Bowl Predictions: Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Houston Cougars

No. 22 Penn State Nittany Lions vs. No. 19 Houston Cougars
Monday, 1/2/11, 12:00 PM EST, TV:  ESPNU
Opening Point Spread:  Houston -7
Current Betting Line:  Houston -7
Opening Total:  57.5
Current Total:  56.5
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

UTEP Vs Houston Cougars Betting Preview
Houston Cougars QB Case Keenum hasn't had much success in three previous bowl appearances

Penn State is set to meet up with Houston in one of the most intriguing match-ups of the postseason due to happenings off the field more than on it.  The Nittany Lions will be participating in their 44th bowl game in the TicketCity Bowl in historic Cotton Bowl Stadium.  All the talk around this program since November has been centered around the scandal involving former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky that led to the firing of longtime head coach Joe Paterno.  Penn State is 9-6 ATS in bowl games since the 1993 season.

The Nittany Lions were co-champions of the Big Ten Leaders Division with a 6-2 record, but didn’t earn a trip to the Rose Bowl due to a straight-up loss to the Wisconsin Badgers.  Penn State will likely be without starting quarterback Matt McGloin, who’s listed as doubtful with a head injury, which was actually suffered in a locker room fight.  Running back Silas Redd will need to win this game on the offensive end, but he wore down at the tail end of the season, averaging just 11.7 carries over the final three games.

Houston lost out on its chance of reaching a potential BCS bowl in dropping a 49-28 decision to the Southern Miss Golden Eagles as 12-point home favorites in the Conference USA championship.  “It was in our grasp,” commented Cougars quarterback  Case Keenum.  He will definitely be the most talked about player in this contest, setting basically every career passing mark in major college football.  It’s important to note that Kevin Sumlin will not be on the sidelines Monday afternoon due to accepting Texas A&M’s coaching job.  Houston is 4-9 ATS when playing against a team with a winning record.

The Cougars have been preparing for their final game of the 2011-12 season under interim head coach Tony Levine.  Keenum will definitely need to up his performance in his final bowl game, throwing three touchdown passes and seven interceptions in this first three postseason appearances.  He’ll also be facing a strong Nittany Lions secondary, ranking fifth nationally in giving up just 162.2 passing yards per game.

Bettors will likely back the Cougars due to their 7-1 ATS mark as a favorite, while the Nittany Lions are 0-5 ATS versus non-conference opponents.

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