Posted by Tom Fornelli
The Basics: Florida (7-5) vs. Penn State (7-5), Jan.1, 1pm ET
Why You Should Watch: Well, first of all, you should watch this game because it'll be starting around the same time you're finally waking up out of your New Year's Eve haze. Nothing like some football to help you shake the cobwebs out of your brain. Oh, and it's also the final time you will have a chance to see Urban Meyer nearly suffer a heart attack on a Florida sideline. Not to mention, depending on who you want to believe, it could also be the final time that Joe Paterno ever graces a sideline.
Keys to Victory for Florida: You could question how Florida will approach this game given everything that's gone on in Gainesville over the last month, but I don't think motivation is going to be a problem. There's no way these Gators want to send Urban Meyer out with a loss. To do this, well, the Gators will have do so something they haven't done all season.
Find some consistency on offense. Whether it's John Brantley through the air, or Trey Burton on the ground, whoever is at quarterback for Florida is going to have to make some plays against this Penn State defense. That means the Gators offensive line, which has been pretty disappointing this year, is going to need to step up the protection. When Brantley is back there he tends to make dumb decisions when facing pressure and has a hard time reading coverage.
The best way to help Brantley would be to get the ground game going with Mike Gillislee, Emmanuel Moody, Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey. Penn State has had some problems with the run this season, and the Gators should watch the game film of the Penn State game against Illinois and copy Illinois' game plan. Maybe Ron Zook can finally win a bowl game for Florida after all these years.
Keys to Victory for Penn State: Florida is faster and more athletic than Penn State. The best way for Penn State to counter this will be to attack, attack and attack some more on defense. Blitz John Brantley like there is no tomorrow and force him to make decisions he's not ready to make. Also, as I mentioned earlier, the Nittany Lions need to tighten things up against the run.
When Penn State has the ball it should look to exploit the Gators a bit in the secondary. Yes, Evan Royster should still get plenty of carries to soften up the Florida defense, but the Gators don't have Janoris Jenkins in this game and he's not an easy player to replace. Now, the problem here is that as good as Matt McGloin has been, he's not very effective on deep routes. Which means that Penn State should look to attack Florida on shorter routes like slants and hitches.
Finally, it will be important for Royster and the offensive line to have move the ball against the Florida run defense. Royster had a couple of lackluster games against tough run defenses like Alabama and Ohio State this season, and for Penn State to have a legit chance in this game, he's going to have to produce.
The Outback Bowl is like: one of those Rolling Stones farewell concerts. You know that even though they claim it's the last time you'll ever see them performing, they're going to come back eventually. Yes, Urban Meyer may be leaving Florida to spend time with the family and tend to his health, but do you really believe a man that immersed in football is never coming back? I don't.