The Penn State Nittany Lions (6-6, 5-6-1 ATS) will take on the Boston College Eagles (7-5, 8-4 ATS) in the 2014 New Era Pinstripe Bowl. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:30 EST Saturday, December 27 at Yankee Stadium and will be televised on ESPN. Oddsmakers currently have the Eagles listed as a 2.5-point favorite with the total set at 40 points.

Boston College continued to trend in the right direction under second-year head coach Steve Addazio. Despite only returning 9 starters (3 offense), the Eagles were able to match last year’s 4-4 mark inside the ACC. Boston College will now be looking for their first bowl win under Addazio, as they got embarrassed last year 19-42 by Arizona in the AdvoCare V100 Bowl.

The Nittany Lions didn’t have the kind of success many where hoping for in the first year under former Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin. Penn State went just 2-6 inside Big Ten Play. Only Indiana and Purdue finished with a worse conference mark. The Nittany Lions weren’t suppose to be eligible for a bowl this year, but the sanctions from the Sandusky scandal were lifted in September. This will be Penn State’s first bowl game since losing 14-30 to Houston in the 2011 TicketCity Bowl.

Early Free NCAAF Pick: Boston College -2.5

I like the Eagles laying less than a field goal here against the Nittany Lions. Getting back to a bowl game is a big deal for Penn State, but I think they will be outmatched when they take the field in this one. The Nittany Lions closed out the season going just 2-6 over their last 8 games and those two victories came against Indiana and Temple. The Hoosiers were a complete mess down the stretch after losing starting quarterback Nate Sudfield and Temple went just 4-4 in the weak American Athletic.

Boston College was strong throughout the regular season, as they only loss consecutive games once and that was against the likes of Louisville and Florida State. It’s also worth noting that the Eagles weren’t far from a double-digit win regular season, as 4 of their 5 losses came by 10-points or less, including a heartbreaking 17-20 defeat at Florida State. One of things that really impressed me with this team is how they responded with a 28-7 win over Syracuse just one week after that crushing loss to the Seminoles. Addazio is one of the most underrated coaches in the country and will have his troops in prime form after their poor showing in last year’s bowl game.

Both of these teams relied heavily on their defense this season. Penn State finished 8th in the country in scoring defense (17.7 ppg) and 2nd in total defense (269.8 ypg). Boston College was slightly worse, but not by much. The Eagles were 19th in scoring defense (20.5 ppg) and 12th in total defense (313.5 ypg).

Penn State is just 10-25 ATS in their last 35 road games against strong run defenses that are giving up 3.25 or less yards/carry and have lost these contests by an average of 6.3 ppg.

This game is going to come down to which offense can make the most plays and I think that edge has to go to Boston College. The Eagles come in with the 15th ranked rushing attack in the country (251.8 ypg). While Penn State gave up the fewest rushing yards in the country, they allowed 219 yards to Ohio State, 153 to Indiana and 118 to Michigan State. As for the Nittany Lion offense, they are going to struggle to do anything. Penn State averaged a mere 19.8 ppg (115th) and 325.5 ypg (116th).

The Nittany Lions are 0-8 ATS in their last 8 road games when they come in having won at least 4 of their last 6 games and are just 1-10 ATS in their last 11 after playing their last game at home. Penn State is also just 10-25 ATS in their last 35 road games against strong run defenses that are giving up 3.25 or less yards/carry and have lost these contests by an average of 6.3 ppg.

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