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The great Head Coach Urban Meyer is set to step away from the Florida Gators this year after the conclusion of the Outback Bowl. However, standing in his way are going to be Head Coach Joe Paterno and the Penn State Nittany Lions, who are no strangers to the big upset against SEC teams in bowl games.
Outback Bowl Matchup: Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Florida Gators
Date: Saturday, January 1st, 1:00 ET
Location: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
Outback Bowl Line: Florida -7
Nittany Lions Notes: This wasn't the prettiest season for the Nittany Lions, but Joe Pa knew that this was going to be a tough season now that QB Darryl Clark was gone. He elected to start for true freshman QB Robert Bolden, but after a tough offensive stretch to the year, he changed his mind and went to sophomore QB Matt McGloin. McGloin threw for 312 and 315 yards in his last two games of the regular season, and he accounted for 1,337 yards and 13 TDs in his handful of appearances. WR Derek Moye had a great third season here in Happy Valley, catching 48 passes for 806 yards and seven TDs, all of which were team highs. This is the final game in the illustrious career of RB Evan Royster, the school's top rusher of all-time. Royster wasn't the Heisman Trophy candidate that the Nittany Lions were hoping for this year, but he did throw for 916 yards and six TDs on the campaign. This defense only allowed 347.5 yards and 22.6 points per game this year, numbers which were great considering the fact that the Big Ten was so strong this year.
Gators Notes: After a pair of BCS National Championships and countless memorable seasons, it looks as though this is the end of the line for Coach Meyer, who will step away and leave the program under the direction of new Head Coach Will Muschamp in 2011. It's also the final game for Offensive Coordinator Steve Adazio, who is heading to the Temple Owls to be their head coach when this one is done with. QB John Brantley might be leaving as well, as he is a young man that just didn't work at this university. He's not QB Tim Tebow, and he isn't the man that he caused to transfer away from Gainesville either… some man name QB Cam Newton. Brantley threw for just 2,020 yards and nine scores on the season. He was a massive disappointment this year, just as RB Jeff Demps was. Demps has explosive speed, but he just doesn't look the same without Tebow in there handing him the ball. He rushed for just 531 yards in 2010. WR Chris Rainey was suspended for half of the season, and as a result, he really never put forth some great numbers either, rushing for 300 yards and catching 22 passes for 198 yards. The defense for UF was the key this year. When it held teams under 30 points, it went undefeated this season. Allowing 294.8 yards per game was great, but without DB Janoris Jenkins, a four year starter, playing is his last game as a senior, UF could be in some trouble.
The Final Word: The Gators seem to be the consensus pick here, but we're really not all that sure. They're not in great shape in this game with a slew of injuries, and the Nittany Lions do have some confidence having beaten the LSU Tigers last year in the Capital One Bowl on New Year's Day. McGloin has this Penn State offense moving, and if PSU can put just a few scores on the board, the 'D' might be able to lead the way to victory in a big upset.
Outback Bowl Free Pick: Penn State +7
Outback Bowl Prediction: Penn State 20 – Florida 16