as the most fraudulent team in college football – Oklahoma State. I think Texas is better than its record, and I think the Cowboys are far, far worse. Give me the battle-tested Longhorns and the points.
  • Purdue -7 against Illinois – There's a chance Graham Mertz is a future first-round pick, but there's also a chance Illinois is just a dumpster fire (again). Personally, I think it's somewhere in between with the latter seeming a bit more realistic. Either way, I think that favors a Purdue team with plenty of weapons and firepower, even without Rondale Moore.
  • Rutgers +13 against Indiana – I know, I know. This is stupid. But Rutgers looked legit good and dominant in its season-opening win last week and if you actually look at the numbers, Indiana did not play all that well at all against Penn State and it was an absolute miracle that the Hoosiers won that game. I'm not saying Rutgers is going to start the season 2-0 (but I'm also not not saying it?), but I think they'll at least stay within two touchdowns.
  • Ohio State -10.5 against Penn State – Even if this game ends up as another closer-than-it-should-be win for the Buckeyes, but I think even if Penn State keeps this close most of the game this is a line Ohio State can very easily cover with a few fourth-quarter fireworks. More than that, though, I think Ohio State just rolls. Even in a worst-case scenario, I think the Buckeyes just put up more points than Penn State can match.

 SONG OF THE DAY. "This is Halloween" from The Nightmare Before Christmas.

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