Gameday breakdown: Boston College Eagles (7-5, 4-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) vs. Penn State Nittany Lions (6-6, 2-6 Big Ten)
WHEN: 4:30 p.m., Saturday
WHERE: Yankee Stadium; Bronx, N.Y.
SERIES: Penn State leads, 19-4
LAST MEETING: Boston College won 21-7 in 2004.
COACHES: Boston College — Steve Addazio, 2nd season, 14-11 (27-22, 4th overall); Penn State — James Franklin, first season, 6-6 (30-21, 4th overall)
TELEVISION: ESPN (commentators: Bob Wischusen, Matt Millen, Quint Kessenich)
RADIO: WQWK 1450, WBUS 93.7 (announcers: Steve Jones, Jack Ham, Loren Crispell); Satellite: Sirius channel 83, XM channel 83
TIPS TO WIN:
For Penn State — Get up the field in chunks. Although the Eagles field a solid defense, they’ve been susceptible to big plays at times. They’ve allowed 42 plays of 20 yards or more and 16 plays of 30 yards or more. A few big pass plays could help Penn State immensely as Boston College will be have to think twice about crowding the line to stop the run.
For Boston College — Lean on the big guys. Boston College is loaded up front with five fifth-year seniors who have paved the way for a Top 15 rushing attack. They’ll be going against the top rushing defense in the country. If the Eagles can have success moving the ball on the ground early, it will go a long way in wearing Penn State down.
BOSTON COLLEGE PLAYER TO WATCH: Tyler Murphy is the easiest choice. The quarterback leads his team with 2,605 yards, including 1,079 of them on the ground. He’s not only the Eagles’ triggerman, he’s also their top running threat. He also has 21 touchdowns on the season.
PENN STATE PLAYER TO WATCH: Mike Hull was voted Penn State’s Most Valuable Player by his coaches and teammates at Penn State’s banquet a few weeks ago. He had a monster season, as evidenced by his 134 tackles leading one of the country’s best defenses. Hull will likely return to his spot on the outside if Brandon Bell or Jason Cabinda return to the lineup, meaning more blitzing time for Hull and potentially more havoc in the Boston College backfield.
KEY MATCHUP: How much progress has Penn State’s offensive line made with the 15 practices since the regular season finale? Penn State coaches and fans will see the results against a pretty good defensive front. Boston College’s starters have combined for 27 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks this season. If the Nittany Lions can’t protect quarterback Christian Hackenberg — who was sacked 43 times in the regular season — Penn State will struggle to move the ball.