Whether you're pumped about this bowl game or not, you better watch it. It's a long time till August and the return of Penn State football. Here are your BSD staff predictions.
Don't kick the ball to Trindon Holliday, and Penn State wins. LSU is down to approximately their 18th tailback of the season, so don't expect them to get much going on the ground. That leaves their offense in the hands of Jordan Jefferson, who can make plays(!) if given time, but really isn't a guy who strikes fear in any decent defense. LSU's had offensive line issues, so unless Jefferson can move the chains with quick decisions and occasional scrambling, it's hard to see LSU scoring too many offensive points.
That leaves the rest of the job up to Penn State's offensive line and special teams -- why should that change now, right? I expect Penn State to give away some points in the kicking game, but not quite enough to be fatal. Infuriating? Yes, but not fatal. Expect OMGSECSPEED arguments to be replaced by excuses about field conditions, which will be both abominable and dangerous.
Prediction: Penn State 24, LSU 16
BSD Mike Says...
I expect the Penn State defense to dominate this game. LSU has lacked consistency on offense all year, while the Penn State defense has been pretty solid. But then, the Penn State secondary hasn't really been tested either. I don't see LSU running the ball well, but if the front seven can't get pressure on Jefferson in the passing game and contain him in the pocket when things break down, the secondary could blow a play or two and give up some easy points.
The key for me will be how the Penn State offense moves the ball on LSU. If LSU can flip the field position and keep the Nittany Lions pinned deep, there's always the danger of falling into Paterno ball, which is basically run on first and second down, pass for three yards when you need five, and punt. Start getting nervous if PSU starts a few drives inside their own 20.
Ultimately, I have to go with the good guys. I saw some LSU fan say of Les Miles's bowl record, "Give Les Miles four weeks, and he can beat anyone." Funny thing is, they were saying that about Joe Paterno back in the 80's. Twenty years later, Paterno has more bowl wins than any coach all-time. So I'm pretty sure he won't be in awe of the Les Miles mystique.
Prediction: Penn State 24, LSU 10
For all the talk about how mediocre Penn State is, and how they haven’t beaten anyone this season, shouldn’t playing the number 12 team in the nation be a little more concerning?
As further proof that our kind of incomplete package is actually justified at 13 this season: No, not really. LSU finished a very clear #3 in the SEC this year without ranking any higher than 6th in any of the major offensive or defensive categories. Other than one specific special teams threat, there's just nothing scary about them.
Trindon Holliday runs 100 meters in 10 seconds; don’t let him do this. Their offense is going to have to over-rely on the pass because of tailback injuries and Bradley can will get guys back to Jordan Jefferson, who’s been sacked 24 times this year.
Penn State probably grinds this one out Outback 2007 style, but it’s either going to be ignored like that game was or piled on if the conference can finally win a couple of BCS games this time.
Prediction: Penn State 21, LSU 10