Houston Cougars vs. Penn St. Nittany Lions
The Houston Cougars look to win for all of the small conference guys as they take on the Penn State Nittany Lions in the TicketCity Bowl. The Cougars are -7 point favorites over the Nittany Lions with an over/under point total set at 56.5.
It’s tough to think of a program anywhere in history that has gone through more turmoil off of the field than the Penn State Nittany Lions did this season. Once seen as the standard in excellence and how a college football program should be run, it is now seen as a black eye on the world of college sports and beyond. With Joe Paterno no longer coaching concerns have to be around preparation but looking at how PSU finished the year it shouldn’t be an issue. Matt McGLoin has just eight touchdown passes and while the hope is to not make mistakes he has turned it over five times. Silas Redd is a capable back and he’s averaged 5.2 yards per carry and has scored seven touchdowns. Derek Moye has 40 catches, Justin Brown has 34 catches, and Devon Smith has 23 but the passing numbers just aren’t there. While the offense scores just 19.8 points per game and gains 344.8 yards, defensively Penn State has been rock solid allowing just over 300 yards and 15.7 points holding opponents to just 162.2 yards passing. Gerald Hodges has 97 tackles, Drew Astorino has 77 tackles, and Glen Carson has 74 tackles. Penn State as always is sound in the fundamentals and that is what keeps them in ball games.
The Houston Cougars were simply a scoring machine and it’s tough to argue with what they did offensively regardless of it had more to do with personnel or the system, either way they got it done. Of course we can’t talk Houston offense without first going to Case Keenum and his 5,099 yards passing and his 45 touchdowns and just five interceptions. While Houston QB’s have struggled at the next level (See: Andre Ware and David Kligler), we will find out soon enough if Keenum has what it takes in an NFL system. Almost all of Houston’s running backs average over five years per carry and Charles Sims had over 780 yards on the ground and over 540 in the air scoring 13 touchdowns while Michael Hayes had 707 yards rushing with 11 touchdowns and four touchdown catches. Tyron Carrier had 87 catches while Patrick Edwards had 79 catches but 1,524 yards and 18 touchdowns and Justin Johnson had 75 catches, 1,081 yards, and 11 touchdowns. While Houston gained nearly 600 yards per game and scored over 50 points they allow 2.1 points and 386 yards with 171.8 of those yards coming on the ground. The Houston defense doesn’t get much credit but they had 18 interceptions and Marcus McGraw had 131 tackles, Derrick Mathews has 97 tackles, and Sammy Brown had 89 tackles and 12.5 sacks. This is a big game for Houston, Keenum, and all of the smaller conference schools looking to make a statement.
Penn State is 3-10-1 against the spread in their last 14 games overall, 0-5 against the spread in their last five non-conference games, and 1-5-1 against the spread in their last seven games as an underdog. Houston is 7-1 against the spread in their last eight games as a favorite, 2-5 against the spread against a team with a winning record, and 2-5 against the spread in their last seven non-conference games.
The total in this is set at 56.5 and I don’t see that being an issue here as both teams are in attack mode.