Houston vs. Penn State: Last-Minute Spread Info, Line & More for TicketCity Bowl
While there are some who feel that they should not be playing in a postseason game, the Penn State Nittany Lions will close out the season with a matchup against the Houston Cougars in the TicketCity Bowl.
Houston had its chance to play in a BCS game, but a 21-point loss to Southern Mississippi in the Conference USA championship game ended that dream. To make matters worse, head coach Kevin Sumlin left to take the job at Texas A&M. But Case Keenum and Co. will still have a chance to finish the season with a school-record 13 wins.
Penn State wishes that its problems were as mundane as Houston's. Interim head coach Tom Bradley has done his best to keep the players' focus on the field, but they can be forgiven if they seem a little distracted considering everything that has gone down at Happy Valley since November.
Who Will Win The TicketCity Bowl?
Where: Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas
When: Monday, Jan. 2 at 12:00 p.m. EDT
Watch: ESPNU; ESPN3.com
Betting Line: Houston (-6)
Key Storyline: Off-Field Distractions
Houston has to deal with losing its head coach to another school, but the athletic department did not waste any time in naming Tony Levine as the next leader of the program.
Levine knows the team well since he has been an assistant the last two seasons, but the sting of losing Sumlin might be too much for this team to overcome in this game.
We all know what has happened at Penn State, so there is no need to go into great detail about it. The one thing I will say is that it is going to take a lot to keep the players' attention on this game.
Houston Injury Report
Penn State Injury Report (via USA Today)
Questionable: QB Rob Bolden (personal)
Doubtful: WR Shawney Kersey (personal), CB Derrick Thomas (academics), QB Matt McGloin (head), WR Curtis Drake (disciplinary), RB Brandon Beachum (ankle)
Out: LB Michael Mauti (knee)
What It Means For Houston
The Cougars don't get to live out their BCS fantasy, but they do have a chance to complete the most successful season in school history. This is a program that is on the rise and a game against a major conference opponent will be the perfect showcase for them.
What It Means For Penn State
While it is going to take a long time for this program to regain its reputation, winning a bowl game will be a nice way to start the healing process for everyone involved with the football team. It's not going to mean much in the grand scheme of things, but for them, it could be everything.
What They Are Saying
Penn State players are still trying to wrap their heads around everything that has gone down, and defensive end Jack Crawford told the Associated Press that this has been a season unlike any other he has experienced.
“It’s been like no other season in college football,” defensive end Jack Crawford said. “It had nothing to do with the program right now. … We’ve been ridiculed. People have accused us of things that we had no control over. It’s been interesting and an experience.”
Houston Player To Watch: QB Case Keenum
Keenum is arguably the most successful college quarterback in college football history, at least statistically. He set records for total offense, career completions, passing touchdowns and is the only player in FBS history to throw for 5,000 yards in three seasons.
This will be his final college game, and he wants to make it memorable. He has yet to disappoint this season, throwing for over 300 yards and at least one touchdown in every game.
Penn State's defense is better than what he is used to facing, so he will have to make adjustments in this game to live up to his lofty standards.
Penn State Player To Watch: RB Silas Redd
The Nittany Lions do not have a good offense, but when they are playing up to their potential, they have the ability to score 25-30 points.
Redd is the best and most consistent player they have. He ran for 1,188 yards and seven touchdowns in the regular season, and should be able to have a big day against a suspect Houston defense.
Key Matchup: Case Keenum vs. Penn State Defense
Keenum's most daunting task of the season comes in his final college game. He has been able to compile huge numbers against soft Conference USA defenses, but Penn State is bigger, stronger and faster than anyone else that he has gone up against.
That is not to say that Keenum won't be able to shine in this game, but it will be interesting to see how he performs.
The Nittany Lions don't have a good offense, so they have to get stops and create turnovers if they want to stay in this game.
Houston matches up well with Penn State, so look for them to finish the season with a big "W."
Houston 35, Penn State 21
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