Penn State Football: 5 Bowl-Bound Teams Nittany Lions Could Crush
At this point of the season, the sanctions placed on Penn State by the NCAA are really starting to sink in.
After this weekend’s conference championships, it is becoming more and more clear about what teams will be playing in which bowls and against whom.
Although it looks like Notre Dame will most likely be facing Alabama in the National Championship, beyond that there are many uncertainties about the football bowl season.
What is certain though is the fact that the Nittany Lions are better than many teams qualified to play in bowls this year.
Here’s a list of bowl-eligible teams that Penn State would be able to handle if the Lions weren’t sanctioned.
Matthew Holst/Getty Images
For the Chippewas, 2012 has been another disappointing season.
After winning the MAC Championship three times in four years from 2006-2009, the program hasn’t been able to maintain its growth.
Opponents averaged 197 yards rushing per game against head coach Dan Enos’s defense, and the team gave up 33.3 points per game too.
Penn State running back Zach Zwinak finished off the season with another dominant performance, and it would be continued it if the Lions were playing Central Michigan in a bowl game.
Eric Francis/Getty Images
Penn State was one of the top teams in the B1G this year; Minnesota was not.
The Golden Gophers were dead last in the conference in passing offense and second to last in scoring offense.
Penn State, on the other hand, was second in the B1G in scoring offense and first in total offense.
This one is a no-brainer; Zwinak would be able to run against a Minnesota defense that gives up 197.1 yards per game and McGloin would be able to lead the Nittany Lion offense up and down the field.
Kirk Irwin/Getty Images
Another B1G team, the Boilermakers are an opponent that Penn State beat once and would be able to crush again.
Let’s just look at Purdue’s previous contest with the Lions earlier this season, where Penn State won 34-9.
Zwinak was able to rush for over 130 yards, while McGloin threw for 321 and Brandon Moseby-Felder had a career-high 129 yards receiving.
Both of Purdue’s quarterbacks, Robert Marve and Caleb TerBush, weren’t able to do much against Penn State and only completed 33 of their 62 passes collectively.
It was just an old-fashioned beatdown of the Boilermakers by Penn State, and if these two teams were playing in a bowl game, it wouldn’t be much different.
Cooper Neill/Getty Images
The additions of new teams to the Big 12 Conference didn’t exactly help out the Cyclones this season.
Iowa State finished second to last in their conference only in front of 1-11 Kansas, and ranked last in the Big 12 for total offense and eighth in total defense.
The Cyclones didn’t really have one strong running back, and started three different quarterbacks this season.
Gerald Hodges and the Penn State defense would easily be able to swallow up an Iowa State offense that was in flux all season.
Even without an injured Michael Mauti, the Lions would be able to handle the Cyclones with ease.
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
A bowl game against the Wolf Pack would be the toughest challenge out of all of the teams on this list.
Stefphon Jefferson led Nevada with 1,703 yards rushing and 22 touchdowns, and Cody Fajardo threw for 2,530 yards and 17 touchdowns.
So where’s the problem here?
The defense of the Wolf Pack, or lack thereof. Opponents have averaged over 210 yards per game on the ground, and have given up 24 passing touchdowns this year.
Penn State had a solid defense this season, and its offense was constantly improving.
The Nittany Lions would be able to put up some serious points on the Wolf Pack, and if the Penn State defense played to its potential, Nevada could be crushed.