Clark leads PSU over LSU in Capital One Bowl

Senior quarterback Daryll Clark finally has a signature win on his collegiate resume.

Clark completed 18-of-35 pass attempts for 216 yards and a touchdown in Penn State’s 19-17 victory over LSU in the Capital One Bowl on Friday. Clark led the Nittany Lions on a 12-play, 65-yard drive that eclipsed 5:57 off the clock and ended with a 21-yard field goal by Collin Wagner to give PSU the lead with just under a minute left to play.

Wagner deserves a ton of credit for converting all four of his field goal attempts on a horrible playing surface. Both he, Clark and linebacker Sean Lee stepped up big-time when Penn State needed it most.

LSU mismanaged the clock in the final minute of the game, which cost them an opportunity to kick a game-winning field goal attempt. The situation was similar to the one in which they mismanaged the clock in a loss to Ole’ Miss earlier in the year, so Les Miles has some work to do with his team in that area heading into next season.

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2009 CFB Preview: Penn State Nittany Lions

Check out our other 2009 college football previews.

Preseason Ranking: No. 9 in AP Top 25; No. 8 in USA Today Poll.

Key Returning Players: Evan Royster (RB); Stephon Green (RB); Daryll Clark (QB); Mickey Shuler (TE); Dennis Landolt (OT); Stefen Wisniewski (G); Navorro Bowman (LB); Josh Hull (LB); Jared Odrick (DT); Ollie Ogbu (DT); Drew Astorino (S).

Key Losses: Deon Butler (WR); Aaron Maybin (DE); Jordan Norwood (WR); Derrick Williams (WR); Gerald Cadogan (OT); A.Q. Scirrotto (C); Tony Davis (CB); Lydell Sargeant (CB); Maurice Evans (DE); Josh Gaines (DE); Rich Ohrnberger (G); Mark Rubin (S); Tyrell Sales (LB).

Player to Watch: Navorro Bowman, LB.
Quarterback Daryll Clark and running back Evan Royster are just as deserving to be mentioned here, but Bowman is one of the best linebackers in the nation and arguably the best defender in the Big Ten. He made the most of his playing time opportunities last year after Dan Connor was drafted and Sean Lee was out with an injury. In his first start of the season, Bowman recorded 11 tackles, five tackles-for-loss, three sacks, a forced fumble and an interception in a 45-3 trouncing of Temple in Week 4. That performance lifted him to a fantastic ’08 campaign, one that was capped with him being named a consensus First Team All-Big Ten player. Now a redshirt junior, Bowman is looking to gain superstar status and get nationally recognized as one of the best linebackers in the country.

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2009 BCS Bowl Preview and Predictions

The 2009 BCS Bowl Season is quickly approaching – not that anyone should care.

I’m not trying to sound bitter, but if the BCS doesn’t care about any of its five bowl games outside of the national championship game, then why should we? All the BCS essentially cares about is figuring out who the top team teams are in college football – and they can’t even do that right.

But I digress. I’m not going to burn another 1,200 words on why college football needs a playoff because it’ll just fall upon deaf ears. Instead, I’ll get into the bowl season spirit and break down the five BCS bowls, as well as hand out predictions for each game.

Predictions are essentially meaningless, but they’re fun so make sure you throw out your picks in the comment section below.

Daryll ClarkRose Bowl: Penn State vs. USC
The Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California, January 1, 4:30PM ET ABC
Some college football pundits believe that this one will be over with by halftime, but if Penn State uses Oregon State’s victory over USC as a blueprint for success, the Nittany Lions could make this a tighter game than most expect. PSU tailback Evan Royster has been a playmaker this year and if the Lions can employ him the same way the Beavers’ used Jacquizz Rodgers to beat the Trojans earlier this season, then maybe they can exploit USC’s quick defense. Then again, the Trojans’ D is one of the fastest and most talented units in the country and it won’t be easy for PSU to spread the field on them like they did against Big Ten opponents this season. USC has the most talented linebacker corps in the country and their secondary features two safeties in Taylor Mays and Kevin Ellison that blanket the field in both coverage and run support. In order for the Lions to claim victory, quarterback Daryll Clark will have to play mistake free and not try to force action in the passing game. Offensively for USC, quarterback Mark Sanchez has been outstanding, but he will make mistakes. He threw at least one interception in seven games this year and if PSU’s defense can generate some pressure, they could force Sanchez into some turnovers and capitalize on some prime field position. But outside of getting pressure on Sanchez, Penn State needs to tackle well and limit the yards-after-catch opportunities that USC’s receivers thrive upon. Sounds basic enough, but the Trojans have one of the fastest offenses in the league and Sanchez has excelled at taking what defenses give him and in getting the ball into the hands of his playmakers. The Lions would be wise to get 11 defenders around the ball at all times, especially when USC tailback Stafon Johnson gets the opportunity to make plays.
Rose Bowl Prediction: USC 30, Penn State 17.

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Ready for another Big Ten team in the national championship?

Penn State-Ohio StateIt’s probably fair to say that most college football fans would rather pull off one their arms and beat themselves with it than see another Big Ten team play for a national championship. But that’s exactly what might happen after Penn State defeated Ohio State 13-6 (their first win in Columbus since 1978) on Saturday night.

Joe Paterno’s bunch has just one road game left on its schedule (at Iowa next Saturday), before wrapping up the 2008 season with home contests against Indiana and Michigan. And while the Hawkeyes are an improved team, there isn’t a whole lot standing in the Nittany Lions way of running the table and finishing the year undefeated.

Those who watched Saturday night probably didn’t come away too impressed with PSU, but don’t forget that the Buckeyes have one of the most experienced defenses in the country. They held tough runner Evan Royster under 100 yards and even though Daryll Clark completed 12 of 20 passes for 121 yards, OSU’s defense battered him all night. (He even had to come out for most of the fourth quarter after taking a legal hit to the head.)

This game came down to Terrelle Pryor’s fumble early in the fourth quarter that PSU eventually turned into a touchdown. On a 3rd and 1 from the 50-yard line, Pryor tried to make a big play by bouncing outside instead of rushing forward for what should have been an easy first down. He had the ball stripped and in the end, it was the key play that turned the game around in the Lions favor. Still, he’s only a freshman and he’s got an incredible future ahead of him because despite the loss and what ESPN’s Mark May said earlier in the season, Pryor is clearly ready for prime time.

Penn State might not stand a chance against the best in the Big 12 or SEC, but outside of a bad half against Michigan last week, they’ve soundly beat opponents all season. They’re not flashy, but they play hard and do the little things right. General college football fans might not want to see another Big Ten team play for a title, but they might not have a choice after Saturday night.

Week 9 College Football Primer

Top 25 vs. Top 25
Zac RobinsonNo. 6 Oklahoma State at No. 1 Texas, 3:30 PM ET ABC
Colt McCoy and the Longhorns are the talk of college football right now, and rightfully so with the way they destroyed Chase Daniel and Missouri last Saturday. But Zac Robinson and the Cowboys are playing as well as anyone right now and this is a huge opportunity for them to prove that they can hang with the big boys. Robinson is completing nearly 70% of his passes and has 14 touchdowns on the year to just four interceptions. But for OK State to pull off the upset, the Cowboy defense will have to be aggressive in getting after McCoy, who completed 29 of his 32 passes last week in the rout over MIZZOU. Mack Brown won’t let his team take their foot off the pedal, but this is UT’s third straight tough Big 12 matchup in as many weeks and the Cowboys won’t be any pushovers.

No. 3 Penn State at No. 9 Ohio State
The Nittany Lions are red hot and destroying everything in their path. The switch the spread offense has been a great success for PSU’s offense and QB Daryll Clark, who ranks 18th in the nation in pass efficiency. Clark will certainly have his work cut out for him this Saturday going against a veteran OSU defense, although the Lions can go toe-to-toe with anyone in the trenches. They also have protected Clark incredibly well this season, which has allowed for big plays in the passing game. For the Buckeyes offensively, frosh QB Terrelle Pryor is the real deal and really stepped up his game last week against Michigan State after struggling to make plays in previous weeks. PSU is allowing more than a half-yard less per carry than OSU’s stingy defense, so it might be tough sledding for Heisman candidate Beanie Wells. Either way, expect a battle at the “Horseshoe” this weekend in matchup of the best the Big Ten has to offer.

No. 7 Georgia at No. 13 LSU, 3:30 PM ET CBS
This is a huge game for UGA after clawing back into the top 10 last week. LSU is coming off a solid come-from-behind win over South Carolina last week and still has plenty to prove themselves after Florida ran roughshod over them two weeks ago. UGA’s inexperienced offensive line has been an issue at times this year, so QB Matthew Stafford must get the ball out of his hands quickly against a stout Tiger pass rush. And even though Heisman candidate Knowshon Moreno gets a lot more pub, LSU RB Charles Scott is rushing for over six yards a carry. The Tigers are a staggering 41-4 in Tiger Stadium since 2002, which doesn’t bode well for the road ‘Dogs.

Graham HarrellNo. 8 Texas Tech at No. 23 Kansas, 12:00 PM ESPN
The Red Raiders have flirted with disaster the past couple of weeks, even though Heisman candidate Graham Harrell continues to play beyond impressive. Still, Tech is off to its best start in 32 years and will get to test its mettle against the upper-echelon of Big 12 foes over the next four games. The Jayhawks, meanwhile, were drubbed by Oklahoma last week and just haven’t looked sharp in over a month. They have sorely missed Brandon McAnderson in the backfield, but they could be due for a game in which they put it all together. Could this be the prime upset of the weekend?

Upset Watch:
Michigan State at Michigan, 3:30 PM ET
The Wolverines have been absolutely brutal this year, but this is a game they win. The Spartans were crushed by Ohio State last week in a game that they were trying to use as a measuring stick to see how good they were. This is a huge letdown game for them and Rich Rodriguez is desperate not to lose to his in-state rival and save at least a little face in his first year at Big Blue.

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