In the words of Pat McCurdy...
Here are the things that make me nervous
Here are the things that stick in my craw
Here are the things that make me nervous...
1. Daryll Clark. Remember back when we used to talk about the top QB's in the Big Ten and we always mentioned Adam Weber's name? And remember how that list used to include Weber as well as guy's like Terrelle Pryor and Daryll Clark too? If you put those three names on a list today you'd be able to play a pretty good game of "One of these things is not like the other, one of these things does not belong" because Daryll Clark does not belong on the same list as Weber and Pryor anymore.
Clark is the best QB in the Big Ten. He leads his team, he passes well, he's efficient and he knows how to win. Daryll Clark is worth being nervous about.
2. Penn State Rush Defense. Linbackah Yew is giving up just 173 passing yards/game, and under 82 rushing yards/game. Now we've all heard about how Penn State's stats are bloated because of who they play, but let's be honest here, the Gopher run game is, at best, inconsistent, and, at worst, bad. And we know how things go when we can't run the ball.
3. Gopher Offense. Our offense has struggled all year, no surprises there. But we are about to face one of the best defenses in the conference, and it could get ugly. The Gophers rank last in the Big Ten in yards/game,8th in points/game, 8th in 3rd down efficiency, and are tied for 7th in TD's scored. Not exactly setting the world on fire.
4. Penn State Rush Offense. Evan Royster leads a Nittany Lion rushing attack that is averaging 188.7 (3rd in the Big Ten) yards/game, and 5.4 yards/rush (1st in the Big Ten). Couple those numbers with the fact that we are giving up 162.7 yards/game (9th in the Big Ten), and you've got the makings of what could be a long day for the Gopher defense.
5. Something to prove. A lot of people think that Penn State is a bit overrated... the writers of this blog included. I've said it on the podcast and I will say it here, if the rankings didn't come out before the season, and they weren't released until after week 3 or 4 of the college football season, Penn State wouldn't even get a SNIFF of the Top 25. As it stands they started the year around #5 and based on the fact that their only loss is to a very good Iowa team, they haven't fallen that far.
But this squad has something to prove. While everyone else says they have played a cupcake schedule (because they have), the Nittany Lions believe that they are relevant on a conference and national level, and this week against the Gophers is when they set out to prove it. Their 6 final games are all against conference opponents and nothing is a given in this conference, so a win at home vs. Minnesota is a must for the Lions.
Penn State is favored by 17.5 points, but despite all of these things that make me nervous, I expect the Gophers to keep it close for at least 3 quarters. If Penn State wins by more than 2 touchdowns it will be because they have flat out worn us down by the end of the game.