On Monday the first official college football game of 2012 will be played at Cotton Bowl stadium in Dallas, TX. This year’s matchup is between the Penn State Nitney Lions and the Houston Cougars. Both teams are ranked in the top 25 and this is one of four non-BCS bowl games that will pit two top 25 teams against one another.
This is the first trip to this bowl for both of these teams, but these teams have met a few times before. The last meeting was in 1977 in State College, PA. Penn State is 2-0 against the Houston Cougars and this will be the first time these two teams have met in a post season contest. Also, this will be the first time they have ever played on a neutral site. Their past matchups have been home and home. Houston is making its 21st Bowl trip in school history and looking to snap a skid of only one bowl win since 1980. This team is a class act who won 12 games in the regular season creating a school record. The Cougars are hoping to change its sordid bowl history and also its history against Penn State in one big swoop. However Penn State has quite a history itself and will be a formidable opponent.
Unlike Houston, Penn State is used to its January Bowl games and they are making their fourth straight trip to a January Bowl. This will be their sixth bowl appearance in seven years, while Houston is only making its sixth in school history. Penn State is a school with a lot of football history and is ranked 5th in the NCAA with all time victories. This matchup could almost be a “David vs. Goliath” type matchup.
Either way you slice it; this should be a fun game with lots of twist and turns. Houston has a very fast paced offense ready to put points on the board in a hurry. Penn State is a team with size and skill; it will come down to attrition to decide this matchup. Can Houston wear down the Penn State defenders and get a step up late, or will Penn State lean on the Houston players and make them start dragging late?
This is a great matchup to start off the New Year, and I am honored to be covering it from the press box.