Matchup Comparison Rating: the special edition

10:21 Cholis Back 0 Comments

Ok, we've got ya covered all the way to New Year's Day, from that point on it's all about vegetating on the couch and taking in as much football as possible (and recovering from your New Year's Eve hangover). Frankly after working on these for a week straight my eyes are ready to roll back in my head and I'm making atrocious grammar and spelling mistakes (more so than usual). But before I end this I would be remiss if I didn't cover the home team, after all this is a Penn State blog.

Penn State (10-2) vs. LSU (9-3)
Jan 1, 1:00 PM - ABC

A word from our sponsor: Hey it's the Capital One Bowl which means we get to see the winner of the Capital One Mascot Challenge. You remember the Mascot Challenge don't you? The contest where fans can vote on the best mascot, then they randomly pick a winner? The same contest that the Nittany Lion won in a landslide in its inaugural season only to be left out in the cold? Yeah, it's awesome. Oddly, the Lion hasn't been invited back to play along.

On the field: LSU lost three games in the fourth quarter, two of those to Florida and Alabama. On paper this should be a win for Penn State. LSU ranks 108th in total yards and Penn State is 10th against the run, 8th in total defense and surrender only 11.83 points per game, good enough for 4th. LSU though is no slouch on defense, they are 12th in scoring D and they've played a tougher schedule then PSU. But this game has all the same issues we've seen all season. Penn State racked up a lot of good numbers against all their unranked foes but laid eggs in the two games with decent opponents. All the same questions we've been asking all season are being asked here as well. Can the offensive line block a decent defensive line? Can Daryl Clark avoid all the costly turnovers that plagued him against Iowa and Ohio State? Just like a lot of the other games we've previewed this game also has the same mismatch on special teams that we've seen all season. LSU has the best punt return average in the nation thanks to Trindon Holliday who averages 17.72 yards per return. Holliday returned one for a touchdown against Arkansas a game that LSU won in overtime. Once again special teams could be the difference.

For Penn State it will be all about Daryl Clark yet again. As he goes so does the Penn State offense. Clark seems to be a little frustrated that fans are questioning his legacy (HT: BSD). So he's out to prove himself yet again. Make no mistake, if he plays well* Penn State should win. For LSU they will have to rely on QB Jordan Jefferson because they are banged up at running back. Jefferson has thrown 9 TD's and only 3 picks in the last five games. Jefferson has very similar numbers to Clark's. Penn State will have to deal with wide receivers Brandon LaFell and Terrance Toliver who have 52 and 47 catches respectively. After that it's quite a drop-off.

+1 unabashedPenn State Loyalty

+1 two evenly matched teams

+1 chance to see PSU seniors one last time

+1 2
nd best punt returner in the nation
+1 Clark and his legacy issues play out

-1 early start time – can our livers handle New Year's Eve and then a 1 o'clock start?

MCR 4 (Viper/Shelby Cobra)

*and by well I mean doesn't turn the ball over and completes the easy passes