Friday, December 29, 2006

BOWL PREVIEW: Outback Bowl

Any South Carolina fan has to have warm memories of the Outback Bowl. First, there was the 2001 edition, when the Gamecocks pretty much took control and routed Ohio State to cap off a magical season. Then there was the 2002 game, a glorious showdown clinched by a last-second field goal.

His name was Daniel Weaver. And he is a hero.

After that ... well, let's not talk about what happened after that, shall we?

The Holtz years post-Outback Bowls.

There is some conference pride at stake here. Because everyone other than the media, Jeff Sagarin and the Pac-10 who talk about who is the best conference in the country tend to boil it down to two: the SEC and the Big Ten. One could argue that anyone who watched a Big Ten football game (except for Ohio State-Michigan) could answer that question without looking at the SEC. ("If that's the best conference in America, football is officially dead.")

So now it's time to prove it.

Good luck, Tennessee. God doesn't hate orange on Jan. 1.

Bowl: Outback Bowl
Location: Tampa Bay
When: Jan. 1, 11 a.m. ET, ESPN
Purported reason for existence: To pair a Big Ten team with an SEC team
Real reason for existence: Just part of the race for CFB dominance
Teams: Tennessee vs. Penn State
Interest level: The Daily Show. Why would you miss it?
Key player for Tennessee: WR Robert Meachem. Maybe too obvious, but it's true. He's caught 67 for 1,265 yards and 11 TDs. If he gets going, JoePa might as well head for the men's room.
Key player for Penn State: The linebackers. Keeping up Penn State's rich tradition are Paul Posluszny, Dan Connor and Sean Lee. The three have a combined total of 294 tackles, 22.5 of those for loss. They've also rung up 12.5 sacks, three interceptions and six forced fumbles.
Winner: Tennessee. And no, it's not just conference pride. Penn State's offense is erratic, and it's hard for LBs to cover receivers like Meachem, which means Poslonnolee will not be the deciding factor.

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