Legendary coach Joe Paterno leads his Penn State Nittany Lions against the Louisiana State Tigers and Les Miles, affectionately known around the SEC as the Mad Hatter, in the Capital One Florida Citrus Bowl.
Both coaches have found tremendous success in the post season. Joe Paterno has posted an impressive 23-11-1 record while the Mad Hatter is 5-2 in the post season including an impressive 4-0 record while at LSU.
While the more talented writers on Bleacher Report are breaking down the BCS bowl games, I'm taking a look at some of the other games. Next up, The Capital One Florida Citrus Bowl.
The Capital One Florida Citrus Bowl
Jan. 1, 2010
Penn State Nittany Lions 10-2 (6-2) Big 10
The Nittany Lions ranked No. 37 out of 120 in total offense, averaging 412.5 yards per game, and scored 29.7 points per game ranking No. 41. They averaged 173.6 on the ground and 238.9 through the air, both No. 39 in the nation. Penn State turned the ball over 17 times this season, seven lost fumbles and 10 interceptions.
Senior quarterback Daryll Clark leads the PSU offense into the Citrus Bowl having thrown for 2787 yards, completing 214 passes out of 346 attempts for 61.9 percent, and 23 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. Clark finished the season with a 145.7 QB rating, No. 1 in the Big 10 and No. 22 in the nation. Running the spread HD offense, Clark has also carried the ball 73 times for 191 yards (4.4) and three touchdowns.
Junior runningback Evan Royster will get the bulk of the carries. On the season, he has carried the ball 188 times for 1104 yards and six scores, all team highs. He also caught 16 passes for 187 yards and another two TDs. Sophomore Stephon Green will spell Royster and has amassed 284 yards on 64 carries, and has scored three touchdowns on the ground.
When Clark drops back to pass, he'll be looking for wide receivers Derek Moye and Graham Zug, and tight end Andrew Quarless. Sophomore Derek Moye lead the Lions with 45 receptions and 732 yards. He also caught five touch down passes. Graham Zug, a junior, grabbed 42 passes for 549 yards, and a team high seven touchdowns. Senior tight end Andrew Quarless made 33 catches, 448 yards, and three touchdowns, and sophomore Chaz Powell chipped in 27 receptions for 355 yards and three scores.
The Penn State defense is is lead by senior LBs Josh Hull and Sean Lee. Hull lead the team with 110 tackles, and Lee recorded 80 despite missing three games. Senior DT Jerod Odrick lead Penn State with six sacks.
The Lions rank No. 8 of 120 allowing a paltry 277.1 yards per game, and are the No. 4 scoring defense giving up only 11.8 points per game. The rush defense is No. 10 of 120 allowing 93.9 yards per game, and the pass defense is No. 19 in the nation allowing 183.2 yards per game through the air. They have 35 sacks and forced 20 turnovers this season, collecting 13 interceptions and recovering seven fumbles, and a .25 turnover margin.
The Nittany Lions special teams were not all that special. Senior punter Jeremy Boone was solid all season averaging 43.5 yards on 46 punts with a long of 66. Chaz Powell was also solid returning 12 kickoffs for an average of 24.4 per return with a long of 54 on the year. Graham Zug and sophomore safety Drew Astorino have been less than special returning punts netting a combined 81 yards on 15 returns for the year. The weakness has been Junior kicker Collin Wagner. Wagner connected on only 61.1 percent (11-18) of his field goal attempts and only 4-out-of-10 from greater than 30 yards. On a bright note, he had a season long of 47 and converted all 45 of his extra points.
Louisiana State Tigers 9-3 (5-3) Southeastern Conference
The LSU Tigers never really developed an identity during the 2009 season. The talent on this team is obvious to those who have seen them play, but due to injuries, penalties, poor play calling, poor execution, or whatever else you can think of, they just never gelled. As a result, they ranked No. 108 of 120 in total offense, averaging 309.7 yards per game, 129.6 on the ground, which ranks No. 84, and 180.1 through the air, ranking No. 99. LSU protected the ball well this season, giving up only 11 turnovers, four fumbles, and seven interceptions.
The Tigers quarterback is sophomore Jordan Jefferson who completed 169 passes of 272 attempts (62.1%) for 1964 yards, 16 touchdowns while only throwing six interceptions, and finished the season with a QB rating of 137.8 good for No. 6 in the SEC, and No. 38 in the nation. Jefferson has also carried the ball 104 times, but for only 160 yards (1.5) and one touchdown.
LSU will most likely be without the services of its Top Two backs, seniors Charles Scott (collar bone) and Keiland Williams (ankle), so the Tigers will employ a runningback by committee. Sophmore RB Steven Ridley will get the majority of the carries and had 33 attempts for 167 yards (5.1), and two touchdowns for the season. When the Tigers go to their wildcat package, converted QB Russell Sheppard will catch the snap. He has 277 yards on 45 carries and two scores. On third downs, burner and return specialist Trindon Holliday will be in the game. Holliday carried the ball 23 times for 116 yards and one touch down.
The Tigers have two of the best receivers in the country in 6'3" senior Brandon LaFell, and 6'5" junior Terrance Tolliver. LaFell lead LSU in all receiving categories with 52 receptions, 705 yards, and 10 touchdowns. Tolliver was second in all categories with 47 catches, 654 yards, and three touchdowns. Senior tight end Richard Dickson was third on the team with 20 catches.
LSU's defense was much improved in the 2009 season. While they only recorded 20 sacks and forced 18 turnovers, 13 picks, and five fumble recoveries, they only allowed 16.0 points per game which ranked No. 12 of 120. LSU gave up 326.6 yards per game, ranking No. 28 in the nation, allowing 134.2 per game rushing, ranking No. 44, and 192.4 passing, which ranks No. 29.
The defense is anchored by junior DT Drake Nevis and senior DE Rahim Alem, who combined for 152 tackles and eight sacks, and lead by junior linebacker Kelvin Sheppard who lead the team with 103 tackles. Junior safety Chad Jones leads one of the most talented secondaries in the nation and picked off three passes this season. Sophmore cornerback Patrick Peterson is considered one of the top covers corner in the SEC, and had two interceptions, returning one for a touchdown.
It could be said that the special teams carried the Tigers this year. They have been great in all facets of the kicking game. Junior punter Derek Helton punted 43 times for an average of 40.5, and junior place kicker Josh Jasper converted 32-of-32 extra points as well as 16-of-19 field goals, including a long of 52 yards. He was six out of eight from greater than 40 yards. Senior return specialist Trindon Holliday was second in the nation averaging 17.7 per punt return including one touchdown. Safety Chad Jones also has a 93 yard punt return for a touchdown. Holliday also returns the kickoffs and has an average of 23.7.
How I see it:
When Penn State has the ball, they will try and spread LSU out and create running lanes for Even Royster. When LSU has the ball, I think they will go to the air and take advantage of their tall star receivers Brandon LaFell and Terrance Tolliver. In a tight game throughout the difference will be special teams, where LSU has the advantage. Whether its a turnover forced by a coverage unit or a huge return by Trindon Holliday, the Tiger special teams will make a play late in the fourth quarter to set up the winning drive in good field position.
LSU Tigers 23 Penn State 21