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NCAA Bowl Previews 2015/16: TaxSlayer Bowl

It seems like just yesterday that Bowl season was getting underway but here are, the final day of Bowl season. Kicking it off are the Penn S


It seems like just yesterday that Bowl season was getting underway but here are, the final day of Bowl season. Kicking it off are the Penn State Nittany Lions and the Georgia Bulldogs. For two years now there has been a lot of expectation surrounding Penn State, but they hold just a 14-11 record over the last years, finishing 7-6 last year and 7-5 this year. Nevertheless, a win today will give the Nittany Lions an 8-win season for the first time since 2012 and it will also give them their second consecutive Bowl win. The Nittany Lions struggles this season have come mostly on the offensive side of the ball. They average just 344 yards per game (YPG, 106th), 208.9 passing yards per game (PYG, 80th), 135.3 rushing yards per game (RYG, 106th) and 23.7 points per game (PPG, 100th). Luckily, their defense fairs a bit better. They rank 14th in total yards (324 YPG), 10th in passing (174.5 PYG), 47th in rushing (149.8 RYG) and 30th in scoring (21.7 PPG). Part of the reason for the optimism surrounding Penn State is due to junior QB Christian Hackenberg, but he has not met his expectations – at least not consistently. As a result, he is dropping down draft boards. DE Carl Nassib on the other hand, is doing nothing to hurt his draft stock. Nassib leads the FBS with 15.5 sacks in just 10 games (he played a combined 4 snaps in the final 2 regular season games). One of his biggest strengths is his strength and length combined. Couple those things with the fact he is often the first lineman off the ball and it means he often has the upper hand on tackles early. He covers ground very quickly around the edge and when he is hustling to chase down plays. He has some weaknesses but he has all the tools necessary to develop. DT Austin Johnson, DE Anthony Zettel, TE Kyle Carter, CB Trevor Williams, C Angelo Mangire, DT Tarow Barney and – if he declares – QB Christian Hackenberg are Penn State’s players to watch. The Bulldogs started the season 4-0, Nick Chubb had picked up where he left off and everything was good. But 2 straight losses, exacerbated by the loss of Chubb to a gruesome knee injury, derailed their season. Though they lost just one more game, they were not as impressive for the rest of the season and it cost Mark Richt his job. They are looking to end the season on a high by reaching 10-wins and notching their second consecutive Bowl win. Much like Penn State, Georgia’s offensive and defensive success has been night and day. Offensively, they rank 77th in total yards (381 YPG), 102nd in passing (187.1 PYG), 35th in rushing (194.3 RYG) and 83rd in scoring (26.5 PPG). Defensively, though, they rank 8th in total yards (298 YPG), 1st in passing (146.1 PYG), 48th in rushing (151.9 RYG) and 9th in scoring (16.9 PPG). Junior OLB Leonard Floyd is looking to be the next pass rushing OLB drafted high in the 1st round. Floyd’s forte is his speed rush. He possesses a lethal first step and is immediately on top against tackles, furthermore, he can beat tackles with pure speed round the edge and reach the quarterback very quickly. What’s scary is the fact that a lot of his success up to now is thanks to his natural ability, as he could do with adding more hand moves and refining all of them to really match the standard the NFL demands. He also needs to improve his run defense but his raw abilities and athleticism will draw plenty of attention from NFL scouts. Looking to impress for the Bulldogs in their final games are OLB Jordan Jenkins, OT John Theus, FB Quayvon Hicks, K Marshall Morgan, WR Malcolm Mitchell, DE Josh Dawson, LS Nathan Theus, OT Kolton Houston, DT Chris Mayes, TE Jay Rome, DE Sterling Bailey, CB Devin Bowman, C Hunter Long and LB Jake Ganus. If you want to watch this game, or any of the other Bowl games, the complete Bowl schedule can be found here, where you’ll be able to see how and when you can watch every game.  

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Remy Cabache

Lifetime sports fan. I have written with RealSport since the NFL section started and I have also written for my own blog, EbonyBird.com and I have had several articles published in local newspapers covering my local (American) football team.

NCAA Bowl Previews 2015/16: TaxSlayer Bowl

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