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TicketCity Bowl: Houston vs. Penn State

Present Iteration: TicketCity Bowl
Toasting Town: Dallas, Texas
Vintage: 2011
Combatants: Houston (12-1) vs. Penn State (9-3)
Holiday Equivalent: Tense dinner with relatives.

It’s a “New Years Day Bowl,” but both teams should feel too big to be here. Houston hiccuped in its conference title game, costing itself a BCS bid. Reticence to toast Penn State following the Sandusky scandal, saw them tossed aside by five Big Ten bowls, twice in favor of 6-6 teams. TicketCity spared the Nittany Lions the indignity of spending Christmas in Detroit.

At full capacity, this could be an intriguing establishment vs. Non-AQ upstart matchup. Though, with both teams shaken by rough finishes and led by interim coaching staffs. That’s not probable.

Houston Cougars [SRS 13]
Best Wins: Tulsa (39), Louisiana Tech (45)
Losses: Southern Miss (28)
Famous Alum: Randy Quaid

Houston had a sixth-year senior at quarterback. Not coincidentally, they had the nation’s No. 1 offense, posting 7.66 yards per play and 599 yards per game. They may meet their match in Penn State, however. The Nittany Lions are No. 6 overall in yards per play and No.4 against the pass. PSU’s formidable defensive line must be worked around, rather than through. Though, Houston’s depth and speed at wide receiver could be a decisive advantage.

Penn State Nittany Lions [SRS 29]
Best Wins: Ohio State (34), Iowa (36), Temple (47)
Losses: Alabama (3), Wisconsin (7), Nebraska (23)
Famous Alum: Rick Santorum

As great as Penn State was on defense, they are terrible offensively. They were 94th in total offense and 103rd in passing offense. The more stable of their two quarterbacks, Matt McGloin, will miss this contest after picking a fight with a teammate, getting knocked out and failing a concussion test (and confirming nearly every ginger stereotype). Fortunately for the Nittany Lions, Jay Paterno’s patented seven-minute, two-timeout field goal drives could be just what they need to keep Houston out of sync.

For Recreational Purposes: It’s hard to ignore Penn State’s advantage on both lines and Houston’s step up in competition. The Cougars may win outright, but 7.5 is a lot of points. Penn State (+7.5)

[Photo via Getty]

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