The TicketCity Bowl is being held in Dallas, Texas, and it will welcome a Long Star State team to play. In fact, one of the potential BCS busters from the regular season will be facing one of the storied programs in college football – one that has been recently disgraced.
Penn State, of the Big Ten Conference, will square off against regular-season Conference USA champion, Houston, in this season’s TicketCity Bowl.
These two schools have met twice all-time, with Penn State wining both meetings. They first met during the 1964 season, a 24-7 PSU win at Houston. In 1977, Penn State recorded a 31-14 home win over then-ninth-ranked Houston.
The lastest TicketCity Bowl odds list Houston as a 5.5-point favorite and the over/under at 56.5 points.
The Cougars were on the verge of crashing the BCS party with an undefeated season, but it came crashing down in the Conference USA title game with a 49-28 loss to Southern Miss. Houston is adjusting to the departure of head coach Kevin Sumlin for Texas A&M and the move into the Big East next year. The squad was 6-0 away from home and 8-1 in the state of Texas.
Houston is one of the top offensive teams in the country, ranking first in scoring (51 points per game) and passing offense (444 yards per game) en route to amassing 599 yards of offense per outing (155 rushing). Case Keenum is the heart of the offense, completing 72 percent of his passes for 5,099 yards and 45 touchdowns with five interceptions.
The Houston offensive line has allowed 16 sacks this season. Tyron Carrier leads the receiving corps with 87 catches for 914 yards and five TDs, while Patrick Edwards has 79 grabs for 1,524 yards and 18 TDs and Justin Johnson adds 75 touches for 1,081 yards and 11 tallies. Charles Sims and Michael Hayes lead the running game with a combined 1,489 yards and 20 TDs on 62. yards per carry.
Defensively, the Cougars rank 41st in the nation in scoring defense (23 ppg) and allow 386 yards per contest (214 passing, 172 rushing) while posting 29 sacks and forcing 28 turnovers – with three returned for scoress (Marcus McGraw, fumble; Derrick Mathews and D.J. Hayden, interceptions).
McGraw leads this defense with 131 tackles (34 more than anyone else), while Sammy Brown has 12.5 sacks. Phillip Steward has five interceptions to lead the team, and D.J. Hayden has four forced fumbles.
The Nittany Lions tied for the Leaders Division title in the Big Ten, but lost out on a spot in the conference title game when they lost 45-7 at division co-champ Wisconsin in the season finale. After a seven-game win streak, PSU lost two of three in the wake of Joe Paterno’s release. Penn State is 4-1 away from home this season.
Penn State has one of the best defenses in the nation, ranking fifth in points allowed (16 ppg) and surrendering 301 yards per game (162 passing, 139 rushing) while compiling 29 sacks and forcing 26 turnovers.
Gerald Hodges leads the defense with 97 tackles (20 more than anyone else), adding 4.5 sacks, while Jack Crawford has a team-best 6.5 sacks. Nick Sukay has three interceptions, Sean Stanley has three forced fumbles and Jordan Hill has recovered three fumbles.
In stark contrast to the defense, the Penn State offense ranks outside the top-100 in scoring offense (20 ppg) while compiling just 345 yards per game (180 passing, 165 rushing). Silas Redd leads the offense with 1,188 rushing yards and seven scores on 5.2 yards per carry.
Quarterback Matt McGloin has connected on 54 percent of his passes for 1,571 yards and eight TDs with five picks. The offensive line has allowed 12 sacks. Derek Moye leads the receiving corps with 40 receptions for 654 yards and three scores, while Justin Brown has 34 catches for 448 yards and a score.