The Happiest of Valleys

This is Christian Hackenberg. He's a NFL-caliber quarterback for the Penn State Nittany Lions. He's been under-utilized and misused since the day James Franklin showed up in State College. His coach doesn't know what he's doing. He should transfer to wherever Bill O'Brien ends up going next year.

I made the long journey to State College, PA two years ago to witness the 4-overtime slugfest between these two schools. After witnessing that game from the swaying pressbox attached to that erector set of a stadium, I was in no rush to go back. That was a rough trip. On one hand, that day in 2013 was a perfect day for a big game between these two storied programs. But on the other hand, one team had to lose, and at the time that one team was Michigan because that's just what they did back then.

The old Michigan lost big road games against good teams.

Not so much with the losing on the road anymore.

It is great

Parking God:


Radio highlights

The return of the defense
There is not a chasm vast enough to separate Indiana and Penn State offensively. Indiana is a pistol offense that loves to run and calls a play about every 20-25 seconds. They will grind you down and wear you out...which they did quite well against Michigan last week. Penn State on the other hand, is a pro-style set that takes all the time in the world in-between plays. One of those is right in Michigan's defensive wheelhouse...the other is not.

Inevitable results were inevitable.

Stickers galore
Via MVictors...

“I like your stickers!”
“I like YOUR stickers!!”
“Did we just become best friends?”

Not a banner game for Big Ten refs
Ok, so yeah, this is my obligatory officiating section.

Michigan couldn't stop jumping offsides early, but did the refs keep Penn State in this game? Well, Penn State had 207 yards of offense in this game and Michigan gave up 117 yards in penalties. I guess one could make the argument?

The QB whisperer
I didn't really know what to expect from Rudock early in the year. We knew what he did in Iowa, and while he was a solid QB there, it was sightly less-encouraging that he was being passed over for CJ Beathard. The Utah game could've gone better, but there were signs late in that game that Jake Rudock wasn't the same kind of QB we'd seen around here for a past few years.

Despite less-than-stellar performances since Utah, Rudock was able to guide Michigan to a 9-1 record by just simply being the kind of quarterback that doesn't make a lot of mistakes and keeps his head screwed on in the face of adversity. And since the Minnesota game where he was knocked out because of a vicious hit to the head, he's come back an even stronger and much more polished passer than he's ever been in his career.

This is why you hire a coach like Jim Harbaugh. He takes average guys like Jake Rudock, brings them in, sprinkles his magic QB pixie dust on him, and turns him lose at just the right time. He took a backup Iowa QB and turned him into a viable NFL draft pick in less than one season.

How's that for player development?

House money
Michigan rounded out their Big Ten road slate on Saturday with a perfect 4-0 record and improved to 9-2 overall. In the preseason, I said 8-4 would be a reasonable expectation for this season And that was with my hopeful optimism and preseason excitement, which I'll admit gets the best of me at times. Michigan had a lot of question marks on offense coming into the season, so to glean any substantive evidence that by just adding Harbaugh, that things would turn around this quickly, was probably foolish.

When you surpass expectations there's this idea that your suddenly playing with "house money". Michigan has met their arbitrarily predetermined number of wins so it's cool if we lose now. I don't believe in that. Plus, my preseason 8-4 record was rooted in the notion that we beat either Michigan State or Ohio State as part of those 8 wins.

With the Big Ten east still in question, and with the "Michigan must win and Michigan State must lose" scenario still intact for another week...there's too much to play for, thus those preseason expectations are sort of moot at this point...but in a good way :)

"He did drill it"
Hat's off to Blaha for the dynamite drop in.

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