Pinstripe Bowl 2014: Preview, Predictions for Penn State vs. Boston College
Penn State will play in its first bowl game since the 2011 postseason as the Nittany Lions (6-6) will face Boston College (7-5) in the Pinstripe Bowl.
This is Penn State's first bowl game after a two-year absence due to sanctions imposed as part of the Jerry Sandusky case.
The teams haven't played since 2004, when BC won 21-7.
Let's take a look a the Pinstripe Bowl, which will be played on Dec. 27 at 4:30 p.m. (ESPN).
Tale of the Tape
Boston College makes the most of its red-zone opportunities, a sign of how efficient the Eagles are at running the ball.
But Penn State can gain momentum with a few turnovers after forcing 21 this season.
Boston College Keys to Victory
Run, run and run some more
Boston College doesn't pass very much, but the Eagles are among the nation's best rushing teams. So they must run against a very good Penn State rush defense to win the bowl game.
The Eagles average 251.8 rushing yards per game, ranking 14th in the FBS. When they win, the Eagles rack up massive rushing totals. In their seven wins, BC has outrushed opponents 2,115-284.
Play the run tough, too
BC allows just 94.8 rushing yards per game. Steven Daniels (68 tackles) and Josh Keyes (63 tackles) have been part of the reason why the Eagles have been consistently good, holding opponents under 100 rushing yards in seven of 12 games.
Penn State doesn't put up a lot of points. But they have two good running backs in Akeel Lynch and Bill Belton, who combined have run for 1,121 yards and 10 TDs.
Penn State Keys to Victory
Minimize the BC run
Penn State has one of the nation's top rush defenses, holding opponents to just 84.8 yards per game (tops in the nation). Facing a mobile quarterback like Tyler Murphy will be yet another challenge for Penn State.
The Nittany Lions are stingy against the run and pass, allowing just 269 yards per game and 17.7 points per game.
More efficiency on offense
Penn State averages 19 points per game and this should be another game where points are tough to come by. Sophomore Christian Hackenberg averages 217 passing yards per game, but he has just eight TD passes. He must get Penn State down the field against a tough Boston College run defense.
Because BC runs the ball so much, there just aren't many drives for opponents (Florida State, for example, only had seven and the Eagles nearly pulled off the upset). So Penn State will need to mix up the run and pass and try to make the most of each drive.
Boston College Players to Watch
Quarterback Tyler Murphy
Murphy graduated from Florida in December 2013 and transferred to Boston College. He has run for 1,079 yards in his final college season, setting a new ACC record. Murphy doesn't throw often but he completes 56.9 percent of his passes and has 11 touchdowns with 10 interceptions.
Tailback Jon Hilliman
The freshman tailback has 712 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns, putting him into a second-place tie among the ACC leaders. Hilliman also broke the BC freshman record for carries, and he now has 185 rushes.
Penn State Players to Watch
LB Mike Hull
Penn State's leading tackler with 134, Hull led the Big Ten in tackles and was a first-team all-conference linebacker. The 6', 230-pound senior also has 10 tackles for loss and is a physical presence who leads the Nittany Lions.
RB Akeel Lynch
Lynch has run for 603 yards and four touchdowns. The 6', 200-pound senior, who was born in Toronto but played his high school football in New York, leads the team with 4.6 yards per carry.
WR DaeSean Hamilton
Hamilton has 75 receptions and 848 receiving yards. The 6'1'', 200-pound sophomore has just one touchdown but has been effective in helping the Nittany Lions move the chains by averaging 11.3 yards per catch.
What They're Saying
Penn State coach James Franklin
To gopsusports.com: "We are very excited and appreciative to be going to New York City. Penn State has a long and storied bowl history and we look forward to another opportunity to keep our family together. I am so happy for our players, especially the seniors, for this chance to play together one more time."
BC quarterback Tyler Murphy
To bceagles.com: "It's definitely big to get back to another bowl game. Hopefully we can get a bowl game win and go 8-5."
Don't expect many points. Boston College loves to drains the clock behind an effective ground attack. Penn State mixes up the run and pass but Hackenberg must limit his turnovers after giving up 15 in the regular season.
This game will come down to Penn State's rush defense vs. Boston College's ground attack. Give the edge to the Nittany Lions, who should come up with enough stops to pull out a close win in a low-scoring contest.
Penn State 23, Boston College 17