Penn State’s pass defense will be put to the test in a big way in this season’s TicketCity Bowl. The Houston Cougars have the nation’s top air game and will look to wear down Penn State’s secondary from start to finish. Here is a look at both teams’ pass offenses and pass defenses and how they stack up against each other.
Houston Offense: 443.8 ypg (1st)
Penn State Defense: 162.2 ypg (5th)
Houston quarterback Case Keenum passed for 45 touchdowns and was intercepted just five times this season. He also had four games with 400+ passing yards (including one 500-yard performance) and his season low for passing yards in a game was 304 yards, against East Carolina. Keenum passed for a touchdown in each game this season, throwing for multiple touchdowns in all but one game (SMU) and throwing for at least three touchdowns in seven games.
Penn State has allowed just nine passing touchdowns this season, the third fewest in the NCAA and their 14 interceptions is good for eighth most in the nation. Opposing quarterbacks have a combined quarterback rating of 100.05, fifth worst in the nation, against the Nittany Lions this season. Only two touchdowns passes were completed by non-conference opponents (Indiana State, Alabama).
Penn State has allowed five passing touchdowns in a bowl game dating back to the 2007 season. Four of those were thrown by USC in the 2009 Rose Bowl (Mark Sanchez). LSU, Florida and Texas A&M combined for one touchdown in Penn State’s most recent bowl games.
Penn State Offense: 180.3 ypg (96th)
Houston Defense: 214.2 ypg allowed (48th)
Penn State’s quarterbacks have combined for just nine touchdowns this season, and have been intercepted nine times. No team from an AQ conference has fewer passing touchdowns than Penn State (Mississippi is tied with nine), and only Florida Atlantic, New Mexico and Amy have fewer passing touchdowns this season. Penn State has just one passing touchdown since October 22’s two-touchdown performance against Northwestern.
Houston’s opposing quarterbacks have thrown for 18 touchdowns and the Cougars have intercepted passes as many times. Houston has recorded at least one interception in each of their last seven games. Opposing quarterbacks have a combined quarterback rating of 115.02, and Southern Mississippi became the first team to pass for four touchdowns against Houston this season in the Conference USA Championship Game.
Houston has not allowed a passing touchdown in their last three bowl games, dating back to the 2007 season, which includes two games against Air Force, a run-heavy offensive team. Penn State has passed for one touchdown in three of their last four bowl games, and had two touchdown passes in the 2009 Rose Bowl against USC. Matt McGloin was intercepted five times in last season’s Outback Bowl loss to Florida.
Stats provided by cfbstats.com.
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