- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
After all the off-field buzz, Penn State and Florida will actually play a football game on Jan. 1 in Tampa.
Here's a quick look at the Outback Bowl.
WHO TO WATCH: Penn State sophomore quarterback Matt McGloin. McGloin provided a spark for Penn State's offense midway through Big Ten play and brought a much needed swagger to the huddle. He threw 13 touchdown passes and only four interceptions in the final six regular-season games. Florida's speedy and talented defense provides a good test for McGloin, whose ability to attack downfield could open things up for running backs Evan Royster and Silas Redd.
WHAT TO WATCH: Penn State's defensive front seven. The line has underperformed given recent history and the linebackers have been up and down, but the layoff before the bowl has given players like linebacker Michael Mauti time to get healthy. Florida's offense has been shaky and quarterback John Brantley could be transferring after an inconsistent season. It's imperative for Penn State to put pressure on Brantley and force some mistakes.
WHY TO WATCH: Do you really need a reason? Urban Meyer is stepping down as Florida's coach after the game, and there's a ton of uncertainty on the Gators' sideline. How will Florida respond, especially without several key players out with injuries? Penn State coach Joe Paterno and others have squashed the retirement rumors, but the 84-year-old always provides a reason to tune in. Penn State is the type of team that can really use the bowl as a springboard for 2011, when it returns quite a bit on both sides of the ball.
PREDICTION: Penn State 20, Florida 17. The Gators' defense is the best unit on the field and could give McGloin and Penn State problems, but I wonder how Florida will approach this game mentally. Florida is used to BCS bowls, and there have been so many issues regarding coaches, injuries and players' future. Penn State is the type of team that can make strides in bowl prep, and Paterno's ability to win bowl games is second to none. JoePa and the Lions win this one behind a strong defensive effort.