Three Citrus Bowl Matchups To Watch
There will be plenty of interesting individual matchups between Penn State and Kentucky during Tuesday’s Citrus Bowl, but three stand out above the rest in terms of entertainment value.
Trace McSorley vs. Josh Allen
After dealing with a banged up knee during the middle of the season, McSorley is seemingly back at full health for the Nittany Lions heading into his final college game. Allen won the Bednarik Award and the Nagurski Trophy this season and has a chance to be a top five pick in April’s NFL draft.
Kentucky’s Mark Stoops discussed his impression of McSorley Monday morning during the coaches’ press conference. “Everything runs through him,” Stoops said. “He wants the team on his back. You could just see it with the way he plays with the attitude, the toughness, and makes plays across the board, so just an awful lot of respect for him.”
Allen leads Kentucky’s defense with 84 tackles, 14 sacks, and five forced fumbles this season from his spot as a 3-4 outside linebacker. James Franklin said limiting Allen’s impact, however hard that may be, is a point of emphasis for Penn State’s offensive line.
“They scheme really well to put him in position to make plays, which is obviously what you need to do, and he’s able to impact the game in a lot of different ways, whether it’s sacks, whether it’s tackles for loss, whether it’s coverage,” Franklin said. “So it’s impressive, it really is.”
Amani Oruwariye vs. Lynn Bowden Jr.
Franklin and the Nittany Lions recruited Bowden coming out of high school, but Stoops’ close ties to Ohio helped secure his verbal commitment to Kentucky. Bowden led the Wildcats with 57 catches for 644 yards and five touchdowns as a sophomore, meaning he’ll likely draw significant attention from Oruwariye throughout the game.
Oruwariye is Penn State’s active leader in career interceptions with eight heading into Tuesday’s contest at Camping World Stadium. Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports recently projected Oruwariye to go No. 9 overall to his hometown Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“Bowden’s explosive,” Oruwariye said. “He’s a guy who pops out on film. He’s dangerous with the ball in his hands, so we’ve definitely got to look out for him and account for him.”
Micah Parsons vs. Benny Snell Jr.
Although he only made one start as a true freshman, Parsons led Penn State’s defense with 69 tackles this season, showcasing his supreme range at outside linebacker. Parsons will be tasked with containing Snell on the edge and making sure the All-SEC running back doesn’t gash the Nittany Lions too often.
Snell has tallied 1,410 all-purpose yards and 14 touchdowns this season, recording his best performance against former Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead and Mississippi State. Snell scored all four of Kentucky’s touchdowns in a 28-7 win over the Bulldogs on September 22 in Lexington.
“The fact that Micah led our defense in tackles and only started one game tells the tale,” defensive coordinator Brent Pry said. “He’s a young man who had never played linebacker, but he worked hard to learn it, played hard, and didn’t allow things to slow him down.”
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