Thursday, December 28, 2006

Outback Bowl Predictions

With the Outback Bowl fast approaching and Penn State players being sent home one by one it is time to take a look at both teams and come up with a prediction.
Penn State will be down two players (Austin Scott and Ed Johnson) when the coin is flipped on new year's day. Johnson's absence will have the bigger impact of the two, how much of an impact is yet to be seen. The match-up breaks down as follows:

When Tennessee has the ball:
The Vols average 384.6 yds and 29.3 points per game, the majority of that coming through their potent passing game. Their running attack is certainly not their main weapon. Ainge and Meachem will be the combination for the Lions to focus on all day. Penn State's stingy defense, however, only gives up 286.4 yds and 14.8 pts per game. If the Lions defense is schemed properly, and if Justin King plays a big game the stat-line should be in favor of Penn State. However, if the offense can't get it going and the Blue & White Defense spends all day on the field it could get ugly.

When Penn State has the ball:
The Lions average 361.6 yds and 22.5 pts per game. Tennessee's Defense has allowed opponents to average 337.2 yds and 19.5 pts per game. However, Penn State has been just as one-sided on offense as Tennessee. Tony Hunt has been the only consistent offensive threat the Lions have and unless some of the young wide receivers(Quarles, Butler, Norwood, Williams, I'm looking in your direction) have a big game it could be a long, low-scoring game.

If you are listening to some loud-mouthed Vols you might be thinking the game on Monday is going to be a track meet. Find the story here.
"The SEC is the SEC, and that's why I came to play football at the University of Tennessee, because I knew it was a high level of football," Volunteers middle linebacker Marvin Mitchell said. "You look at the Big Ten, those types of conferences, they offer different things. I think one of the things that really sticks out as far as the SEC, is the speed we have. I'm sure it will be a different speed, and they'll have to catch up to us once we get there."
I remember people saying the same thing back in '94, and, as it turns out, people aren't fast when they are flat on their ass!
Anyway, I digress. Here is the payoff, my prediction and then rationale:

PSU: 20
Tenn: 17

Here is how it will play out: Ainge and Meachem will connect for at least one big play and have another score or two come from opportunities left on the field by a struggling Penn State offense. Penn State will get in the red-zone six times. Two of these trips will result in TDs for Tony Hunt. Two more will look promising until they are squandered by penalties and mistakes (resulting in field goals). The remaining two will end in a turnover (whether from an interception, fumble, or downs I won't venture to guess. The Penn State defense will create two turnovers which will each lead to one of the scoring opportunities mentioned above.


No comments: