There’s an old saying in football attributed to Joe Paterno, Earl Weaver, and others: “You’re never as good as you look when you win, nor as bad as you look when you lose.” As Penn State fans, we’ve certainly experienced both sides of that quote this month.
We had three solid wins, but the lopsided scores didn’t tell us how good our team was. We had one miserable loss last weekend. Had there been a few less Penn State turnovers in the game, one or two more completed passes, or more friendly officiating, perhaps the result would have different. But it wasn’t. We were clearly not the better team last weekend, Iowa was. But that doesn’t mean that we’re bad!
Here in Champaign, the impression we have from a few Illini fans, as well as from reading the paper, is that people are a bit down on the Illini this year. Understandably. With a 1-2 record, including a 30-0 loss to Ohio State last week, Illini fans have grave reason to be concerned about this year’s team.
Loren Tate, of the News-Gazette in Champaign, wrote a column yesterday where he stated, “Here is a fair analysis. Illini talent is midrange to good, comparable to our slightly better than most midrange teams but shy of conference leaders. If they avoid turnovers and penalties, if they take advantage of scoring opportunities and play with inspiration, they should reach the fourth quarter of most games with a chance to win. But the Illini do not now nor have they ever possessed some overwhelming physical advantage within the conference.”
This week, Terry watched a fair amount of Big Ten Network coverage on last weekend’s game, including the game between Illinois and Ohio State. Terry’s reaction? Illinois is not as bad a team as their record would indicate. They’ve got some good talent and can make some solid plays. Illinois could have a "break-out" game against Penn State, or they could continue to under-perform in the Big Ten.
Personally I’m hoping that Juice Williams and Arrelious Benn continue to struggle, that they don’t have a “break-out” game against Penn State. I’m hoping that Penn State’s defense steps up even more than they already have. They’ve allowed only 3 touchdowns all season. Wouldn’t it be nice if they allowed none in this game?
And finally I’m hoping that the offensive line gives Darryl Clark a chance, that the special teams do what they need to do to prevent things like blocked punts and breakaway returns.
I'm hoping for a solid win, but my guess is that it will be a close game, even a nail-biter.
So here we are…in Champaign finally! The weather will be a high of 52, cloudy, perhaps a few sprinkles, and 10-20 mph winds. There will be an “Orange Out” at the sold out stadium.
We’ll do our best to bring home a win!