The Outback Bowl in Tampa, FL (1:00pm ET) features the Penn State Nittany Lions (7-5) of the Big 10 facing off against the Florida Gators (7-5) of the SEC in a matchup of teams with storied pasts, coached by National Championship-winning coaches who are coming to the conclusion of a very disappointing season. This game will the last for Florida head man Urban Meyer, while Penn State legend Joe Paterno looks to add to his college football record 24 post-season victories before returning for his 46th season in Happy Valley next season. Penn State dropped 2 of their last 3 games, including a 28-22 loss to Big 10 co-champion Michigan State to conclude the regular season on November 27. Florida also dropped 2 of their last 3 regular season games, concluding with a 31-7 loss at in-state rival Florida State also on November 27.
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Penn State comes into the game with an offense that ranked 9th in the Big 10 with an average of 24.6 points per game. Sophomore Matt McGloin took over as the starting quarterback for freshman Robert Bolden for the final five games of the season and threw for 13 touchdowns with 4 interceptions for an offense that ranked in the bottom half of FBS schools in yards per game, scoring and rushing yards per game. Defensively the Nittany Lions have allowed 22.6 points per contest and 347.5 YPG, 40th best in the nation.
Florida ranked 10th in the SEC in yards per game with 356.8, almost 100 yards less per game than they averaged in 2009. John Brantley, and freshmen Jordan Reed and Trey Burton could all see time under center for the Gators; Brantley threw for 9 touchdowns and 9 interceptions in 12 games for a Gator offense that averaged 29.2 PPG. The Florida defense ranked 7th nationally in yards per game allowed with 294.8, and allowed 21.1 PPG good for 32nd best in the nation. Three key Gator defenders will miss this game including cornerback Janoris Jenkins, and defensive tackles Lawrence Marsh and Terron Sanders.
Penn State is 2-6 ATS in their last 8 non-conference games and 2-5 ATS when playing a team with a winning record. Florida is 20-7 ATS in their last 27 non-conference games and 22-10 AST in their last 32 games as a favorite. The under is 6-2 in Penn State’s last 8 bowl games and the over is 6-1 in their last 7 games overall. The over is 6-0 in Florida’s last 6 games against the Big 10 and 4-1 in their last 5 bowl games. Florida is 1-2 in the Outback Bowl while Penn State is 3-0 in the game and will attempt to become the first team to win 4 Outback Bowls. Urban Meyer is 6-1 in bowl games in his career, including a 4-1 record at Florida.
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Penn State vs. Florida Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Penn State Nittany Lions +7
@ Florida Gators -7
Over: 48 (110)
Under: 48 (110)
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Penn State vs. Florida Prediction for Outback Bowl:
Spread Prediction (Top Play) – Penn State is a solid team defensively and facing an anemic Gator offense they should be able to stay in the game until the end. That being said, Florida should still win the game outright because their defense, while short-handed, will be able to hold down an equally anemic Penn State offense that does not have the speed to match up with the Gators’ defense.
Over/Under Prediction – The over should come in here mostly because the total is so low that even these tow offenses, both of whom struggled to score points all season long, should be able to hop over the bar. This is by no means a sure thing , but with the Gators missing some key personnel on defense, Penn State should be able to score a few points and allow the total to slip over 48.