Penn St. Nittany Lions (10-2; 7-2 Big Ten East) vs Washington Huskies (10-2; 7-2 Pac 12 North)
4:00 p.m. ET, December 30, 2017--FS1
University of Phoenix Stadium (Capacity: 63,400 / Glendale, AZ)
The Redzone TD% and Redzone TD% Defense are calculated by me and not ranked by the NCAA. Determining who has the advantage in these categories is strictly my arbitrary judgment.
When I compile these statistics, I look back at previous charts. In doing that for this Just the Stats post, a couple things stood out to me: while Penn State’s defensive statistics have taken a dip since the meat of the schedule (the three week stretch of Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State, which saw the Lions drop two of three by a combined four points), it hasn’t been significantly such - and other numbers, like the passing stats and the Nittany Lions’ performance on third downs, have actually significantly improved.
PSU will face the nation’s statistical best run defense - albeit one that faced one of the easiest schedules in FBS for the second year in a row - so this may be another game in which Trace McSorley will have to use the pass game in order to get Saquon Barkley going in likely his last game in the Basic Blues.
On paper, this looks to be a dead heat, even matchup. But Penn State is going in absent two coordinators (offensive guru Joe Moorhead having taken special teams coordinator Charles Huff with him down to Starksville) - and this will be the first test on how Ricky Rahne can function as the new offensive coordinator. One new wrinkle? Backup quarterback Tommy Stevens’ inclusion on the depth chart in the “lion” position. Here’s hoping they utilize him in more creative packages to throw off a very good Husky pass rush and defensive front - and a potential sign of what we may see next season.