Monthly Archives: December 2013

Penn State 2014 Football Preview

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Penn State 2014 Football Preview  

Let’s go ahead and get the negatives out of the way up front. Former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was convicted of a number of heinous acts 2012, and they will cost the University and its athletic programs dearly. The Penn State Nittany Lions football team is two seasons into a four-year probation that will always be a blight on the university, but just might end up being a pivotal moment in which they officially shed the somewhat archaic identity of the past and move into the modern era with a confident swagger under the tutelage of head coach Bill O’Brien.

The 2013 regular season began well with two consecutive victories, but the Nittany Lions lost a close game to the Central Florida Knights in mid-September. From there, the team alternated wins and losses every single game for the rest of the season. Victories over Michigan and Wisconsin were highlights, and losses to Indiana and Minnesota were low points.

In a normal year, Penn State would probably be asked to enter one of the first dozen bowl games, but that will have to wait a few years. However, the team is clearly being built from the ground up, and despite all the drama that has happened in Happy Valley, there are many things for Penn State football fans to be excited about as the team looks forward to 2014.

Quarterback Christian Hackenberg will be a year older and stronger both physically and mentally. The freshman was asked to step into a huge role at times throughout the season, and he performed admirably. O’Brien and other coaches obviously sold him on the idea that NCAA sanctions would expire while he was still at the University, and he is probably counting down the days until he has a shot at leading this team to a National Championship.

O’Brien has shown an amazing ability to recruit five-star players on both offense and defense, giving fans more than enough reasons to scoop up tickets and sell out the stadium week in and week out. Word has spread in recent weeks that the staff is wooing some blue-chip offensive lineman who would provide excellent stability for Hackenberg to work his magic. The wide receiving corps is full of young talent anxious to make an impact on the big stage. Bowl game or not, defensive lineman and linebackers know that displaying their skills at Penn State on a weekly basis in the fall is an excellent way to audition their talents for pro scouts.

Of course, rumors continue to swirl that O’Brien is ultimately seeking a job elsewhere and is open to listening to suitors on the professional level. The majority of fans hope that the 44-year-old Massachusetts-native will plant his roots in State College and establish a legacy that could make him the next great Penn State head coach. Uneasy fans can take comfort in the fact that if O’Brien does indeed leave, the best and most qualified candidates around the nation will be getting fitted for a new suit and hoping for the opportunity to interview for the position.

Penn State Wrestling Quickly Becoming Dynasty, Undefeated Thus Far

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Penn State Wrestling Quickly Becoming Dynasty, Undefeated Thus Far

The NCAA Division 1 Wrestling Championships date all the way back to 1928. The competition has been dominated by schools from the state of Oklahoma and Iowa. Coincidentally, it was Penn State University that broke a 25-year initial streak of one of the two aforementioned states winning the wrestling title when the bunch from State College, Pennsylvania emerged victorious in the 1953 tournament held at the Rec Hall on campus.

Amazingly, only three universities outside of Iowa and Oklahoma have emerged victorious as Division I wrestling championships in the several decades since. That adds up to over 80 years of college wrestling dominated by landlocked states full of strong and aggressive wrestlers.

All of this history has sets the stage for a shocking trend that has developed over the last three years. The Penn State Nittany Lions have emerged as the victors of the NCAA Division I Wrestling National Championship each of the past three seasons. This is not only an impressive run that can now be considered a dynasty, it is a shocking buck of the trend and clear proof that the University located on the East Coast is quickly becoming the epicenter of college wrestling.

A record-breaking attendance mark set in Happy Valley recently got the attention of the collegiate wrestling world, and the team didn’t disappoint. Unfortunately for opponents, the Nittany Lions are every bit as ferocious on the road. About a week ago, they marched into Iowa City and dominated a dual meet that served as a clear indication that teams throughout Iowa and Oklahoma might be looking up to Penn State in the wrestling rankings for some time.

The team seems poised to build on the success of three consecutive National Championship wins, and all weight classes are packed with youthful talent. The majority of the roster’s most important role players are sophomores and juniors who are already benefiting from world-class coaching and the exposure of college wrestling’s biggest stages.

Penn State is currently undefeated as of press time in their 2013 – 14 regulars season schedule. As each match unfolds with the weight classes building successively, it is clear to see the team has few if any weaknesses. Studs such as David Taylor and Matt Brown are apt to dominate their opponent by excessive force from the start of each match, while wrestlers such as Jimmy Lawson control the action with finesse and pinpoint timing.

 Folks interested in getting in on the action at Rec Hall should understand that tickets are in high demand. Penn State is becoming a dominant international force in several collegiate sports, and all the pieces are in place for them to be a powerhouse in wrestling well into the foreseeable future. They currently occupy the #1 overall ranking in the nation, and an upcoming trip through the meat of the Big 10 Conference schedule will likely leave squads such as Perdue, Northwestern, Michigan State and Minnesota icing their bruises.

Nittany Lady Lions On Top of College Volleyball World After Dominating Tourney

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Nittany Lady Lions On Top of College Volleyball World After Dominating Tourney  

From 2007 – 2010, the Penn State Nittany Lions Women’s Volleyball Team rattled off four consecutive Division I National Championships. In the process, they became one of the most dominant modern-day squads in the collegiate ranks. It is rare for a team to win a string of championships in any sport on any level, and four in a row etched the Nittany Lions into college volleyball history.

After laying low for a few years and letting other teams experience the rush and thrill of participating in the final, the Women Nittany Lions once again returned to prominence this season, handling almost every opponent en route to a 34 – 2 record. This earned them the #2 overall ranking heading into a tournament of the 64 best volleyball teams in the nation.

PSU won each of their first two matches of the tournament in convincing fashion, blanking their opponent 3 – 0 before they prevailed 3 – 1 over a feisty Michigan State Spartans team in the regional semifinals. Stanford University seems to be building a similar program on the other side of the nation, and the Cardinal gave the Nittany Lions all they could handle in a match that turned out to be good preparation for the Final Four.

Penn State once again shattered the hopes of a Pac – 12 team when they knocking off Washington 3 – 0 to advance to the National Championship against the Wisconsin Badgers, who came into the tournament with the #12 ranking.

Knowing that it was imperative to get out to a quick start and not give the Badgers any momentum, the leaders of the experienced PSU squad took control the game. The silky smooth Arial Scott ended the night with an astounding 21 kills, and many of them came at pivotal moments that demoralized a Wisconsin team that came into the night hoping to make volleyball history.

Fellow senior Katie Slay did plenty of damage while adding 14 kills of her own, and AJ McLendon was her normal feisty and aggressive self while compiling double-digit kills and almost reaching double-digits in digs. The clock struck midnight for Wisconsin about halfway through the match, and the Cinderella team went back home with a 3 – 1 defeat yet plenty to be proud of. The action was close throughout the match, and the teams were within a few points of each other for the vast majority of the night.

The win means that Penn State has officially reestablished itself as a modern-day volleyball dynasty. The impact on recruiting will be like a domino effect in Happy Valley as the strongest high school volleyball players up and down the East Coast and beyond are becoming interested in playing on a close-knit team with a passionate following that is built for repeated success. The win brought the overall National Championship count for the Penn State Women’s Volleyball Team to six. Prior to the astounding four season run last decade, Penn State won its first championship in Hawaii against the aforementioned Stanford Cardinal in 1999.