NCAA Football

Outback Bowl Preview: Florida vs. Penn State

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Florida vs. Penn State

Tampa, Fla., Raymond James Stadium
Saturday, January 1, 2011 1:00 PM ET ABC

Laying the scene

The 2011 Outback Bowl will mark Urban Meyer's last game as the Gators' head coach. Joe Paterno's too? Not according to the Legendary (see what I did there?) coach, who has stated his intentions to return to the sidelines next season. (Note: Penn State will not be in the Legends Division, they'll play in the Leaders Division; but it hardly matters.)

A lot of people expected a little bit of a setback in Gainesville with so much talent leaving for the NFL, but nobody expected Florida to sit 7-5 at the end of the regular season, failing even to beat South Carolina for the right to face Auburn in the SEC Championship Game. Expectations for the Nittany Lions were not what they were for the Gators, but at 7-5, consider this a down year for Penn State.

What Florida has to do to win

This has been a season the Gators would like to forget. They dropped three in a row in the middle of the year, fell to South Carolina in mid-November in a game that eliminated them from the SEC race and then dropped the season finale to Florida State for the first time since 2003. In four of their five wins, they've failed to score more than 14 points and they failed to reach double digits in three losses.

The Gators need to put some points on the board, but they'll look to the defense to keep a Penn State offense that has struggled this year at bay. Since Matt McGloin took over at quarterback for Robert Bolden in the Minnesota game, the Nittany Lions offense went from scoring 18.2 points per game in the first half of the season to 31 over the last six. Penn State has continued to struggle against some of the better defenses, though, so coming out with intensity on defense will be the key.

What Penn State has to do to win

Florida has turned the ball over 25 times this season and rank 91st in turnovers lost. They've lost 14 fumbles (107th in the nation) and have thrown 11 interceptions (46th in the nation). The key to a Penn State win will be taking advantage of Florida's miscues. There's a lot of speed and talent on the Florida offense despite their struggles this year, so if the Gators slip up and give the Nittany Lions an opportunity to score on a shorter field, they better put the points on the board. Keep in mind, though, that Penn State has had its troubles on defense as well and has forced just 15 turnovers this year, 105th in the nation.

The call

Florida. Both offenses have struggled this season, but if the Gators are able to figure out how to make it work with their three quarterbacks, they'll come away with the win with so much talent still on that roster. Also give the edge to the Gators defense, which ranks ninth in the nation.  - Danny Hobrock

Danny is a sports journalist primarily covering college football and professional baseball. His work for Xtra Point Football has garnered national attention and is critically acclaimed. Danny is the former editor of a political and current events website and the editor of our college football content.

You may email Danny directly at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at DannyHobrock

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