Epic Michigan vs Penn State Battle Could be 2013 Game of the Year

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Epic Michigan vs Penn State Battle Could be 2013 Game of the Year

The mighty Michigan Wolverines have been climbing the ranks of the oh-so-important AP Poll and have even entertained dreams of tossing their hat into the BCS Bowl picture. These hopes were thrown a curveball this past Saturday in Happy Valley as the Penn State Nittany Lions figured out a way to prevail 43 – 40 in a game that featured four overtimes and all sorts of memories that were immediately etched into the minds of fans of both talented programs.

Michigan only had one legitimate scare on their schedule to this point while racking up a 5 – 0 record that included a victory over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. A road game at Penn State is no walk in the park, especially when the gigantic fan base and all ticket holders collaborate to create a “White Out.” This occurs when everybody in the stadium agrees to wear a white T-shirt, and several thousand fans ramped it up a level by also donning white pants or a white hat. The result was an environment that was quite intimidating to a Michigan Wolverines team that is one of the most galvanized in the nation when it comes to playing in bitter environments.

Michigan scored 10 points in the first quarter but ended up going into halftime trailing 21 – 10. 17 third-quarter points put them back in the driver’s seat before the teams exchanged punches in the fourth quarter and ended up going into overtime tied at 34. Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg continued to perform impressively considering he is a true freshman, and he ended up passing for over 300 yards and three touchdowns.

Wolverines wide receiver Devon Funchess is a fan favorite, and for good reason. He once again put together an astounding performance highlighted by two touchdowns in just four receptions for 112 yards. The 28-yard-per-catch average is an unprecedented total that immediately gained him entry into the Michigan football history books.

The home crowd was noticeably weary that Michigan could win in overtime and waltz back to Ann Arbor with a huge road win. The teams exchanged defensive jabs while holding the opposing offenses scoreless throughout the first frame. Each offense managed only a field goal in the second overtime, and the game officially entered the phase where both teams were forced to go for two-point conversions following touchdowns.

Amazingly, neither team scored in the third overtime period, prompting a fourth overtime that came on the heels of six consecutive possessions that began from only 25 yards away from the goal line but did not result in any touchdowns. After Michigan put a field goal on the board and felt good about their chances to win a three-point game, Penn State finally marched the ball down to the goal line before Bill Belton –who carried the ball only two times throughout the entire matchup to this point – scored from 2 yards out to give Penn State a well-earned and very memorable 43 – 40 victory.

2013 Where Is Penn State University

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2013 Where Is Penn State University

Pennsylvania State University is a large and illustrious institution that has nearly 45,000 students enrolled on its main campus. Stationed in the city of University Park, it is very near the geographical center point of the large state of Pennsylvania. The campus is highly accessible from all major metropolises along the Eastern Seaboard and is within a few hundred miles of inland cities such as Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio.

Every year, tens of thousands of people make the trip to Penn State in order to bear witness to one or more football games, which are basically national holidays in the region. The proud and large fan base has been cheering the Nittany Lions to victory for decades, and the team is beginning to come together and take shape for another run at a National Championship.

Visitors to the campus will weave through the beautiful meadows and hills surrounding the University on all sides. Folks coming from the east or west will use Interstate 80 to access Interstate 99, which will drop drivers off at a street that can runs directly into campus, such as E. College Ave. Folks coming from the south will use beautiful highway 322 to weave through quaint farming communities such as Lewistown and Milroy before arriving in University Park. Many will be compelled to take a moment to take photographs or video of the beautiful landscape surrounding the city, and the entire area is a hotbed for recreation such as hiking and driving off-road vehicles.

If you’re going to the area to see a Penn State football game, it is a very wise move that you equip yourself with the proper attire. To show up to a Nittany Lions football game without any Penn State gear can make you stand out like a sore thumb, or worse, be mistaken for a fan of the enemy. This problem can easily be solved by paying a visit to the Lion and Cub Clothing Store, an establishment that has become an institution on campus and a favorite of students, alumni and fans.

After shopping for the best Penn State merchandise, you may certainly become hungry, and College Avenue presents a wide variety of options. If you’re in the mood for good breakfast, stop by the Waffle Shop. The waffles that are produced at this place are truly works of art, and making your way through an entire one is a challenge. The Corner Room is always packed at lunchtime, and for good reason. The establishment offers some of the tastiest classic combinations in town, and low prices keep the locals coming back.

Anybody will be able to get a quality dinner at The Tavern, a down-home place that represents a true slice of the culture and style of University Park. Even though all these establishments have their “regulars,” all are very comfortable environments where visitors from any state in the nation will feel welcome.

After walking around and enjoying a few sights, a sweet tooth might certainly kick in, which means it’s time to head over to The Diner for a grilled sticky. This bread-based pastry is loaded with and coated with some of the stickiest and most savory sugars before it is topped off with a few scoops of vanilla ice cream. It’s a very substantial treat and a meal in its own right. At the end of a long day of eating and having fun, one grilled sticky can be shared with several friends.

While visiting University Park, it will be become clear which spots are the student’s favorite places all around town, and these are usually the places where the best deals and items can be found. Another great dessert spot is The Creamery, and is conveniently located on campus, so folks can enjoy a tasty treat only a few minutes after the conclusion of a football game.

One thing that simply has to be done during a visit to University Park is a picture by the historic and iconic Nittany Lion statue. The smooth and sleek work of art encapsulates the attitude of the University and the football team, while providing a beautiful backdrop for people to pose for very memorable photos.

Michigan Versus Penn State: Epic Rivalry Rekindled

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Michigan Versus Penn State: Epic Rivalry Rekindled  

No matter what the specifics are regarding record, rankings and overall relevance, the annual affair between the Penn State Nittany Lions and the Michigan Wolverines is a very high-profile and important showdown that draws the attention of two large and passionate fan bases and the entire college football nation.  They are calling for a “White Out” in happy valley.  That means all the Penn State fans will be wearing White Penn State Nittany Lions apparel.

It would be perfect if both squads went into this game undefeated, but the Nittany Lions have lost two games in the beginning half of their 2013 schedule. They were each close battles against Central Florida and Indiana, but PSU still has a lot to prove throughout the rest of a slate that will feature a bundle of well-known and often nationally televised teams.

The Michigan Wolverines are 5 – 0 this season and drawing attention from so-called experts that initially dismissed them as a contender this year. The truth is that the Wolverines have already dispatched of every opponent in their way, including a feisty Connecticut team and a Notre Dame Fighting Irish team that was in the National Championship Game last season. Although they have yet to get the respect of the pollsters who ultimately determine the fate of all college football teams, the Wolverines are obviously a very talented group prepared to fight any team put in front of them for a full 60 minutes.

Both Michigan and Penn State will ante all the chips to the center of the table this Saturday. The Nittany Lions are coming off a game in which they were held scoreless throughout the first quarter before putting a touchdown on the board in the second quarter and scoring 17 points in the second half. Unfortunately, this was nowhere near enough to keep up with an Indiana team that was ready to go from start to finish, scoring in every quarter and bolstering their 44-point total with 23 in the final period.

All indications seem to suggest that Penn State is not quite prepared for a Wolverines team that can move the ball down the field on the ground or through the air. Quarterback Devin Gardner has shown the ability to hook up with receivers whenever he needs to, specifically sophomore tight end Devin Funchess.

Yes, it is true, both a quarterback and his favorite receiver have the same unique first name. A large and passionate Michigan Wolverine fan base is ready to watch the team succeed and achieve a level of greatness that they have not tasted in several years. The Penn State Nittany Lions are hoping to score a landmark victory in order to prove their talents to a large fan base hopeful for a team that can redefine the University as they move forward.

If Michigan is able to win this game, it will set the stage for a series of Big 10 standoffs that will truly define this Wolverines team. Upcoming bouts against Michigan State, Nebraska, Northwestern and Ohio State will ultimately allow the 2013 version of the Michigan football team to be anywhere between outstanding and ordinary.

Best Places to Eat in University Park, Pennsylvania

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Best Places to Eat in University Park, Pennsylvania

Penn State University rests on a rectangular shaped-slice of land that is tilted a bit eastward, and a large and well-kept campus is alive with activity during every Saturday in the fall when the Nittany Lions football team is in town. Beaver Stadium lies on the northern outskirts of campus and is surrounded by fields and parking lots. An epicenter of food can be found near the southeastern edge of campus, and we have visited the region and conducted extensive research in order to come up with a short list of the best places to eat every meal of the day.

Breakfast – Waffle Shop

It is true that this place only accepts cash, but that might be because they are absolutely “money” when it comes to everything from timely service to tasty food. A line that weaves out of the door of the relatively small establishment is a testament to its popularity, and students, alumni and locals alike enjoy filling up their bellies with down-home egg combinations, waffles, tasty ham and a variety of other early morning staples.

Lunch – Café 210

With two separate high profile outdoor dining areas and dozens of comfortable places to plant yourself before, during or after a Penn State football game on a Saturday, Café 210 is correct in calling itself the place to be seen near the State College campus. There are not a lot of frills to be found inside this three-story building built about a century ago, but the food and drinks continue to please the masses. It is an affordable place to fill up on alcohol, cooked meat and a variety of fried foods. Additionally, it has become a bit of a social hotspot, so those who are interested in experiencing a day in the life of Penn State football on the ground level should go ahead and make a visit to the well-known eatery.

Dinner – The Tavern

The Tavern is one of those establishments that re-creates their menu every single day and features a bevy of specials on any given night. Fortunately, they do not have the nose-in-the-air attitude toward the common customer, and they are ready to greet any type of Penn State football fan with open arms. The prime rib they serve up costs nearly $30, but it comes with a slew of sides and is prepared over the course of a few days using crushed peppercorns and a well-honed marinade starring garlic. Lamb, strip steak, veal cutlet and all sorts of fish can be had here. It is the perfect place to visit if you are in town for a weekend and are interested in experiencing the best of the area. The Hickory Grilled Filet Mignon is the equivalent of the most glorious 80-yard touchdown run you have ever seen.

Dessert – Insomnia Cookies

A bevy of instant love, respect and admiration should be given to a desert place that specializes in cookies and delivers them until 3 AM on any given morning. This place is known for a gigantic cookie that comes in a cardboard box normally used for pizza, which is a clear indication of their devotion to an understanding of the common Penn State football fan in the market for a late-night treat. Chocolate chunk cookies and peanut butter cookies are only a few of the highlights, and the only way you can go wrong is to not pay this place a visit next time you’re in town to see a Penn State football game.

College Football Rule Changes New To 2013

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College Football Rule Changes New To 2013

Savvy NCAA football fans are well aware of the ins and outs governing every single play, but even the most hard-core can have a difficult time keeping up with the various off-season rule changes before they actually see them implemented in regular season play. We have reviewed every adjustment and modification to the college football rulebook and boiled the list down to a short discussion featuring the most important.

Many off-season rule changes were designed to minimize injuries, especially those that result from a hit to an essentially defenseless player. A handful of acts that occur on the football field have been defined as putting a player in a “defenseless” situation. Unloading on a kicker just after they kick a ball, hitting a kick returner just after they catch a ball, smacking a ballcarrier who has fallen to the ground or hammering one who is clearly out of the field of play will not only be noted with a 15-yard penalty, it will also result in an ejection of the offender.

One distinctly gray area in the collection of situations defining defenseless players is “A receiver whose focus is on catching a pass.” How this ends up being legislated will go a long way toward determining the course of the regular season for many defense-oriented schools. 15-yard penalties and automatic first downs are damaging enough, but the immediate removal of a player who could certainly be an instrumental piece of any school’s stop unit is such a powerful deterrent that it could easily lead to members of the secondary approaching the game entirely differently.

Other rules seem to be aimed at bringing college football up to speed with the professional ranks. Referees will now be allowed to institute an automatic 10 second runoff when the clock stops within the final minute of each half as a result of an injured player. The clock obviously stops in the immediate wake of any first down, but quarterbacks will no longer be given the option to spike the ball to stop the clock if less than four seconds remain on it. This is an interesting new limitation that will likely come into play at some point near the middle of the season in a very important, nationally-televised game.

A handful of cosmetic rules aimed at sorting out jersey numbers are also going into effect at the beginning of the season. Players on the same team simply cannot wear the same number, a practice that had gotten a little out of hand under Head Coach Lane Kiffin at the University of Southern California and on a few other campuses in recent years. Given that each player is presented with 100 different options from 0 through 99, the NCAA decided it was high time to demand that every team gives every player a unique uniform number. Additionally, the school will be penalized substantially if their jersey numbers are too close of a match in color tone with the jersey itself. This rule is seen as a necessary and logical step toward allowing teams to camouflage information that could be important to defensive coaches and players on the defensive unit.

Interestingly, the NCAA Rules Committee did review a proposed rule change that they ultimately rejected. It involved prohibiting teams from wearing the same color jerseys or as close to the same color as they could possibly get to the color of their playing field. The rule is obviously aimed at eliminating the perceived advantage that the Boise State Broncos have on their home field blue turf, but implementing it would have stepped a bit too far into the realm of jurisdiction which comes to teams that happen to wear shades of green that resemble natural grass.

Much Comes into Focus Throughout College Football’s Second Week

The skys brighten after the rain moves out. Photo by Mark Selders

Much Comes into Focus Throughout College Football’s Second Week

After a long off-season in which many fan bases allowed both anticipation and expectations to build, the 2013 NCAA college football season finally began about a week and a half ago. In the 10 days since, a whole lot of truths have been scribbled onto the wall of this year’s campaign, and a few teams are riding high and riding low. Here’s a fast-paced breakdown of the action from Week 2 of what is sure to be a fast-moving college football season.

The Alabama Crimson Tide did not play last weekend, but the #2-ranked Oregon Ducks made the longest journey away from their campus in Eugene since the 70s to play the Virginia Cavaliers on their home turf. The Ducks brought the pain from start to finish, proving to be too fast and too deep at the talent positions for a spirited Virginia team cheered on by sold-out crowd. The final ended up being 59 – 10, and Oregon stopped short of putting their proverbial foot on Virginia’s proverbial throat, it was a clear signal to the entire nation that the Ducks are here to win a National Championship.

The Ohio State Buckeyes had their way with the San Diego State Aztecs at home in Columbus, but they lost starting quarterback Braxton Miller early in the game to what appeared to be a knee injury. The #3-ranked Buckeyes are riding a winning streak that extends back to the 2011 season, but all bets are off if Miller is unable to suit up and get under center throughout the rest of the season.

The 4th-ranked team in the nation is the Clemson Tigers, and they appear intent on not letting go of their top-flight ranking. They took care of the second test on their schedule by dismantling South Carolina State at home, and they will now head into the bulk of a conference schedule that is among the most difficult in the nation.

Many college football fans in the South had their attention fixed firmly on the South Carolina versus Georgia game that unfolded between the hedges in Athens late Saturday afternoon. The offensive juggernauts exchanged blows throughout the first half and went into halftime tied at 24, but Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray and stud running back Todd Gurley were clearly not going to let this team lose two in a row to start the season, and they prevailed with an 11-point victory. The loss will certainly mean a slip in the rankings for South Carolina, who came into the game at the nation’s sixth-ranked team.

Many SEC fans expected the Florida Gators to do big things this year and perhaps even make some noise in the BCS Bowl picture. The possibility for that was dealt a major setback in Miami on Saturday afternoon as the Gators were unable to establish a consistency on offense and were seemingly outcoached for the first time in the Will Muschamp era.

Other top-ranked teams such as LSU, Stanford and Texas A&M all took care of business at home. The other game featuring two teams in the top-25 pitted the Notre Dame Fighting Irish against the Michigan Wolverines in a raucous and jam-packed Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. Michigan set the pace in this game and controlled the tempo throughout, although Notre Dame fought back in the second half to make the final score a respectable one at 30 – 41. Interestingly, it was the exact same final score as the only other game that featured two ranked teams.

2013 Penn State Christian Hackenberg Hype

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 2013 Penn State Christian Hackenberg Hype

 Many Penn State Nittany Lions fans were excited by the arrival of head coach Bill O’Brien, but only the most savvy and well-informed could have imagined how quickly he would put together quality recruiting classes and return the Penn State Nittany Lions into a National Championship contender.

The signing of high school blue-chip quarterback and #1 recruit Christian Hackenberg was the highlight of the 2013 recruiting class, and the arrival of the strong-armed young man to campus has created a buzz throughout Happy Valley. Speculation is running rampant during a time where fans have yet to see the 2013 team take the field in competitive fashion, and the fact that Hackenberg is the only incoming freshmen that is currently included on widely-distributed Penn State football depth chart is a clear indication that O’Brien at least wants the freshmen to get the attention of the college football world. At most, it is a hint that the fact that Hackenberg will be running the show when the season begins late this summer. If he does get the reins to the Nittany Lion offense, it will be the initial stone laid in a path toward him a very successful college career and hopefully, a job at the professional level. But let us not get ahead of ourselves.

Hackenberg dominated defenses who had the misfortune of having to matchup against Fork Union Military Academy over the course of his high school career, operating a pro-style offense in which he essentially played the role of a young Peyton Manning. He grew into a full 6’5″ by the time he walked the stage with his graduating class, and he put together impressive statistical numbers when asked to compete in combine-like workouts. His large and powerful frame and his natural throwing motion excited scouts all over the nation, but it was coach O’Brien who was able to lure the talented passer to campus, and the fact that O’Brien once tutored the young Tom Brady probably helped his cause. Many Penn State fans agree that there is little reason to sit around and wait on a legend in the making if he is indeed ready to take the big stage. It has been rumored that Hackenberg’s jersey number will 14, and the moment that is officially confirmed, you can be sure that Hackenberg Penn State jerseys will be available to the general public.

Additionally, Penn State fans can look forward to a new style of jersey that emphasizes the bold, sleek and powerful Lion’s head, contrasting it against a solid navy colored shirt while maintaining the classic simplicity of the Penn State style. Whatever happens in the next few months, the arrival of Hackenberg on campus has certainly excited the Penn State nation, and rejuvenated a large, passionate and deserving fan base after a few years in the doldrums due to off-field scandals. Penn State fans all over the nation are now counting down the days until the 2013 season opener.

2013 Penn State Football Team Preview

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2013 Penn State Football Team Preview

The Penn State Nittany Lions are hoping to dominate their nonconference schedule and be highly competitive throughout their Big 10 schedule in 2013. The roster is filled with a mixture of seasoned and experienced players and newly recruited talent with sky-high potential. Here’s a breakdown of the 2013 Penn State football team.

Going into the summer, starters at many of the skill positions have yet to be determined. This means that there are a number of competitions that will unfold over the next few months, and fans can be sure that only the best players on the team will have the right to take the field and represent the proud and perennially successful Nittany Lions.

Perhaps the most intriguing addition is freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg. The highly touted five-star recruit was offered full ride scholarships to Tennessee, Florida, Alabama, Georgia and the University of Miami, but he officially committed to Penn State in late February, and coaches are toying with the idea of structuring the offense around the 6’4″ pocket passer with a huge arm. They may ask him to compete with Tyler Ferguson and the two other walk-on quarterbacks for the role, or they could use this year to redshirt him in hopes of letting him grow into a college-level quarterback before even throws his first pass at University Park Stadium.

Junior running back Zach Zwinak is expected to get the bulk of the carries, and the offensive attack and general game plan will be very run oriented if Hackenberg is indeed redshirted. Alan Robinson was the top receiver throughout the 2013 season, and opposing defenses are going have their hands full in 2013 after he has an off-season to mature and add to his frame. After Robinson, the competition for the rest of the team’s receptions is wide open, with four freshman and two sophomores hungry to get out on the field.

Second-year coach Bill O’Brien brought in John Butler to be his new defensive coordinator in the off-season, and a new defensive head coach always means the reopening of competitions for starting roles. The effectiveness of the large and athletic defensive line will go a long way toward determining how successful the Nittany Lions are the season, so the coaches need to makes sure to put the right pieces in the right place.

DaQuan Jones is a large and athletic senior who anchors the line and will likely put up the best stats. As far as the other positions go, a huge collection of freshmen and sophomores will be competing with a couple of juniors for playing time. Abundance of youth is a theme with defensive lineman and wide receivers in Happy Valley, a telltale sign of team that is going to be strong for many years to come.

Penn State will have to hit the ground running once the Big 10 schedule begins, and back-to-back midseason showdowns against Michigan and Ohio State will be the most important matchups. If O’Brien is able to play the right cards along his defensive line and figure out his quarterback situation as quickly as possible, there is an outside chance that the Nittany Lions can win both of these football games. Doing so would certainly thrill large and passionate fan base, and be quite an accomplishment for a coach who took the program over less than two years ago.

Penn State Football Schedule Analysis

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Penn State Football 2013 Schedule Analysis

In the wake of a scandal that exposed corruption and brought embarrassment to the esteemed Pennsylvania State University, the Nittany Lions football team is anxious to turn the page and continue their tradition of success. Unfortunately for the players on the 2013 squad, the team is still on probation and are ineligible to play in a bowl. Nonetheless, this is a talented and hungry group that is expected to compete on a very high level in a deeply talented Big Ten Conference, and millions of passionate fans of the team are sure to be watching while decked out in their favorite Penn State sweatshirt or jacket. Here’s a breakdown of the upcoming season.

The Syracuse Orangemen lost their starting quarterback to the NFL Draft, but they have established themselves as a consistently formidable team out East, and they will be the Nittany Lions first opponent on Saturday, August 31. The game will be played at the newly-minted MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, and Syracuse fans are known for coming out in droves to support their team. Simply put, this will be a very challenging first game, and likely the toughest test out of the first five games of the season.

Penn State plays a relatively soft out of conference schedule this year, including winnable games against Eastern Michigan, University of Central Florida, and Kent State. The team will have an open date on Saturday, September 28, allowing them up brief break to prepare for a very challenging conference schedule stacked with teams who are likely to be in the top 25.

Penn State will begin the tough plow through the Big Ten with a road game at Indiana against the rebuilding Hoosiers and a very important rivalry game against the Michigan Wolverines in University Park on Saturday, October 12. Beaver Stadium is always a difficult environment for teams to play in, and this matchup has been declared an official “white out” game. This means that every fan in attendance will be asked to wear a white Penn State T-shirt or sweatshirt, creating an unspoken sense of unity and an impressive visual display that will be broadcast on national television. Expect this game to be a low-scoring battle that is won in the trenches and ultimately decided by a turnover late in the game.

After another open date, Penn State faces what could be its toughest matchup of the year against the Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. Head coach Urban Meyer has put Ohio State on a direct path to the top since his arrival last year, and the Nittany Lions are likely to go into this game as heavy underdogs. Games in the following weeks against Illinois, Minnesota and Purdue could result in anything from three consecutive victories to three consecutive losses, and how this Penn State team performs in the big games against Michigan and Ohio State will go a long way toward forming their identity.

Penn State will not be invited to a bowl game no matter what happens, so coaches and players just might treat the final two games of the regular season as their own personal bowl battles. The Nebraska Cornhuskers will come to town in late November for a showdown that could unfold underneath gentle snowflakes, and the Nittany Lions will touch down in the heart of Wisconsin a handful of days after that to prepare for a showdown against the Wisconsin Badgers.

There are a lot of tough games on this slate, but if stud running back Zach Zwinak is able to churn out another 1,000 yard season while adding to his total of six rushing TDs in 2012, this Nittany Lions team should finish well above the .500 mark.