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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, October 22, 2012 at 9:00 PM

It didn’t seem possible back in mid-September. The Penn State Nittany Lions had endured a college football offseason that some thought would destroy the program. In fact, there were media members who said Penn State’s sanctions were worse than the death penalty. Yet, three games into the Big 10 schedule, a team that was supposed to struggle to beat anybody is undefeated with three double digit romps.

Penn State (+3) beat Illinois 35-7

Penn State (-3) beat Northwestern 37-26

Penn State (+1) beat Iowa 38-14

Note that the Las Vegas betting markets thought all three games would be close! So, it’s not just the mainstream media that greatly overestimated the demise of the Penn State program. Oddsmakers and respected bettors have also been stunned by recent developments. Multiple sharps said that Penn State would struggle to win five games this season. They’ve ALREADY won five games as non-conference victories over Navy and Temple preceded the 3-0 start in league play.

And…league play…has been pointspread covers of 31, 8, and 25 points…with two ROAD blowouts and a home win over a contender from the other Big 10 division. And, look at these DOMINATING stats from the Iowa game last week!


Total Yardage: Penn State 504, Iowa 209

Rushing Yards: Penn State 215, Iowa 20

Passing Stats: Detroit Penn State 26-38-0-289, Iowa 17-36-2-189

Turnovers: Penn State 2, Iowa 3

Third Downs: Penn State 47%, Iowa 17%

Vegas Line: Iowa by 1, total of 42

Iowa was a small favorite! Iowa had just taken out Michigan State on the road to put themselves in Legends Division race. Yet, Penn State pushed them around like they were Kent State or Akron. Rushing yardage was a squash. Total yardage was a slaughter. Penn State moved the chains at will while forcing punts from the Hawkeyes all day long. It was one of the most one-sided conference games of the weekend anywhere in the nation in what was supposed to be a pick-em affair.

And, you can’t call it a one-game statistical fluke because Penn State outgained Northwestern 443-247 the week before.

Penn State is truly getting the job done with classic smash mouth football. They’re owning the point of attack. They’re moving the chains in a way that eats up clock and keeps their defense fresh. This is not some gimmick offense winning shootouts against a cupcake schedule. Sure, the Big Ten is down this year. But, Penn State has regained its footing after a slow start and is now playing at a level that matches up with their best of recent seasons.

Here’s what Penn State’s Leaders Division standings looked like once the weekend was in the books:


Ohio State 4-0 (ineligible, and lucky to be 4-0!)

Penn State 3-0 (ineligible)

Wisconsin 3-1

Purdue 0-3

Indiana 0-3

Illinois 0-3

Penn State isn’t eligible to play in the postseason this year because of sanctions. They actually have a legitimate chance to run the table in the Big 10 to claim the title of uncrowned champions. That would entail:

*Beating Ohio State this Saturday afternoon in a game that will be nationally televised by ESPN. Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller was injured last week, making a home win in Happy Valley even more possible for the resurgent Lions.

*Beating Purdue on the road, which is far from a given…but certainly possible given those impressive results vs. Illinois and Iowa. If Penn State maintains its recent form, this would be another grinder victory.

*Beating Nebraska on the road, a team that played a nailbiter with Northwestern this past weekend. Penn State isn’t likely to be a pointspread favorite in this game unless they take their performance to another level. But…they’re not likely to be overmatched either based on what Nebraska has shown in recent weeks.

*Beating Indiana at home, which looks to be the easiest game left on the card. It will become a danger “sandwich” spot though if Penn State keeps playing well and manages a win in Lincoln. If Penn State is focused, then we’re looking at a possible replay of the routs we saw against Illinois and Iowa.

*Beating Wisconsin in the season finale at home. Regardless of what happens between now and then, THIS is going to be a bowl game for Penn State. They will be playing the team most likely destined to represent their division in the Big Ten championship. There’s no better way to send a message to the nation’s sportswriters than to knock that team off its pedestal under a national spotlight. Maybe Penn State will be fighting for “uncrowned” champion status. Maybe they’ll struggle vs. Ohio State and Nebraska, but still be well positioned for a fantastic finale.

The media was sure this wouldn’t happen. Even the smartest minds in the Las Vegas betting markets were skeptical about Penn State in 2012. Yet, here we are…looking at one of the most amazing stories of the college football season playing out before our eyes. The media is downplaying it because they don’t want to admit how wrong they were. And, ESPN doesn’t like hyping the fact that the best teams in their beloved Big Ten won’t be playing for the title.

As handicappers, you need to get up to speed quickly. You need to make sure Penn State’s current form is represented properly in your Power Ratings. Maybe it won’t matter this week. It’s likely to matter between now and the end of the season given how far the market has been missing in recent Penn State games.

JIM HURLEY is always adjusting his numbers in college football. Preseason estimates have been thrown out the window (especially this year!). Even early September action vs. cupcake schedules have been tossed because everyone now has a few games against real teams. It’s important that you know how teams are playing RIGHT NOW in all the major board conferences.

Here at JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK, we’re able to do that because:

*Our STAT HANDICAPPERS comb through every boxscore to break down the true strengths and weaknesses of every team. Did you see anyone in the mainstream media talking about Penn State gaining 500 yards in Iowa? No, but WE KNEW as it was happening!

*Our SCOUTS and SOURCES keep us posted on injury news from all over the country. You probably know about the big name guys at the TV schools. What about injuries in the WAC? The Sun Belt? The MAC? We cover the full board!

*Our COMPUTER PROGRAMMERS are running simulations based on the most updated information possible. We tweak the software for injuries…for fatigue…for lookahead and letdown possibilities…and for the annual arrogance that hits BCS contenders. It’s easier to pick winners when your computer has played every game out a thousand times to account for every possibility.

*Our WISE GUY CONNECTIONS let us know what the smart money is doing from openers to closers. Yes, some of the sharps are having tough years because this sport is always full of surprises. We’re following the RIGHT money and fading the wrong money.

You can put this handicapping JUGGERNAUT to work for you simply by signing up for the rest of the season here at the website. If you have any questions, call the office at 1-800-323-4453. Remember to ask about adding the World Series to your football package.

We’re back with you Wednesday to preview the World Series right here in the NOTEBOOK. We’ll look at the true offense of the league champions, and scope out the projected pitching matchups through the weekend. When championships are on the line, you need WORLD CHAMPION JIM HURLEY!

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