Penn State and Boston College to Clash in Pinstripe Bowl
In 2011, the image of Penn State, specifically its football program, was tainted after the breaking of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. In response, the NCAA banned Penn State from postseason play for four years.
It wasn’t until the morning of September 8 of this year that hope was restored to the Penn State community. The bowl sanctions had been lifted, and James Franklin’s club had an opportunity to take its seniors to a place they’d been deprived of since 2011.
This Saturday, that opportunity will be fulfilled. The Penn State Nittany Lions (6-6, 2-6 B1G) will battle the Boston College Eagles (7-5, 4-4 ACC) in the New Era Pin Stripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium in New York City.
In the 24th meeting between these past rivals, the Nittany Lions look to get their first bowl win since the 2009 season while Boston College hopes to put an end to their four-game losing streak in bowl games.
For Penn State to win, they must contain the offensive power of Eagle quarterback Tyler Murphy.
Murphy, a transfer from Florida, has been leading the Eagles at the quarterback position, completing 57-percent of his passes for 1,526 yards and 11 touchdowns. While those numbers aren’t staggering, his rushing numbers are. Murphy leads the team in rushing with 1,079 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Penn State has struggled against rushing quarterbacks in the past. Against Ohio State, J.T. Barrett rushed for 75 yards and two touchdowns, helping them seal a double overtime victory.
However, the Penn State defense, which ranks second nationally in total defense and first in rush defense, is confident.
“I think we just have to do what we keep doing. I think all year long we’ve been resilient, we’ve been contested,” said senior captain and linebacker Mike Hull.
Hull finished the season with 134 tackles and a slew of awards both on and off the field. Anthony Zettel was a terror for offensive coordinators because of his quickness and instincts. He knotched eight sacks, 15 tackles for loss, five pass break ups, and three interceptions.
On the offensive side of things, Penn State will look to get some type of ground game going. With game time temperatures projected in the upper 40’s and a chance of rain, running the ball will be necessary.
Akeel Lynch leads the team in rushing with 603 yards and four touchdowns. Senior Bill Belton sits a close second with 518 yards and six touchdowns. With Lynch getting more and more playing time, it’s likely to see him get key touches as the game progresses.
It’s no secret that the offense has been struggling, specifically at the quarterback position. Christian Hackenberg has only completed 54-percent of his passes, while throwing for 2,606 yards. Last year, Hackenberg threw for 2,955 yards. It’s concerning that he only has eight touchdown passes on the season, but what’s even more frightening is that he has 15 interceptions. While his sophomore season comes to a close, he looks for one last shot to prove himself.
“You know, he’s frustrated," said offensive coordinator John Donovan. "He wants to win, that’s the bottom line. He’s a competitive son of a gun."
No one questions the sophomore’s competitive spirit, but his competitiveness alone won’t be enough to come out victorious in Saturday’s matchup. He’ll have to do big things with his arm in order for that to happen.
DaeSean Hamilton leads the Penn State receiving corps with 75 receptions and 848 yards. Geno Lewis comes in second, hauling in 48 passes for 669 yards. While both managed to put up impressive numbers, they were unable to find the end zone often, as each finished with just one touchdown grab.
Boston College boasts an effective defense that has done well all season. They allow 21 points per game, and held No. 3 Florida State to a season low 20 points.
For Penn State to walk away victorious, John Donovan’s offensive crew will certainly have to play better than they have all season.
Perhaps wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton said it best, “When we go out there, we’re just trying to prove everybody wrong…we’re playing to win games and basically just do our jobs right and get the W’s on Saturdays.”
The Penn State Nittany Lions will have one more shot in the 2014 season to do just that.
The New Era Pinstripe Bowl is set to kick off at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, December 27. Tune into ComRadio’s Pregame Show beginning at 3:30 for complete coverage from the Big Apple.
Alex Bobbyn is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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