2011 Outback Bowl: Penn State vs. Florida prediction

The run up to the Outback Bowl has been mostly about the coaches: Florida’s Urban Meyer, stepping down at age 46 and Penn State’s Joe Paterno, planning to return for his 46th season at age 84. Meyer is apparently off to ESPN following today’s game. Paterno and his family denied rumors that he had been in much worse health than reported.

As for the game, Florida lacks a quarterback and pass rush. Penn State lacks a defensive line and the offensive line isn’t too great either. The Gators probably have an edge in special teams and since field position is crucial, good punting will make a difference. The Nittany Lions have to hope that Anthony Fera is healthy enough after an appendectomy to put, because his replacement as inadequate against Michigan State.

QB Matt McGloin is on the spot for PSU. He should get plenty of chances for throwing underneath — will he have the discipline to find Brett Brackett and Graham Zug instead of throwing long to Derek Moye often? In the running game, I think the Lions need to make Silas Redd, a true frosh, the feature back over incumbent senior Evan Royster.

Florida can run the ball well and Penn State has not been strong against the run. The return of Mike Mauti should help a great deal — the defense was a completely different team with him against Ohio State than without him. After he left, Ohio State was unstoppable against Penn State. I don’t know that Mauti’s presence could have been enough to win it for PSU, but I think it would have at least been closer.

It is a tough call whether Penn State, which is apparently retaining their coaching staff (though the Pitt job that Tom Bradley interviewed for my be reopened), has an advantage over the departing Florida staff. Paterno knows how to win bowl games better than anybody and I think he staff and team have had less distractions than the Gators, but Meyer may get a more fiery effort from his upperclassmen.

I couldn’t make up my mind on the outcome so I did a coin flip to see who would win 21-17. It came up Florida. Bah! I’ll do the homer pick anyway.

Florida 17
PENN STATE 21

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