NittanyCentral is home for the latest Penn State Football, Penn State Wrestling, Penn State Basketball news, updates, and analysis of the Penn State Nittany Lions

NittanyCentral is home for the latest Penn State Football, Penn State Wrestling, Penn State Basketball news, updates, and analysis of the Penn State Nittany Lions

NittanyCentral is home for the latest Penn State Football, Penn State Wrestling, Penn State Basketball news, updates, and analysis of the Penn State Nittany Lions

The latest news, insight, and analysis of Penn State Football, Penn State Wrestling, and Penn State Basketball, including schedules, game results, analysis of breaking news, rumors, speculation, and recruiting coverage of future Penn State Nittany Lions

NittanyCentral is home to the latest Penn State Nittany Lions news, updates, insight, and analysis, including in-depth coverage of Penn State Football, Penn State Wrestling, Penn State Basketball, and much more

2023 Peach Bowl: Penn State Football Must Win These 3 Key Matchups vs. Ole Miss

Penn State Football and Ole Miss head to the Peach Bowl coming off of very similar seasons.

Both teams lost the two biggest games on their schedule, but otherwise took care of business to reach double digit regular season wins and a New Year’s Six Bowl.

Stakes are equally high for both teams in the Peach Bowl as well, as Penn State can become the first team in the country to win all six New Year’s Six Bowls and Ole Miss has a chance to record 11 wins in a season for the first time in Rebels’ history.

If Penn State Football wants to finish with 11 wins for the second season in a row and the fifth time under head coach James Franklin since 2016, here are three key matchups Penn State must win:

Penn State Football Key Matchups in Peach Bowl

Penn State cornerbacks vs. Ole Miss receivers

Penn State Football got a boost this week as Kalen King was seen on the practice field in Atlanta ahead of the Peach Bowl, participating in practice with the Nittany Lions.

Seen as a first-round pick by some outlets, King was a candidate to opt out of the bowl game, which did not ultimately happen.

Keeping King and Hardy on the field for Penn State (even with potentially limited playing time) gives Penn State a boost against a dangerous Ole Miss passing attack. This season, Ole Miss had three receivers catch over 45 passes and account for over 700 yards.

The Rebels’ leading receiver Tre Harris accounted for 851 yards and eight touchdowns, averaging 18.1 yards per reception. Penn State’s secondary was excellent this season, but in order for Penn State to come home from Atlanta with a win, the Nittany Lions secondary will have to once again standout to stop the Ole Miss passing attack.

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Penn State running game vs. Ole Miss rush defense

Penn State Football played its best offensive football of the season when the running game was working.

Although their numbers were down on the year from 2022, both Kaytron Allen and Nick Singleton accounted for 1553 yards and 14 touchdowns, averaging 4.7 yards per attempt. Having a viable rushing attack puts less pressure on Drew Allar and can open space up for the receivers in the passing game, something the receivers have not been capable of doing on their own for much of the season.

Ole Miss’ defense ranks 71st in the nation this season in run defense, averaging 3.9 yards per rush and 151.9 rushing yards per game against. While this would seem to be a huge mismatch against Penn State’s rushing attack, Penn State has struggled this season against even poor rushing defenses.

Earlier this season, the Nittany Lions rushed for only 3.1 yards per carry for 132 yards against an Indiana defense that ranked 78th this season in run defense.

Penn State Football must take advantage of Ole Miss’ poor rush defense early to get Singleton and Allen comfortable and protect Allar in the passing game.

Turnover battle

Both Ole Miss and Penn State Football have fantastic turnover margins this season, ranking in the top 12 in the nation.

Penn State leads the nation in turnover margin at +18, while Ole Miss is ranks 12th with +9. Both teams have been excellent at not giving up the ball, with Penn State only turning the ball over 6 times this season (2nd in the nation) and Ole Miss only turning the ball over 7 times (tied for 3rd in the nation).

With both teams tremendous at holding onto the ball, one key turnover could swing the game in a team’s favor in the Peach Bowl.

The Peach Bowl should be an exciting matchup between two teams just below the tier playing for a conference championship and college football playoff slot.

The game will be a preview of two potential playoff teams for 2024 when the playoff shifts to the 12 team format with both teams returning a lot of talent for 2024 runs.

If Penn State can win these three key matchups, the Nittany Lions can secure its position as the only team in college football history to win all six New Year’s 6 Bowl games and enter 2024 on a high with playoff aspirations in the new format.

MORE: Penn State Must Shut Down These Ole Miss Players in Peach Bowl


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