Joe Paterno gets 400th win in comeback fashion

With a recruiting pitch like that, it’s no wonder that Joe Paterno has hit the 400-win milestone.

He got it today with a 35-21 comeback win against Northwestern. As I have written in this place before, I feel like this should be Paterno’s final year at Penn State, but I say that knowing that he’s done so much in this sport, and I didn’t need today’s milestone to tell me that. Hitting 400 might be what he was waiting for, who knows.

Either way, it’s absolutely remarkable that a man at his age is still doing what he’s doing. I realize that he’s not calling the plays, and that he’s probably not as involved in the game-planning as he used to be, but he’s still there. He’s still stalking the sidelines and demanding respect from his players with his mere presence. He’s still Penn State personified.

So today is not a time to talk retirement or direction of the Penn State program. Today is a day to celebrate an absolute legend and the milestone he’s reached that won’t likely ever be hit again.

Congrats, JoePa, you deserved it.

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Mark Ingram who? Trent Richardson rolls over inexperienced Penn State.

TUSCALOOSA, AL - SEPTEMBER 11: Trent Richardson  of the Alabama Crimson Tide rushes against Drew Astorino  and Stephon Morris  of the Penn State Nittany Lions at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 11, 2010 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Those who follow the Alabama Crimson Tide knew that Mark Ingram could sit out another week and the team would be just fine with Trent Richardson taking the bulk of the carries – even with No. 18 Penn State coming to town.

And they were fine – more than fine.

The nation’s best backup compiled 190 yards of total offense and one touchdown as the Crimson Tide dominated the Nittany Lions 24-3 in Tuscaloosa on Saturday evening. Richardson rushed 22 times for 144 yards (6.5 YPC) and one touchdown, while also catching four passes for 46 yards.

Just as impressive as Richardson’s performance was the effort by the Tide’s defense. Nick Saban’s D held PSU to only 283 total yards, including 156 through the air. They also forced four turnovers and if it weren’t for a garbage field goal in the fourth quarter, the Tide would have produced their first shutout of 2010.

Of course, the final result tonight was hardly shocking. The Nittany Lions are an extremely young team and while quarterback Robert Bolden is going to be good someday, he’s only a freshman. He looked poised last week, but obviously there’s a difference between playing Youngstown State at home and Alabama in one of the toughest environments in college football. He was bound to show his inexperience, which he did.

Getting back to Ingram, he had knee surgery less than two weeks ago and it’s still uncertain whether or not he’ll return next week against Duke. With Richardson lining up in the backfield, it looks like the defending Hesiman winner can take as long as he needs to return to the field of action.

Alabama’s Mark Ingram out for opener – will he miss Penn State game, too?

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 07: Running back Mark Ingram #22 of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates with the BCS Championship trophy after winning the Citi BCS National Championship game over the Texas Longhorns at the Rose Bowl on January 7, 2010 in Pasadena, California. The Crimson Tide defeated the Longhorns 37-21. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Alabama head coach Nick Saban announced today that Heisman running back Mark Ingram will miss the team’s opener this Saturday after having arthroscopic knee surgery on Tuesday morning.

The story here, however, isn’t that Ingram will miss the San Jose State game. If ‘Bama can’t beat San Jose State then they don’t deserve to be mentioned as BCS title contenders, even though Ingram wouldn’t have suited up for the contest.

The bigger story is whether or not Ingram will play against Penn State, which is the Tide’s second game of the season and obviously their first real test in 2010.

The Penn State game is in 11 days. I’m no doctor, but I’ve never heard of a player coming back from knee surgery to play a football game in 11 days. Ingram may very well be able to do it, but that seems like an awfully ambitious recovery time for that type of injury.

Granted, Saban has made it clear that the operation isn’t serious and Ingram is expected to be back soon. But 11 days? This seems like a two-week injury at least and a four-week injury at most, but again, I’m not a doctor.

But let’s assume for a moment that the Tide will be without Ingram. They should get past San Jose State on Saturday, but can the trio of Trent Richardson Eddie Lacy and Demetrius Goode carry ‘Bama against the Nittany Lions in Week 2?

Keep in mind that this shouldn’t be as strong a PSU team as we’ve seen the past couple of years and ‘Bama does have the luxury of playing this game at home. The Lions also had to replace all three starters at linebacker from last year and they have issues at the quarterback position.

But it’s still Penn State, who will no doubt be looking to use the Alabama game to make a statement for the rest of the year. And if Ingram can’t go, then the Lions certainly have a shot to pull off the upset, even with the number of weapons the Tide have on offense this year.

2010 Big Ten College Football Preview: Ohio State back on top

COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 26: Quarterback Terrelle Pryor #2 of the Ohio State Buckeyes hands off to running back Brandon Saine #3 of the Buckeyes during a game against the Illinois Fighting Illini at Ohio Stadium on September 26, 2009 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Here’s a quick and dirty look at how I see things playing out in the Big Eleven this season:

#1 Ohio State
Some believe the Buckeyes’ offense might be close to catching up to their defense in terms of dominance, which is saying something with the way OSU’s D played a year ago. The Buckeyes return all three leading rushers from 2009 in Brandon Saine, Dan Herron and quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who some believe has become a more committed teammate over the offseason. The key to OSU becoming a national title threat is Pryor, or more specifically, whether or not he’ll make opponents respect his passing game. The good thing for him and the Buckeyes on a whole is that they return four starters to a veteran offensive line that will open up plenty of holes for a deep and talented group of running backs. Defensively, OSU was a top five unit last season and could be once again this year assuming they can generate a pass-rush and the safeties can hold up in coverage. Cameron Heyward is one of the nation’s best defensive ends and Ross Homan is a playmaker at the outside linebacker spot. The secondary isn’t flashy, but cornerbacks Chimdi Chekwa and Devon Torrence are solid. From a schedule standpoint, if they can beat Miami in Columbus in the second week of the season, they should be 6-0 heading into Madison on October 16. From there, they’ll be tested by Wisconsin, Penn State and Iowa, but this is your clear favorite to win the Big Ten.

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College Football Program Power Rankings

Welcome to a new feature on The Scores Report. We thought it would be interesting to tally up all the major accomplishments of a college football program and assign a point value to each category in order to rank them against one another. Then our football guru, Anthony Stalter, wrote a little bit about each program and the direction that it’s headed.

Here’s how the points are calculated — 20 points for a national championship, 10 for a BCS title game loss, seven for a BCS bowl win, five for a BCS bowl loss, five for a BCS conference championship, three for a mid-major conference championship, two for a BCS conference runner-up and one for a major bowl appearance (i.e. a bowl that has a recent payout of more than $2 million — Capital One, Outback, Chick-fil-A, Cotton, Gator, Holiday, Champs Sports and Alamo.) You’ll see the total points in parenthesis after the team’s name.

We put some thought into the point values for each accomplishment, paying special attention to how the point values are relative to one another. For example, we figured that one national championship would equate to four BCS conference championships, or three BCS bowl wins. We only looked at the last five years, as college football has increasingly become a fluid and fickle sport, and that’s about how far back a recruit will go when deciding amongst a list of schools.

Lastly, since a program is so dependent on the guy in charge, we added or subtracted points if the program upgraded or downgraded its head coach in the last five years. A max of 10 points would be granted (or docked) based on the level of upgrade or downgrade. Again, we tried to quantify the hire relative to the program’s other accomplishments. For example, hiring Nick Saban is probably worth two BCS bowl appearances, or 10 points. (Sure, he might lead Alabama to more, but he also might bolt for another job in a year or two.)

So, without further ado, here are the rankings. Every year we’ll go through and update the numbers based on what the program did that year (while throwing out the oldest year of data), so don’t fret if your team isn’t quite where you want them right now. Everyone has a chance to move up.

1. Florida Gators (61)

National Championship: ’08-W, ’06-W
BCS Bowl: ’09-W
Conference Championship: ’09-RU, ’08-W, ’06-W
Major Bowl Appearance: ’07, ’05

It’s hard to argue that the Gators don’t deserve the top spot with two national championship victories, three BCS bowl wins, two conference championships and five bowl appearances in the past five years. Considering they play in college football’s toughest conference, what Urban Meyer’s program has been able to accomplish in the past five years has been incredibly impressive. The program dodged a bullet when Meyer rejoined the team.

2. Ohio State Buckeyes (58)

National Championship: ’07-L, ’06-RU
BCS Bowl: ’09-W, ’08-L, ’05-W
Conference Championship: ’09-W, ’08-RU, ’07-W, ’06-W, ’05-RU

The Buckeyes are subjected to criticism every year because they play in a weak conference that doesn’t have a title game, but keep in mind that they have absolutely owned the Big Ten over the past five years. They have finished no worse than second in each of the past five seasons and have also appeared in two title games. While it’s true they lost in both of those appearances, just getting there helped them greatly in these rankings.

3. Texas Longhorns (49)

National Championship: ’09-L, ’05-W
BCS Bowl: ’08-W,
Conference Championship: ’09-W, ’05-W
Major Bowl Appearance: ’07, ’06

The Longhorns have been a model of consistency. They’ve made a bowl appearance in each of the last five years, won a national championship in 2005 and made a title appearance this past last year. It’ll be interesting to see how Mack Brown’s program fares in 2010 now that Colt McCoy has graduated and youngster Garrett Gilbert is set to take over at quarterback.

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