Another day, another pair of bowls. Here's what we'll be talking about today.
Boston College (7-5) vs. Penn State (6-6)
The New Era Pinstripe Bowl || Yankee Stadium, New York, NY
When: 3:30 PM Central
Line: Boston College (-2.5) || O/U: 40
When Boston College has the ball: On paper, Boston College isn't all that great of an offensive team. While this is mostly due to the fact that they are led by a run-first, dual-threat QB driven offense - powered by Senior Tyler Murphy - it still is hard to negate just how brutal a passing team this is. Out of 128 teams, they rank 123rd in total passing yards per game. Understanding that there is more tot hat equation, they also rank 63rd overall in YPA and the 11/10 TD/INT ration isn't exactly an impressive number. To make matters worst, they will lineup against the strength for the Nittany Lions - the defense.
Penn State is statistically the second best defense in the nation, and is basically the only reason they are bowl eligible. They boast a fierce rush defense that has held better offenses than Boston College to season lows. I'm just going to assume Boston College won't score more than one touchdown in this game, which isn't really even going on a limb.
When Penn State has the ball: I like that my bowl previews focus on the negatives. I suppose that makes sense. Anyhow, just like BC, Penn State isn't exactly a great offensive team. Oh, and when I say not great, I mean awful. The Nittany Lions come into this game averaging a measly 325.5 yards per game, which lands them 117th out of 128 teams overall. They are averaging a whopping 4.49 yards per play, which is good for 123rd out of 128. Their rushing game is averaging 2.96 yards per rush, which is fourth worst in the NCAA, and the passing game is barely manageable at a whopping 6.0 Yards per attempt, good for a tie for 110th place. This is not a good offense, and the regression of Christian Hackenberg, plus no rushing game, offensive line, WR help, etc., has been just an atrocity to watch. This will be priority number one in the offseason for Franklin.
But hey, Penn State is bowling and it's not like Boston College is that great on defense... oh. So they're 12th in total yards per game, 29th in yards per play, and will be active and aggressive against a weak Penn State offense. This game is seriously on pace to be a slow, low scoring, somewhat awful looking affair. Two anemic offenses versus two good defenses (who both are pissed off that they carried their awful offenses) and Yankee stadium.
Miscellany: Penn State is bowling!
Pick: Boston College 13 - Penn State 9
What you all predicted:
Nebraska (9-3) vs. USC (8-4)
Pacific Life Holiday Bowl || Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA
When: 7:00 PM Central
Line: USC (-7) || O/U 62
When USC has the ball: The Trojans are going to be throwing the ball in this game. Junior QB Cody Kessler put up some pretty great numbers this season in throwing for 3505 yards, 36 touchdowns, and only 4 interceptions. Kessler's 168.82 efficiency rating is good for third overall nationally behind only Marcus Mariota and JT Barrett. Of course it helps to have a Nelson Agholor who is averaging 101.9 ypg receiving and has hauled in 11 touchdowns. This is a machine of an offense that Nebraska will need all hands on deck to stop.
Which, in theory they have the ability to do so. This team has had its defensive foibles - to say the least (and yes, Wisconsin just scored again but so did Ohio State and... let's just say it sucks, huh?). However, they aren't that bad against the pass from an efficiency standpoint (3rd overall). It's just that, let's just say the big play is a possibility on every down. Nebraska doesn't necessarily have a DB who can shut down Agholor on their own and will rely on a pass rush to do something to stop the Trojans. Randy Gregory, Maliek Collins, Vincent Valentine, and Greg McMullen have the talent to do so, but let's just say I'm not feeling great about this side of the ball.
When Nebraska has the ball: Interim HC Barney Cotton says that Ameer Abdullah is about as healthy as he's been all season, which is basically the best possible news coming out of the Husker camp possible right now. Tim Beck is coaching for a job at this point - and should get one honestly - and so I expect a loose, fun offensive approach that centers on Abdullah running the ball and Tommy Armstrong stretching the defense by throwing the deep fly 20 or so times. USC has been more susceptible to the pass than to the run this season, but visions of Boston College keep dancing in my head. It will take some creativity, but Nebraska will need to score points to make this a contest. Like I said, this game is basically the Abdullah Show. Look for Nebraska to rise and fall based on him. Unfortunately, a battered to death line - marred by the fact that the Huskers will be on their third string Center - might mean that won't make a difference.
Miscellany: The last time these two teams met, it was 2007 and Gameday was in Lincoln. That game ended 49-31 in favor of USC. I'd really like this to be the opposite.
The Pick: I hate picking Nebraska games. I'm saying 27-21 USC, though.
What you all picked: