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Penn State: Initial thoughts

All right.  So Penn State.  As of today, my knowledge of them consists of:

  • Legendary, but very old coach with thick glasses.

  • Bland unis.

  • Had a bad stint that ended last year with a pretty decent season.

  • Their coach made headlines twice this season for something other than coaching: an in-game stomach virus that required . . . attention, and a sideline broken leg or knee or something.

  • The team went 8-4 this year, only losing to Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Notre Dame.

Normally you wouldn't be too concerned about a four-loss team, but those are all "good" losses, if there is such a thing.  Let's look at the rest of their schedule:

2006 Penn State Schedule
Date Opponent Opp. W/L W/L Score
9/2/06 Akron 5-7 W 34-16
9/9/06 at Notre Dame 10-2 L 17-41
9/16/06 Youngstown State 11-3 W 37-3
9/23/06 at Ohio State 12-0 L 6-28
9/30/06 Northwestern 4-8 W 33-7
10/7/06 at Minnesota 6-6 W (OT) 28-27
1014/06 Michigan 11-1 L 10-17
10/21/06 Illinois 2-10 W 26-12
10/28/06 at Purdue 8-5 W 12-0
11/4/06 at Wisconsin 11-1 L 3-13
11/11/06 Temple 1-11 W 47-0
11/18/06 Michigan State 4-8 W 17-13

Okay, so the Nittany Lions' losses to the Irish, the Buckeyes, the Wolverines, and the Badgers look a lot like our losses to Florida, LSU, and Arkansas. Switch the Cal game to an L, and the losses would look even more similar.  That OT win over the Gophers looks a bit like our escape over Air Force.

Penn State's opponents have a combined win-loss record of 85-62.  The Vols' opponents this year had a combined win-loss record of 80-57, but we didn't play any Division I-AA opponents like Youngstown State.

I also wonder whether any of PSU's losses came while two key players were out with injuries.

What other distinguishing characteristics do y'all see between the teams at this point?