8-4 (4-4), 5th Big Ten
7-5 (4-4), 3rd Big 12 - South Division
December 29, 8:00 pm, ESPN
Texas A&M and Penn State both finished the regular season on a totally different note. The Aggies defeated their arch-rival Texas in Austin 38-30. Penn State blew a 17 point lead in the second half to lose to Michigan State 35-31. The Nittany Lions were hoping to contend for the Big Ten title this year, but early losses to Michigan and Illinois nixed that idea. They hope that in Joe Paterno's 500th game at Penn State they can end the season on a higher note.
The Nittany Lions struggled away from home, losing 3 games. Most of the blame is placed on the shoulders of quarterback Anthony Morelli. Even though he is one of the most prolific passers in Penn State history, the knack of turning the ball over in crucial situations has drawn the ire of many Penn State fans. For the season Morelli has thrown for 2508 yards with 18 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. Running the ball the Nittany Lions have Rodney Kinlaw who took over for Austin Scott. Kinlaw has run for 1186 yards and 10 touchdowns. Redshirt Freshman Evan Royster is also used as a change of pace back. Penn State has three good receivers in Deon Butler, Jordan Norwood, and Derrick Williams. The defense is led by All American linebacker Dan Connor. The defense is 6th in the country against the run and second in sacks per game. They will go up against the teeth of the Aggies offense.
The Aggies rushing offense is 12th in the country and it is led by quarterback Stephen McGee. McGee is an athletic quarterback who excels at running the option. In 12 games this season he has thrown for 2147 yards and 12 touchdowns, while running for 858 yards and 5 touchdowns. When A&M gets close to the goal line they go to their horse in the backfield. 265 pound (plus more) Jorvorskie Lane who has 746 yards and 16 touchdowns. On defense they are ranked 106th against the pass, so if Morelli can make good decisions, he can pick the Aggies apart. But the Aggies are 20th in turnover margin and are led by Marquis Carpenter and his 4 interceptions.
Texas A&M is in flux right now as they are waiting for Mike Sherman to come in to take over the coaching job. They also give up a lot of sacks and are going against the #2 team in the nation in sacks per game. Penn State has not played well defensively down the stretch but come bowl season Tom Bradley always has something up their sleeve. It won't be the shutout that took place in the 1999 Alamo Bowl, but Penn State will win its 3rd bowl game in as many year. Dan Connor, Anthony Morelli and the rest of the Nittany Lion seniors will go out winners. Penn State 27 Texas A&M 17
Picking Penn State to Win
ITB Brian Sakowski, The Enlightened Spartan, Bastard Sons of Pinfall Marks, Football Frontier, Corn Nation, Rizzo Sports, Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician, ITB Charlie Swager, Kansas It's Business Time, Sportsbone TV, MizzouRAH, Jeff Brancolini, Dan Schoonover, Pete Boivin, Rodney Polston, Greg Gowins, Lou Nemec, Sunny Verma, Lorena The Dodgerchick, Matt Kieta, Timmy B, Brian Isaacson
Picking Texas A&M to Win
The LSC Scoop, ITB Ron Juckett, Pitch Right, MidWest Coast Bias, Jason Stiver, Cyril Tircuit, Mrs Corn Nation, Logan Jaffe, Brant Chruscial, Richard Dixon