2014 Pinstripe Bowl: Penn State Defense An Elite Bunch

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Oct 12, 2013; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions defensive end Anthony Zettel (98) during the second quarter against the Michigan Wolverines at Beaver Stadium. Penn State defeated Michigan 43-40 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O

Penn State Defense: Stat Analysis

The 34 points Penn State allowed to Michigan State in the final game of the regular season were the most they had allowed all year. Ohio State was the only other team to break 30 against the Lions, but it took them two overtimes to do it. Nobody else got to that plateau.

Now, granted, the other ten teams the Penn State defense faced were not exactly offensive juggernauts. Ohio State and Michigan State are top-ten offenses, but the rest were way down the list. In fact, the third-best offense they faced statistically was Maryland, 67th in FBS in scoring. It therefore stands to reason that the Nittany Lions owe some of their especially inflated defensive stats to playing bad offensive teams most of the season.

This is not to take it all away from them, as a team does not just luck into performances like that all season long, but a factor, yes.

Perhaps of note is that the Penn State defense gives up more points in the fourth quarter than any other by far. Finishing is a problem.

Penn State Defense: Names to Know

Grad linebacker Mike Hull leads the Lions by a mile in tackles with 134 this season. He also has 10.5 tackles for a loss and two sacks, plus an interception and a fumble recovery. It figures that his name will be spoken often on the broadcast.

Senior defensive tackle Anthony Zettel may only have 36 tackles up the middle, but he has 15 for a loss plus eight sacks, as well as three interceptions and a forced fumble/recovery. He will be one of the most dangerous players out there and a key figure in their pass rush. Expect senior defensive end Deion Barnes to also have his eye on Tyler Murphy, as he is second on the team with six sacks.

Hull and Zettel were recently named first-team All-Big Ten by the Big Ten Network.

Penn State Defense: Pinstripe Bowl Forecast

Yesterday, we said Boston College would have their hands full with the Penn State run defense. The opposite is also true, as only maybe twice this season they have faced a run game as good as the one the Eagles have. This is the key matchup of the game, and the team that gets the better of it will most likely win.

The Nittany Lions are more than capable of slowing Boston College down, though even at that, they still rush for triple-digit yardage in a game. Every first down they can prevent will be key as this is likely to be a low-scoring game.