Penn St and Wisconsin clash in a true battle of college football Legends and Leaders. Winner goes to the Rose Bowl. Loser might fall from the Big 6. Washington’s big win last night over Colorado in the Pac-12 Championship game all but eliminates 2-loss UW and 2-loss PSU from the Playoff. Over course, if Clemson fully Clemsons vs VaTech in the ACC Championship game maybe there would be hope.
Wisconsin was in dreamland with its start. They force Penn St to go 3 & out and the LB were getting pressure right away on passing downs. UW’s offense responded with a 14-play 8′ scoring drive with 2 big 3rd down by starting QB Bart Houston and some steady positive yardage from Corey Clement. PSU went 3 & out on its second possession and Clement gashed PSU for a 67-yard TD run as UW raced to a 14-0 lead. But PSU responded with a big run and the PSU QB stepped up nicely on a big 3rd & 6 to get them in scoring range. Sojourn Shelton had good coverage but the 6’6″ receiving target was just too much for the Badgers diminutive CB and PSU answered back to halve the deficit. UW facing a 3rd and short 1 as the quarter ends.
Bradrick Shaw (“MG4”) is finding some room early. He is gonna be a good one. PSU forces a 3rd & long5 for UW around its own 45. Ogunbowale beats the LB in the flat and moves the chains. On a 3rd & 8, UW had one of those confusing pass plays with 2 WR on go routes in the same area. Ball falls between Peavy and Rushing as Peavy looks around for either a flag or explanation as to what that play was. PSU picked up a 1st down on the ground before disaster strikes. 3rd & short, snap is too high and the ball bounces favorably for Connelly for UW who spins into the endzone
Wisconsin 21 Penn State 7 (9:42′ 2nd qtr)
The PSU O has a reputation for big plays so the UW CBs are playing soft and that’s giving PSU easy completions to the boundary about 10-yards downfield. UW might have to bet on its LB getting enough pressure that PSU won’t have time for many big shots (*caveat, the PSU TD was a 33-yard pass). On a 3rd & 6, PSU QB gets the ball away despite heavy pressure up the middle for a 4th & 2. And PSU decides to go for it and Vince Beigel doing what he does forces PSU Qb to effectively throw it away.
Badgers will take over in PSU territory with a chance to gain a 3-score advantage. Any points really could put PSU at the tip of the sword. Overdue play action pass is a checkdown for 14. But Clement on the next play nearly gives PSUU a reprieve as he puts it on the ground. PSU had a couple shots at it but UW recovers. 2 fumbles and 2 good bounces for the Badgers. UW ball in the redzone. 2 carries from Ogunbowale has the Badgers smelling roses.
Wisconsin 28 Penn State 7 (5:15′ 2nd qtr)
PSU gets a 19-yard run to get out to midfield. Man did they need that. Connelly and friends knife in the backfield stone PSU on 3rd & 2. No decision, have to go for it here. UW blitzes and force a fumble which is immaterial as it was 4th down. UW takes over at about the PSU 42 again. Kill shot with 3+’ here if Badgers add another TD. But no, PSU D rises up and UW goes 3&out. Too bad. Especially since UW gets the ball to start the 2nd half. PSU gets it back needing a score with 2:25′ left in the half.
PSU again finding space about 10-yards downfield to the outside. PSU gets a big gainer out near midfield, clock running under 1:30 now. Lets now relive the Gopher game with a late 2nd qtr TD allowed like it was GB or something. Costly drop by PSU WR right at the sticks sets up 3rd & 10. Blitz doesn’t get there and PSU gets the 1st down. And game back on. Another 10-yard throw to the boundary. CB tries to undercut for some reason and whiffs. Walk in TD from there. Absolutely no reason to do anything but keep it front of you and make the tackle.
Wisconsin 28 Penn State 14 (:58 left 2nd qtr)
Raise your hand if you think UW will try more than a couple exploratory handoffs here. I would love play action and take a shot but I’m not holding out hope. PSU uses a TO to try and get the ball back but UW converts.
HALFTIME Wisconsin 28 Penn State 14
PSU known as a 2nd half team so 14-points isn’t going to intimidate them. Frankly, UW got the lucky bounce for its defensive score and made the plays on 4th down to get the ball back. UW missed a big opportunity up 28-7 and the ball at the PSU 43. Another score, especially a TD, would probably have put this thing away. PSU has stayed alive thanks to some big plays as its reputation suggested pregame. UW is moving the ball efficiently and the defense aside from those couple plays is suffocating and swarming. I’d like to see some early down play action passes from UW to test the PSU secondary. Have to think PSU is going to stack the box and run blitz. The Badgers piled up 164 yards on the ground averaging 6.3 per attempt. Houston was an efficient 6-10 but there should be opportunities to ask some questions of the PSU CB with some 1-on-1 coverages in the 2nd half. I’m taking out my contacts. That’s my halftime adjustment.
|3rd down efficiency||4-6||3-8|
|4th down efficiency||0-0||0-2|
|Yards per pass||6.6||8.6|
|Yards per rush||6.3||2.6|
They did that weird Dr. Pepper footballs in the giant can thing. Kind of mean of Watt and Biegel to harass one of the contestants into a lot of incompletions but they only got 1 speed.
Wisconsin comes out throwing and Peavy gets 8-yards on 1st down followed by a Clement burst out to the UW 47. Houston hits Fumagali over the middle for 19 and UW is inside the PSU 35. Ref I think said Clement was down but he definitely fumbled. UW OL was there to scoop it as the Badger luck continues. On 2nd down Shaw couldn’t get through the PSU S because if he misses that, Shaw goes the distance. Instead its 3rd&3. Shaw gets stoned and decision time for Chryst. I go for it. Indoors Chryst attempts the FG but its wide right.
PSU answers with 1-play on a TD over the top and somebody messed up in the secondary.
Wisconsin 28 Penn State 21 (10:58′ 3rd qtr)
Pressure now on UW for the first time all night. PSU sacks Houston and for the 4th time tonight, UW is able to recover a fumble. Things could have been tied up in a hurry if Houston isn’t able to hustle back there and recover. PSU another big play on O as UW is on its heels. 2 more big plays and PSU is in the red zone. PSU made that look easy and we’re all square in the B1G Title Game.
Wisconsin 28 Penn State 28 (4:22′ left 3rd qtr)
Clement despite his fumbling is back out there and carries twice for 1st downs. He takes a shovel pass for 26 into PSU territory. Shaw spells Clement and carries down to the PSU 10. Again last man wrestles him down. Pressure got to Houston but he had Fumagali all by himself at the 2. Houston just way too slow with the release. Should have been an easy TD for UW. And a 3rd & 8 completion is short so UW loses 4 points and settles for a FG. Given how PSU offense has looked this half I think PSU is fine with that.
Wisconsin 31 Penn State 28 (:16 left 3rd qtr)
PSU gashes UW defense AGAIN. PSU at the UW 43.
PSU making it look easy again. Another long completion takes PSU into the red zone. Pressure isn’t getting there and a weak UW secondary getting exposed. And PSU another shot into the endzone and PSU leads. UW D seemingly has no answers. Watt is great, but he isn’t covering a RB 1-on-1 successfully.
Penn State 35 Wisconsin 31 (13:41 left 3rd qtr)
After a couple positive runs, a TFL and a sack puts UW In a 3rd & 16. Very obvious screen does almost nothing and UW has to punt it away. Frankly, this isn’t a good offensive team and they scored 24 points which really should be enough the UW defense. For the first time all season really, the D isn’t doing the job.
PSU facing 3rd & 6 after a throw sails out of bounds. Musso on the 6’6″ WR isn’t a matchup I’d like to repeat. QB had all day in the pocket. Blitz does enough to force an incompletion but a RTP call gives PSU new life. Good call. Tackles him and drags him to the ground on the PSU sideline. Not really necessary. If the one in the 1st Qtr was a late hit on a UW RB I think you have to call that one. That does it. I think PSU goes down and scores another TD to finish things off after that penalty. PSU takes a shot for the dagger TD is incomplete but UW is flagged for DPI and PSU is in the redzone. Seahawks get away with that. PSU has 3rd & 4 at the UW 10. Force a FG and the Badgers have a chance. PSU comes up just short. I go for it here and go for the kill. But PSU declines and extends their lead with a FG.
Penn State 38 Wisconsin 31 (5:14 4th Qtr)
I’m thinking 4-downs the entire way here even though UW has all 3 TO. I just don’t think the D is going to get the O another chance. So far, PSU has outscored UW 24-3 in the 2nd half. Ogunbowale sets up 3rd and short just into PSU territory. He falls fwd on the next carry for a fresh set of downs. This replay official is terrible. Dude stopped the play on a clear PSU completion and again here on the spot. He got it, lets go.
More dramatic than it had to be, but Clement picks up 13 to move UW inside the PSU 35 with 2′ left. Same play other side gets a few more inside the 30. UW still running the ball for some reason and getting nowhere while clock ticks under 1:30. UW is going to have to push the ball down the field and seem really hesitant to do so. Fumagali makes the reception setting up 4th & 1 with 1:04 left. Rose Bowl hopes depend on this play.
*ACC UPDATE: Clemson at risk of Clemsoning punting back to VT with 4′ left clinging to a 42-35 lead The Tigers had led 35-14
Have to think Clement gets the ball here. He does and he is short. PSU takes over. UW has only 2 TO, meaning at best they get the ball with :10 left maybe? Predictable conservative call. A play action there would have had a 1-on-1 with your WR.
PSU just doing zone read. 3rd down, :53 left. I keep it in the QB hands here and I bet he could pick it up given UW selling out for the RB to get the ball. Refs huddling up for some reason. As announcer notes, the logical thing here it take a safety or just run around and slide down. Do the Ravens thing from Sunday and hold everyone while clock runs out. Yup, QB just slides down.
UW missed opportunities to put it away in the 1st half and missed easy TD throw to Fumagali and missed FG were expensive mistakes. PSU was as advertised. Big plays on Offense and a strong 2nd half team. UW gave PSU life with late 1st half TD and never adjusted to take down the big plays. UW far too conservative on offense in the 2nd half evidently not trusting Houston to throw the ball against a PSU defense aligned to slow down the Badgers rushing attack.
FINAL Penn State 38 Wisconsin 31
*ACC UPDATE: Clemson hangs on forcing a 4th down incompletion with VT in the redzone
College Football Playoff Prediction
3. THE Ohio State
|3rd down efficiency||5-12||3-10|
|4th down efficiency||0-1||0-3|
|Yards per pass||8.3||12.4|
|Yards per rush||4.9||1.8|