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Let’s fix Tennessee and Penn State!

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Two great tastes that taste great togeth-wait where are you going

Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images. Banner Society Illustration.

With their loss to Iowa on Saturday afternoon, Penn State dropped to 0-5, the worst start in program history. Roughly 900 miles away and 200 minutes later, Tennessee lost to Auburn, bringing their record to 2-5. That’s the worst start for the Volunteers since … last year. See, some things haven’t changed in 2020!

The problems for each program are so plentiful that Black Shoe Diaries wants everyone associated with the Nittany Lions to share the blame, including the bloggers, while Rocky Top Talk is questioning whether Tennessee Football is even capable of being saved. I can’t find a simple answer for either school, but I have observed two interesting patterns.

Penn State’s a dreadful first half team. They’ve trailed by at least two scores at halftime of every game this season, and the defense has surrendered 2.5 more yards per play than the offense has produced. In the second half, however, things turn around significantly. The Nittany Lions win the last two quarters by an average of five points, and they outgain their opponents by nearly two yards per play.

Tennessee, meanwhile, does the opposite. The first-half Volunteers have been pretty formidable, leading at halftime by an average of 1.5 points and drawing just about even with their opposition in yards per play. In the second half, things have fallen completely apart. Tennessee’s given up a yard and a half more than they’ve gained, and they lose quarters three and four by an average of 12 points.

Getting either Penn State or Tennessee to play well for an entire game would take a lot of work, work that James Franklin and Jeremy Pruitt make a combined nine million dollars to do. But through the power of teamwork, we can build one fairly competent team by ourselves from these parts.

Behold the might of TENN STATE, the team that’s Tennessee in the first half and Penn State in the second!

Tenn State Football

CATEGORY RANK
CATEGORY RANK
Point differential per game: 6.97 48th
Yards per play: 5.75 59th
Yards per play allowed: 5.21 36th

2020 Tenn State’s closest statistical match is 7-1 Miami, a team that doesn’t always control games from start to finish, but manages to win all the same. I imagine Nittany Lion and Volunteer fans would take that profile, given that their teams don’t control games from start to finish and manage to lose.

Tenn State is not a team likely to win its conference (it’s very inconvenient that Big South is already taken as a name) or get into the playoff; the Hurricanes got pretty thoroughly outplayed by Clemson earlier this season. But Tenn State can finish with a strong record, get some positive media buzz, maybe snag a nice preseason ranking in 2021, and head coach Jeremy James will likely earn himself a sizable contract extension. That’s the good news.

The bad news is we have these other halves of Tennessee and Penn State, and we need to do something with them. To be green, or whatever. Shield your eyes before you look at our other creation, the team that’s Nittany Lion in the first half and Vol in the second: The University of Pennessee.

Pennessee Football

CATEGORY RANK
CATEGORY RANK
Point differential per game: -29.51 124th
Yards per play: 4.34 123rd
Yards per play allowed: 6.29 100th

WELP. This team’s closer, statistically speaking, to Kansas or Vanderbilt, who are a combined 0-13. Pennessee’s not winning shit this year, and things aren’t looking great for future seasons, either. Pennessee is the team opponents love to see in their cross-division rotation, a program that frustrates bettors when the other team covers a 37-point spread by halftime. UP fans are morose, wondering why the school even fields a football team when it could focus on its success in other sports or its academic profile.

Oh, and Pennessee’s definitely trying to hire Hugh Freeze.