Pinstripe Bowl breakdown: Penn State-Boston College

Pinstripe Bowl breakdown: Penn State-Boston College

Published Dec. 17, 2014 12:00 p.m. ET

Penn State rushing defense vs. BC rushing attack

Penn State (top-ranked rush defense -- 84.8 yards allowed per outing) was one of only seven vaunted programs to keep opponents under the triple-digit, typically easy-to-attain threshold of 100 rushing yards per game -- along with Alabama, Lousiville, Michigan State, UCF, Clemson and Boston College.

BC, in turn, ranked 14th nationally in rushing yards gained (252 YPG) -- highlighted by an absurd tally of 452 rushing yards against then-No. 9 USC on Sept. 13, with the Eagles pulling off a 37-31 upset.

The BC rushing attack begins and ends with QB Tyler Murphy, a one-time Florida signee who produced 1,079 rushing yards (team-high) and 21 total touchdowns in his first season as the Eagles' starter.


Among tailbacks, Jon Hilliman (712 yards, 12 TDs) stands as Boston College's most prolific rusher, although there are two deflating trends of note:

1) The freshman averaged only 35 rushing yards in his final four outings.

LB Mike Hull, Penn State

The senior Hull (an All-Big Ten selection) is a non-stop ball of energy, intensity and versatile playmaking on the field. If Penn State ends up pulling off a surprise here ... Hull and D-tackle Anthony Zettel (at least one sack in his final four games) must force at least two BC turnovers.

QB Tyler Murphy, BC

Murphy wasn't the most prolific passer in Year 1, but he was among the rare breed of college quarterbacks to amass 1,000 yards passing/1,000 yards rushing this season. As part of that, Murphy tallied multiple touchdowns seven times.

QB Christian Hackenberg, Penn State

Prior to the season, the strong-armed Hackenberg (6-foot-4, 234 pounds) was viewed as a consensus top-5 pick for the 2016 NFL Draft.

But after a desultory sophomore campaign of 2,606 yards passing and eight TDs, it's fair to wonder if Hackenberg -- the biggest recruit of the Bill O'Brien era (20 TDs as a true freshman) -- represents a good fit in James Franklin's offensive system.

0: The number of seasonal games in which Boston College's Murphy passed for 200-plus yards.

1: The number of seasonal games in which Hackenberg registered multiple touchdowns (vs. Akron on Sept. 6).

13.3: The winning teams' average point differential for the inaugural four Pinstripe Bowls.

On the flip side, Boston College (7-5, 4-4 in ACC) was a simple break or two away from upending three ranked foes -- Clemson, Florida State, USC -- before losing to the Tigers and Seminoles by seven combined points.

Of the northern cities hosting bowl games, this might be the most attractive matchup of the lot -- in terms of two prestige programs being relatively close to a landmark venue (Yankee Stadium) and signature locale (New York City). Within that scope, neither squad has an intangible edge. Might as well go with the better team here.