Penn State Nittany Lions: Colleges

Lunchtime links

February, 4, 2014
T-19 hours until fax machines have a purpose again.

Lunchtime links

January, 21, 2014
Feel the rhythm! Feel the rhyme! Get on up, it's bobsled time.

Big Ten lunchtime links

January, 7, 2014
Seriously though, give the guy back his cat.

Lunchtime links

December, 24, 2013
You don't know tough until your grandma makes you carry groceries up the driveway in minus-17 degree weather. Without gloves.

Lunchtime links

December, 17, 2013
If you're not rapping while wearing striped pajamas in your holiday card/video, you need to get on this family's level.

Big Ten lunchtime links

December, 10, 2013
Paper. Snow. A GHOST!

Big Ten lunchtime links

December, 5, 2013
Perhaps we could have a Big Ten-ACC Challenge in the title game? At least that one couldn't end in a tie.

Big Ten lunch links

November, 19, 2013
How quickly it changed from cider to cocoa season.

Big Ten lunchtime links

November, 15, 2013
TGIF. I just wish the TV version still existed.

What to watch in the Big Ten: Week 12

November, 14, 2013
Storylines to watch in the Big Ten this weekend:

[+] EnlargePelini
Bruce Thorson/USA TODAY SportsNebraska is 7-0 against Michigan State, and Bo Pelini hopes to make that 8-0 and take a big step towards winning the Legends Division on Saturday.
1. The challenge at the top of the Legends Division: It’s going down in Lincoln, Neb. Michigan State travels south to try to close out the Legends race, while the Cornhuskers hope to crash that party. The Spartans are coming off a bye with an extra week to prep, but Nebraska has been the thorn in their side that they’ve just never been able to get out (Nebraska holds a 7-0 advantage over MSU). And expect the Huskers faithful to come out for this one, as a win could prove to be huge. If both teams win out, and it comes down to the head-to-head winner, the nod to face Ohio State would be given to Nebraska.

2. The challenge at the bottom of the Legends Division: And on the opposite end of that spectrum there’s the Northwestern-Michigan game. Two teams that were once thought of as top-25 teams are now fighting to find any kind of an identity while dwelling near the bottom/lower half of the Big Ten. The Wolverines have dropped three of their past four and the Wildcats have yet to win a conference game. This is a game for pride. This is a game featuring two teams desperate for a win. And the good news is -- one of these teams has to win. Northwestern had a week to heal its bodies (which it needed badly) and the Wolverines haven’t traveled well under Brady Hoke, which creates an interesting matchup.

3. Northwestern making a final push: Even with their Big Ten breakdown, the Wildcats are still just two wins away from being bowl eligible. They face Michigan and Michigan State at home and Illinois on the road. If there’s a time for Northwestern, it is now. Pulling wins out over Michigan and Illinois wouldn’t be too far-fetched in the Big Ten reality, and if Pat Fitzgerald can rally his troops, it could happen. Look for the possibility of a rejuvenated Wildcats team fighting for their postseason life -- that’s dangerous.

4. Teams running wild: Several games this weekend feature intriguing matchups in the run game. There are two games that have lopsided advantages for the run game. Penn State’s Bill Belton will have the chance to find holes in Purdue’s (very holey) defense. The Boilermakers have the second-worst rushing defense in the Big Ten, allowing 224 yards per game. Their rushing defense is only better than Illinois’. Which, speaking of that, the Illini’s conference-worst run defense will face the conference-best rushing attack in Ohio State, which averages 301 yards per game.

Also keep an eye on the running backs in Nebraska-Michigan State. The Spartans will attempt to keep Ameer Abdullah quiet, but the Big Ten’s leading rusher -- 135 yards per game -- will do his best to make sure that doesn’t happen. And on the opposite side, MSU running back Jeremy Langford will try to keep his breakout season on the upswing against a Cornhuskers defense that allowed minus-21 rushing yards to Michigan last weekend. And finally, Wisconsin and its exciting run game will face Indiana -- the No. 10 rushing defense in the conference.

5. Ohio State looks to make statements: The Buckeyes don’t have the best strength of schedule from here on out, so if they want to find themselves in the national title game, they need to make big statements in their remaining games. And the players have finally begun acknowledging that publicly. Ohio State has won its past three games by a combined score of 153-38. And with Illinois, Indiana and Michigan as its last three opponents, they could look to repeat those kind of performances.

6. Defenses maintaining momentum: Obviously, the Michigan State-Nebraska game will be one to watch (notice a trend here?). The Spartans’ top-ranked defense will look to contain the Cornhuskers, while Nebraska -- fresh off an impressive showing in which they delivered Hoke his first loss as head coach in Michigan Stadium -- will look to do the same. Ohio State will continue its rally cry that it’s not just an offensive team and the Badgers, the Big Ten’s No. 2 defense, will have the chance to face Indiana, which features an impressive offense of its own (at times).

7. Teams looking for crucial wins heading into dangerous territory: Road wins are key for every team. However, there are a few Big Ten teams hitting the road this weekend that need to find those road wins in volatile opposing stadiums. Indiana, which is two wins away from bowl eligibility with three games remaining, travels to Madison to play Wisconsin, which is never a friendly atmosphere. The Wolverines, who’ve struggled mightily on the road and haven’t looked like a complete team for more than a month, travel to Northwestern. Generally, NU features a heavy Michigan feel during that game but with the Wildcats’ recent push to be Chicago’s Big Ten team, this year could feature a different atmosphere. And the Spartans will attempt to seal up the Legends race in front of the “Sea of Red” in Memorial Stadium.

Big Ten lunchtime links

November, 5, 2013
There is a colonial woman on the wing. There is something they're not telling us.

Happy Halloween in the Big Ten

October, 31, 2013
McKayla Maroney, Brady HokeAP PhotoBrady Hoke, like McKayla Maroney, is not impressed.
The Big Ten doesn't have as many teams in the top 10 as the SEC. Or the Pac-12. Or the ACC. But shoot, the Big Ten can have just as much fun when it comes to Halloween.

Freddy Krueger (team not to sleep on): Minnesota. After the Gophers' unimpressive 0-2 start to the Big Ten season, it seemed Minnesota was frozen at the bottom of the conference (or maybe, just frozen in Minneapolis). But after solid wins over Northwestern and Nebraska, it now seems the Gophers have found their way back from the dead and could somehow manage to put together a pretty decent record by season's end. Goldy Gopher might look nice, but don't turn your back...

Boo (boo): Taylor Martinez’s toe injury. Whether it's turf toe or not, it's been serious and painful for Nebraska. The Cornhuskers were definitely a different team with Martinez, but even when he returned last week in a loss to Minnesota, it still seemed like a pretty terrifying ordeal.

Graveyard: Purdue. At least they have the Big Bass Drum. And Drew Brees. Because outside of that, there really doesn't seem to be a lot of noise or life coming out of West Lafayette, Ind. The Boilermakers have one victory this season (over Indiana State). That doesn't make them dead, but it does make them dead last.

[+] EnlargeKain Colter
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesKain Colter and Northwestern showed such promise early in the season.
The Halloween-themed Oreo: How many times have you bought the Oreo with the orange stuffing simply because you think to yourself that it will be different, new and exciting? Instead, it tastes the same. Well, hello Indiana. You’ve looked different, new and exciting this season. But still, the Hoosiers have only three wins, and looking at the rest of their season (and how they play defense), there’s a decent chance they end up only matching last year’s victory total of four. Different look, same result.

Trick: Northwestern. Remember when the Wildcats were a team that __________? A: Could contend for the Big Ten title? B: Was exciting to watch? C: Was changing the identity of the program and gaining national respect? Yeah. Not anymore. Trick's on us.

Treat: Wisconsin. With all that happened in the offseason and a brand new coach and system coming to the program, there would've been plenty of excuses if this team hadn't done well this year. But surprise: The Badgers have been one of the most consistent teams in the Big Ten, and that's a huge treat. Go ahead, be excited, jump around. Even Bo Ryan did it.

Big Ten Halloween costume ideas

One of the most popular costumes this year (and forever) will likely be McKayla Maroney and her “Not Impressed” meme.

And while there’s plenty to not be impressed about in Big Ten football this season, there are also some Big Ten coaches, and coaches who've faced Big Ten teams, who could seriously consider going as McKayla, such as: Michigan coach Brady Hoke, Penn State coach Bill O’Brien, Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald, Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio, Urban Meyer (circa 2010) and Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly.

But there are also plenty of costumes outside of McKayla. Because in a league full of wild animal mascots (literally) and nuts (literally and figuratively), there should be plenty of creativity for costumes.
However, Ryan isn't the only Big Ten selection fighting for the role of Sunshine. Ryan has the added benefit of having Jackson to make it a group outfit, which is always worth bonus points. But Ryan cut his hair this summer, which is a detriment to the costume as a whole.

Big Ten lunchtime links

October, 22, 2013
The white zone is for immediate loading and unloading of passengers only. There is no stopping in the red zone.

Big Ten lunchtime links

October, 15, 2013
Four for you, Glen Coco. You go, Glen Coco.

Big Ten weekend rewind: Week 7

October, 14, 2013
There’s nothing quite like the road to really show the identity of a team. The best teams know how to turn it all internal, block out the distractions and silence the crowd with a win.

Unfortunately for the Big Ten, that’s not really happening.

Of the four conference games this weekend, the only team to pick up a road win was Nebraska, over Purdue. Michigan State and Wisconsin manhandled Indiana and Northwestern, respectively. And Penn State took Michigan into four overtimes before sending the Wolverines out of Beaver Stadium with their tail between their legs.

[+] EnlargeDevin Gardner
AP Photo/Gene J. PuskarMichigan hit a bump in the road at Penn State.
Michigan coach Brady Hoke said he was disappointed with the loss but happy with how his guys responded on the road. He said his team needed to “make the punches count a little more."

The Wolverines -- like every other team in the Big Ten -- are going to need to figure out how to make those punches count more on the road. In their only other road trip this season, Michigan snuck by UConn, and it still has upcoming trips to Michigan State, Northwestern and Iowa.

Indiana gets no break as it goes to Michigan Stadium, where Hoke is undefeated. And after its trip to Ann Arbor, the Hoosiers hit the road for Wisconsin and Ohio State.

The Wildcats will still travel to Iowa, Nebraska and Illinois, which at one point seemed like a favorable road to the Big Ten title game, but currently Northwestern is sharing last place with Minnesota in the Legends Division.

Take that and rewind.

Team of the week: Northwestern entered Saturday’s game against Wisconsin having scored at least 30 points in the previous seven games. Enter the Badger defense, highly motivated and ready to play. Not only did the Badgers hold the Wildcats to zero touchdowns, they also held Northwestern scoreless in the second half, en route to a 35-6 win. Melvin Gordon carried the ball 22 times for 172 yards, including one huge 71-yard TD run, continuing his argument for best RB in the Big Ten. And Jared Abbrederis picked up another big play for the Badgers, a 63-yard touchdown pass.

Worst hangover: Northwestern seems to be on the opposite trend of the Spartans. A week after Northwestern put up a great showing against Ohio State, the Wildcats managed to look like the Northwestern of the past against Wisconsin. The Wildcats' offense couldn’t get its run game going and accounted for its fewest rushing yards since 2007 when NU rushed for 0 yards against Ohio State. Defensively, a week after making Braxton Miller look very human, the Northwestern defense gave up three passing touchdowns and 241 passing yards to Joel Stave.

Big man on campus (offense): Langford accounted for four touchdowns (three rushing, one receiving) in the Spartans’ win over Indiana on Saturday. It was the first 100-yard rushing game of his career and the first time since 2010 that a Spartan has accounted for four touchdowns in one game. His performance spurred the offensive attack as his rushing threat opened up passing lanes for Cook.

[+] EnlargeStephen Buckley
Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY SportsWisconsin held Northwestern to just 44 rushing yards in a rout of the Wildcats.
Big man on campus (defense): In a 35-6 dismantling of Northwestern, Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland set the tone for the Badgers during a pregame speech. He had 10 tackles and one sack and proved himself as the crucial emotional leader for a Wisconsin defense that held Northwestern to just 44 rushing yards and 10 first downs.

Big man on campus (special teams): Michigan State punter Mike Sadler averaged 59.3 yards with his four punts against Indiana. His longest of the day (which also is his longest this season) came on a second chance after IU chose to accept an illegal formation penalty. Sadler responded with a 69-yarder.

Best play: With just under a minute remaining in the fourth quarter, Penn State’s defense came up with a huge stop, forcing the Wolverines to punt. And when Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg walked on to the field with 50 seconds remaining, chances looked bleak as the Nittany Lions trailed 34-27. But in just four plays the freshman signal-caller had marched Penn State 80 yards into the end zone. There are two plays in this drive that will be co-winners of this week’s best play and both were completions from Hackenberg to Michigan native and PSU wide receiver Allen Robinson. The first was a 14-yard pass that Robinson caught while flying out of bounds, but somehow he managed to get a foot in to give the Nittany Lions some momentum. And the second came just two plays later, when Hackenberg hoisted a 36-yard prayer to the corner and found Robinson, who elevated over Michigan defensive back Channing Stribling and came down just 1 yard from the end zone.

A spot of bother: The lows of the lows were quite apparent for Michigan and Northwestern this weekend, two teams that -- at their bests -- could/could've contended for the Big Ten title. But this weekend the Wolverines showed relapses to their Akron/UConn former selves and the Wildcats, who are now 0-2 in conference play, couldn’t seem to get anything going in a huge loss to Wisconsin on the road. For teams like Michigan State, this is good news, as it means the hunt for the Big Ten title is wide open. But as far as conference perceptions go, it does nothing to have two teams that have recently been ranked in the top 25 look as disjointed as Michigan and Northwestern did at times.