9-3 (5-3), 2nd Southeastern - East
8-4 (5-3), 4th Big Ten
This Outback Bowl has the potential to be a really good game. Tennessee comes in with only 3 losses to Florida, LSU, and Arkansas. While the Nittany Lions have 4 losses to Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan, and Wisconsin. All four of those teams are ranked in the top 11 in the country. But most of the talk of this game is about if Joe Paterno, who just turned 80 years old, will be coaching from the sidelines or the box. Not on the two teams.
Erik Ainge has done an excellent job for the Vols this year when he has played. Late in the season he has been plagued with some injury troubles. That didn't stop him from throwing for 2722 yards with 19 touchdowns and only 8 interceptions. The Vols lead the SEC in passing and their leading receiver Robert Meachem is a big reason why. Meachem has 1265 yards receiving this season with 11 touchdowns will prove a touch match up for the Penn State corners Justin King, Tony Davis, and AJ Wallace.
LaMarcus Coker leads a weak rushing attack for the Vols with 660 yards and 4 touchdowns. For the Vols to move the ball consistently on the Penn State defense, they must establish Coker and the running game.
Penn State comes into the game with a lot of question marks offensively. The offensve that looked so good last year, has sputter big time this season with most of the same cast returning. At quarterback, strong armed junior Anthony Morelli is the man for now. Morelli has thrown for 2227 yards but only 10 touchdowns passes. The heart and soul of the offensive is senior running back Tony Hunt. Hunt has 1228 yards with 11 rushing touchdowns, and he is also a big threat out of the backfield. The Nittany Lions need to find a way to get Deon Butler, Derrick Williams, and freshman tight end Andrew Quarless in open space. Those players can make people miss. Finally on offensive the offensive line, which has struggled in the big games, must protect Morelli or the tough Vols defensive line will be in the backfield all day.
On defense the Nittany Lions are led by ITB All American and two time Bednarik winner Paul Posluszny. This will be Posluszny's last game in a Penn State uniform and he is one of the main reasons the Nittany Lions have turned it around over the past 3 years. Joining him at LB is Junior Dan Connor, who might also be playing his last game as a Nittany Lion because he hasn't said if he is going pro or not after the season. The darkhorse at LB is Sean Lee, if you forget about him he will make a difference.
The past two times Penn State has played Tennessee in a bowl game they were not expected to win and each time they won pretty easy. All year Penn State fans have been waiting for the offense to show some life, and they will have life if the coaches mix up the play calling. Tennessee is no push over. They have a great passing attack and a tough defense to go with it, but I still think there is some magic in those old man's glasses. I believe that the Nittany Lions' defense will keep the game close in the beginning just long enough for the offense to gel. Penn State 24-20
- Penn State
Brian from CFR
- Penn State