(7-5, 6-6 ATS)
Penn State Nittany Lions
(7-5, 5-7 ATS)
One of the oldest coaches that has ever graced the sidelines in NCAA football betting action takes on a man that might be coaching his last ever game on New Year’s Day, as the Florida Gators try to send Head Coach Urban Meyer out in style against Head Coach Joe Paterno and the Penn State Nittany Lions in the Outback Bowl.
The Gators are going to do what they can to make the best out of this situation at the end of the season, but there are a bunch of players that are going to be out of the lineup here in Tampa Bay, most notably DB Janoris Jenkins. It’s also clear that QB John Brantley just isn’t going to be able to do the things that QB Tim Tebow did for four years here in Gainesville. Brantley just barely threw for 2,000 yards this year, and he still hasn’t reached double digits in TD passes on the campaign. The man that is probably going to be the difference maker here on the offense is QB/FB/WR/TE Trey Burton. Burton really does everything, and he even had a game this year in which he accounted for six TDs. Burton threw for 83 yards, rushed for 347 yards, and caught 30 passes for 188 yards, totaling 12 TDs to lead the way. RB Jeff Demps never got going this year, rushing for just 531 yards and three scores, while WR Chris Rainey only touched the ball 67 total times on offense with just 498 yards. A ton of players do touch the ball, but if you take out Demps’ rushing and the receiving of WR Deonte Thompson, there wasn’t a player on the team that had more than 350 yards rushing or receiving.
The Nittany Lions know that they have their work cut out for themselves in this bowl game, but they have to remember that they had a similar challenge last year when they won the Capital One Bowl against the LSU Tigers in the driving rain. Unlike last year, when there was a senior quarterback in QB Darryl Clark, there is no experience left here in Happy Valley. QB Matt McGloin took over halfway through the season for QB Robert Bolden. McGloin threw for 1,337 yards and had a 13/4 TD/INT ratio. His top target is WR Derek Moye, who caught 48 passes for 806 yards and seven TDs. On the ground, RB Evan Royster really had a disappointing season, but there is no doubt that he is the record holder for the most rushing yards in the history of Penn State football. Royster rushed for 916 yards and six TDs on the year, but he is going to need to do a lot better than this in order to take down the Gators.
The whole world is going to be on Florida in this game, but we are going to be the contrarians in the bunch and back the Nittany Lions. Joe Pa really knows what he is doing in games like this, and he has a great history against Sunshine State teams in bowl games. He might not be able to pull off the upset, but he should be able to help this team stay close.
Outback Bowl Free Pick: Penn State Nittany Lions +7.5