Penn State Nittany Lions (7-5 SU, 5-7 ATS) vs. Florida Gators (7-5 SU, 6-6 ATS), Outback Bowl, 1:00 p.m. EST, Saturday, January 1, 2010, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla. TV: ABC
by Ryno of Predictem.com
Betting Odds: PSU +7.5/Fla -7.5
Over/Under Total: 48
Normally, a Penn State Nittany Lions versus Florida Gators game is a possible national championship affair. In most years, it’s at least a BCS game. But this year, it’s neither. It’s not even close. Neither Penn State nor Florida is even close to a BCS bid. Both teams are lucky to even be playing in a bowl game. This powerhouse matchup will take place in the Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
Penn St. failed to beat a ranked opponent all seasons long. The Nittany Lions stared off 3-1 with wins over Youngstown State, Kent State and Temple and a loss at Alabama. But then they lost two in a row to Iowa and Illinois. Then, it looked like they would turn it around. The Nittany Lions won three games in a row over Minnesota, Michigan and Northwestern. But they ended the season on a bad note by losing two of their last three games to Indiana and Michigan State. In their first four losses, the Nittany Lions scored a combined 33 points and didn’t come within 20 of any of those teams. They lost 28-22 to Michigan State at home in their last game after a 41-24 win at Indiana.
Much of Penn State’s failures this season have to do with their quarterback play. They started the season with freshman QB Robert Bolden under center and he really struggled. He threw for 1,360 yards, five touchdowns and seven interceptions. Sophomore QB Matthew McGloin replaced Bolden and has thrown for 1,337 yards, 13 touchdowns and four interceptions. Running back Evan Royster is the key to Penn State’s offense. He has 891 rushing yards and six touchdowns. Derek Moye leads the team in receiving with 48 receptions for 806 yards and seven touchdowns.
Florida started the season at 4-0 and all was looking fine in the start of the post-Tim Tebow era. They breezed past Miami of Ohio, South Florida, Tennessee and Kentucky. The Gators won all four games by at least 14 points, scored at least 31 in all four games, and allowed no more than 17 points in any of those four games. But then, the Gators lost three games in a row to Alabama, LSU and Mississippi State. They rebounded with consecutive wins over Georgia and Vanderbilt, but they still ended the season by losing two of their last three games to South Carolina and Florida State – by a combined 46 points – with a win over Appalachian State sandwiched in between. Just like Penn State, the Gators also failed to defeat a ranked opponent all season long.
John Brantley replaced Tebow as the new Florida quarterback. And he didn’t fare so well this season. He has 2,020 passing yards, nine touchdowns and nine interceptions. The Gators have a dynamic running attack that doesn’t rely on any one player. They may hand off to any of Jeffery Demps, Trey Burton, Chris Rainey, Mike Gillislee, Emmanuel Moody and Jordan Reed, who all together combined for 1,901 rushing yards and 27 rushing touchdowns. Burton leads the way with 11 touchdowns. Deonte Thompson is the team’s leading receiver with 36 receptions for 548 yards and a touchdown.
Urban Meyer retired as the Florida head coach after the regular season ended. Will Muschamp was named as the new Gators coach.
Florida has the 13th best pass defense in the nation, allowing 173 passing yards per game. The Gators have more interceptions (17) than passing touchdowns allowed (16). Penn State is allowing 187.9 passing yards per game. Florida is allowing 129.9 rushing yards per game, while Penn State is allowing 164.6 rushing yards per game.
Penn State is 1-4 ATS in its last five games as an underdog. Florida is 6-1 ATS in its last seven neutral site games as a favorite and 4-1 ATS in its last five bowl games. The under is 7-0 in Penn State’s last seven non-conference games and 6-0 in its last six games vs. SEC teams. The over is 6-0 in Florida’s last six games vs. the Big Ten.
Ryno’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I like the Gators to win and cover here.