Sunday, December 6, 2009
Capital One Bowl
By Adam Rittenberg
Penn State (10-2) vs. LSU (9-3)
Jan. 1, 1 p.m., (ABC)
Penn State take by Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg: Penn State's BCS bubble burst Sunday, but the Nittany Lions still have an excellent chance to notch a signature victory on New Year's Day.
Two of college football's most storied programs meet for just the second time at the Capital One Bowl. Penn State beat LSU in the 1974 Orange Bowl, which capped head coach Joe Paterno's eighth season at the helm. Paterno boasts 23 bowl victories, an NCAA record, and he aims for his 14th season of 11 or more wins against the Tigers.
Penn State's defense has been its calling card all season, as the Lions rank in the top eight nationally in yards allowed (277.1 ypg), points allowed (11.8), tackles for loss (8.25 per game) and sacks (2.9 per game). You can bet Big Ten defensive player of the year Jared Odrick and star linebackers Navorro Bowman and Sean Lee will be geared up to face an LSU offense that has endured its struggles this fall and will be without standout running back Charles Scott (fractured collarbone).
The Lions' Spread HD offense was both dominant at times this fall and dormant against elite defenses in both Ohio State and Iowa. LSU's defense provides another very tough test for Daryll Clark, Evan Royster and, most importantly, an offensive line that has taken some time to jell.
Penn State makes its fifth appearance in the Capital One/Citrus Bowl and its first since 2002. The Lions are 1-3 in the Orlando game.
LSU take by SEC blogger Chris Low: The wolves were howling in Baton Rouge following LSU’s 25-23 loss to Ole Miss on Nov. 21 when Les Miles and the Tigers’ offensive staff butchered the end of that game with their clock management. Miles was roasted by the fans and the media.
That next week, the Tigers were again on the ropes, but they showed their mettle by rallying in the final minute of regulation and beat Arkansas 33-30 in overtime to change the complexion of this season. A home loss to end the regular season, particularly coming off that Ole Miss debacle, would have made for a long offseason no matter what happened in the bowl game.
But, now, the Tigers have a chance to win a 1oth game and get one more chance to improve offensively. That’s been the sticking point, because John Chavis’ defense in his first year as LSU’s coordinator has played well enough to win every game the Tigers have played this season.
Injuries have decimated LSU’s running back stable, and the Tigers are down to Stevan Ridley. Sophomore quarterback Jordan Jefferson has struggled with his overall awareness, and LSU has also given up an SEC-high 35 sacks.
The Tigers are 11th in the SEC this season in total offense (309.7 yards per game). That’s 130 yards fewer per game than what they averaged in 2007 when they won the national championship.