Here's an early look at the TaxSlayer Bowl matchup between Georgia and Penn State:
Storyline to watch: Can the Bulldogs bounce back from not just a disappointing 2015 season but the loss of longtime successful coach Mark Richt? All of a sudden, this final game takes on new meaning for a team under the direction of interim head coach Bryan McClendon. Players not only have to get up to end the season on the right note, but this is also the first tryout for incoming coach Kirby Smart, who will join the team after Alabama’s playoff run ends.
Best individual matchup: Penn State DE Carl Nassib vs. Georgia LT Isaiah Wynn: After starting the final four games of the season at left tackle, Wynn gets the prize of having to take on one of the nation’s best defensive linemen. Nassib has been tremendous this season, leading the nation with 15.5 sacks and ranking second nationally with 19.5 tackles for loss. He also grabbed an interception and has forced six fumbles. If Georgia’s offense is going to move, it needs Nassib to stay away from the backfield. Good luck, Isaiah.
Key question for Georgia: What’s going to happen with Georgia’s passing game? It hasn’t been great for most of the season, and now it must face a Penn State defense that is allowing just 174.5 passing yards per game, recorded 44 sacks and snagged 10 interceptions. Starter Greyson Lambert has had a rough season with the Bulldogs. He threw just two interceptions, but passed for more than 200 yards only three times all season and averaged 164.3 yards in SEC play.
Georgia will win if: The Bulldogs defense has what it takes to beat this Penn State offense. The Nittany Lions have allowed a Big Ten-high 39 sacks and turned the ball over 17 times. Quarterback Christian Hackenburg has had his ups and downs and Georgia’s aggressive defense, which combined for 42 sacks and takeaways on the season, could make his day miserable. Offensively, running back Sony Michel has to get going in order to open up the pass.