TicketCity Bowl Open Thread | #19 Houston vs #22 Penn State


12-1 (8-1)
C-USA West Champions

TicketCity Bowl
Cotton Bowl Stadium
Dallas, TX
11:00am CST
TV: ESPNU


9-3 (6-2)
2nd Big Ten Leaders

Bowl games for breakfast gets weird this year since heaven forbid the NFL have to compete with college bowl games and get completely shown up in the ratings with the traditional New Year's Day football feast coming on Monday, January 2nd, when plenty of y'all are sitting at work desperately trying to look busy while keeping track of the scores on your phones or gametracker. Anyway, first up we have "The Bowl Game in The Cotton Bowl That Is Not, In Fact, The Cotton Bowl," better known as the inaugural TicketCity Bowl. Houston and Penn State square off with a desire to finish off the season on a positive note, but for very different reasons. I don't think we need to rehash the scandals that have plagued Penn State this season, but needless to say a bowl win would certainly provide at least a few hours of blessed comfort to Nittany Lion fans, while Houston squandered a possible BCS bid and undefeated season in the Conference USA championship game, giving 652nd year senior Case Keenum one last chance to post a bunch of ridiculous numbers before spending the next few months preparing for the NFL draft by being constantly called a "system QB with no future in the NFL" by Todd McShay.

Of course, Keenum hasn't exactly been Mr. Postseason in his time at Houston. In three bowl games, Keenum has three TD passes to seven interceptions, including the six pick meltdown in the 47-20 loss to Air Force in the 2009 Armed Forces Bowl. Further, in this year's CUSA Championship Game he struggled against a Southern Miss pass defense ranked 70th in the country. Given that Penn State is fifth in the nation against the pass (162.2 yards allowed per game) with the nine TDs it gave up through the air are tied for the fifth-fewest, there's a good shot Keenum's bowl struggles will continue.

With every other issue facing Penn State, a completely bizarre QB situation is a relatively benign drop in the bucket:

Just when it seemed things couldn't get any stranger, quarterback Matt McGloin suffered a seizure and possible concussion after getting into a fracas with wide receiver Curtis Drake following the Nittany Lions' Dec. 17 practice. It's unclear if McGloin will be medically cleared to face the Cougars.

Backup Rob Bolden, meanwhile, was cited for stealing a $2 bottle of Gatorade from a campus dining hall that same weekend. The incident won't affect his playing time, according to Bradley.

Penn State's quarterback issues, however, could open the door for Paul Jones to make his collegiate debut. A highly touted recruit two years ago, Jones redshirted in 2010 and was academically ineligible for the fall semester.

Both teams lost their head coaches during the season, again for very different reasons. Houston's Kevin Sumlin accepted the Texas A&M job and will not coach the Cougars. Instead, this game will be the debut of newly promoted assistant coach Tony Levine as Houston's head man. Penn State will be led by defensive coordinator Tom Bradley, though he is not considered a candidate to take over the program after the season.

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