For the first time in three seasons, Penn State is going bowling.
The Nittany Lions are back in the postseason mix after two years of bowl sanctions and their destination comes as little surprise. James Franklin and his crew are headed to New York City for the Pinstripe Bowl and a date with Boston College. The Nittany Lions and Eagles will clash Dec. 27 at 4:30 p.m. as part of a four-game bowl schedule.
Penn State (6-6) began the season with four straight victories, but its issues, many on the offensive side of the ball, became glaring midway through the season and contributed to a four-game losing streak and losses in six of the team’s final eight games. A combination of inexperience and offensive line woes resulted in the Big Ten’s worst scoring offense.
The Nittany Lions were largely competitive behind a dominant defense that ranked among the nation’s top 10 in scoring (8th, 17.7 ppg), rushing (1st, 84.8 ypg) and total defense (2nd, 269.8 ypg). Senior linebacker Mike Hull was the Big Ten’s leading tackler by a wide margin, averaging 11.2 stops per game, while redshirt junior tackle Anthony Zettel ranked third with 15 TFLs and added eight sacks and three interceptions.
On the other side of the field, Boston College takes a blue-collar approach with a rushing defense that ranks No. 4 nationally, allowing 94.8 yards per game, and a rushing offense that ranks 14th, averaging 251.8 yards. Fifth-year senior quarter Tyler Murphy led the way with 1,079 rushing yards while ranking sixth in the Atlantic Coast Conference in total yards (217.1 ypg).
The defensive matchup will be played in a cooler climate at a unique venue in Yankee Stadium. Penn State’s fans travel to bowl venues well, while Boston College sits less than 200 miles from the Bronx and could send its share of fans. The stadium’s capacity of 49,542 should be close to its limits.
Bob Flounders and Andrew P. Shay break down the matchup and look ahead to the Nittany Lions’ first bowl trip since the 2011 season on this week’s Keystone Sports Network podcast. Check out audio from the show in this post and get plenty more podcasts and analysis on KeystoneSportsNetwork.com and by following @KSNSportsNet on Twitter.