Outback Bowl Predictions: Florida vs. Penn State Odds and Betting Picks
by Alan Matthews - 12/30/2010
It seems all the news surrounding the New Year’s Day Outback Bowl in Tampa between Florida (7-5) and Penn State (7-5) is about the teams’ respective coaches and not really a whole lot on the field.
Of course, everyone knows by now that this will be the final game in the Florida coaching career of Urban Meyer, who announced he was stepping aside in early December. Unlike his shocking similar decision last year, this one will stick. Meanwhile, Florida Defensive Coordinator Teryl Austin is expected to coach in the Outback Bowl after a trip to a Tampa hospital early this week. The first-year Gators coach was admitted with abdominal pain but was released the next day after being diagnosed with mild gastritis.
And then there’s the legendary Joe Paterno. Rumors were circulating that perhaps Paterno’s health wasn’t that good and that he actually spent some time in a Hershey, Pa., hospital for unknown reasons before the Nittany Lions left for Tampa. But the 84-year-old basically laughed off those rumors.
“People think I'm going to quit this year or next year. I haven't even thought about it. I, honest to goodness, have not thought of it. I don't see any reason to get out of it. I feel great,” he said. “We've got a lot to look forward to next year."
Paterno has more bowl wins (24) than any other coach. And in another coaching twist, PSU Offensive Coordinator Galen Hall coached Florida from 1984-89.
On the injury front, the Gators appear to be at a disadvantage as they lost four starters for this game. The biggest loss is cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who had surgery on his right shoulder. He is considered the top pro prospect on the team and a likely 2011 NFL draft first-round pick if the junior declares. Jenkins is Florida’s top cover corner and has eight career interceptions, including three this season. Right tackle Maurice Hurt and defensive tackles Lawrence Marsh and Terron Sanders also will miss the game. Of those four, only Hurt started every game during the regular season.
PSU seemed to get a boost when sophomore Matt McGloin took over the starting job for the final stretch of the season, as he completed 101 of 174 passes for 1,337 yards and 13 TDs with just four interceptions. But the Lions cooled off at the end, losing two of three – albeit to co-Big Ten champions Ohio State and Michigan State. Penn State does have one of the Big Ten’s best backs in Evan Royster, who gained 916 yards on 188 carries for a 4.9-yard average.
UF fans have been unhappy with starting QB John Brantley, who was never going to be able to live up to Tim Tebow’s shadow. Brantley completed 61.3 percent of his passes for 2,020 yards and nine TDs but the offense was stagnant at times, ranking just 76th in the nation. Brantley may transfer with Will Muschamp set to take over for Meyer, who says he will continue to also use redshirt freshman Jordan Reed and true freshman Trey Burton at quarterback to give the defense different looks.
Penn State last played in this bowl against Tennessee in the 2007 game and Florida last played in Tampa in the 2006 game against Iowa. PSU is 3-0 in the Outback Bowl overall while Florida is 1-2. These two schools haven’t met since 1998.
Outback Bowl Odds – Florida vs. Penn State
Florida is currently a seven-point favorite on college football bowl odds with the total at 48. Penn State is getting approximately 55 percent of the lean. The line really hasn’t moved while the total has risen a point. Florida is 6-6 ATS this year while Penn State is 5-7.
Outback Bowl – Florida vs. Penn State Betting Trends
PSU is 1-4 ATS in its past five as an underdog.
UF is 0-5 ATS in its past five vs. a team with a winning record.
The ‘under’ is 7-0 ATS in PSU’s past seven non-conference games.
The ‘over’ is 4-0 in UF’s past four neutral-site games.
Outback Bowl Predictions – Florida vs. Penn State Betting Picks
Penn State, of course, travels well, but the fans should be hugely in favor of the Gators, with Gainesville only about a 90-minute drive from Tampa. Frankly, I think this game ends in a ‘push,’ but I do think Florida wins to send Meyer out in style. I might recommend waiting to see if the line drops to 6.5. Both offenses have struggled at times this year so take the ‘under’.
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