When: December 27, 4:30pm EST
Where: New York City, Yankee Stadium
Spread: Boston College – 2.5 (via VegasInsider.com)
All-Time Series: Penn State leads 19-4
Last Meeting: September 11, 2004 – Boston College won 21-7
Gift Bag: Variety of New Era products (courtesy sportsbusinessdaily.com) – sidenote: this is clearly the worst bowl gift package in the Big Ten…where’s the fun and flashy stuff?
Preview: (by Dave Fitzgerald)
Unlike the Quick Lane Bowl we previewed yesterday, this game will feature two salty defenses wreaking havoc on struggling one-dimensional offenses. With the scoring explosion across college football this decade, it is clear two offenses will be overmatched when even the Vegas odds makers can’t put an Over/Under at higher than 40 total points, which is what this game is expected to generate. Old-school tough guy football in the Northeast: enjoy it, New Yorkers.
Penn State started 4-0 but needed late comeback wins at Rutgers and Indiana just to finish 2-6 in conference play and reach bowl eligibility. James Franklin may have inherited a good quarterback in Christian Hackenberg, but he has suffered a sophomore slump thanks in large part to an offensive line who cannot protect him.
The Nittany Lions have surrendered an incredible 42 sacks, so expect the opportunistic Eagles defense line (which has 31 sacks on the season) to keep the heat on Hackenberg. That should likely lead to more interception opportunities, with Hackenberg throwing 15 already this season.
Penn State has no significant rushing game to rely on, which could be a huge problem for keeping drives moving. By contrast, Boston College averages only 132 passing yards per game, which is essentially at the bottom of FBS football. However, quarterback Tyler Murphy (1079 yards) and running back Jon Hilliman (712 yards) make one of the best running attacks in college football, generating over 250 yards per game.
Despite Penn State having a defense that has proven it is capable of taking away a similar one-dimensional run-based offense against Indiana, this match up likely does not favor the Lions because Boston College will tend to keep drives alive longer as the game goes along. The PSU defense could very well wear down by the fourth quarter.
Boston College has played well against all three ranked teams (USC, Clemson, Florida State) on the schedule during a 7-5 campaign, and it seems likely the Eagles will play well again in this bowl game.
It’s good that James Franklin can build up his program with 15 bowl practices, but that’s likely not enough to solve the deep offensive problems before facing the Eagles. The Nittany Lions will certainly be happy to be playing anywhere this postseason, but this will likely not be a fun game to play in, let alone watch.
Cover your eyes Big Ten fans, this could be the ugliest of the bowl games in the 2014 new bowl line-up.
Andy: Boston College 24, Penn State 14
Dave: Boston College 23, Penn State 16
Zach: Boston College 23, Penn State 16