One of the best weekends of college football season has arrived, with the New Year’s Six bowl games underway between the country's top teams. Saturday’s bowl slate will open at 12:00 PM EST with the Peach Bowl in which the Ole Miss Rebels will take on the Penn State Nittany Lions.
Like most bowl games, a few key pieces will be missing for each team, but even with the opt-out, Penn State running back Kaytron Allen should still be able to post a solid stat line on the Rebels run defense.
Penn State has gone into the past few seasons with the potential of reaching the College Football Playoff, but their inability to get over the hump of beating Ohio State and Michigan has led to them playing in the wrong NY6 games. After finishing 10-2 again this season, the Nittany Lions ranked 7th in EPA margin, and their offense during their first season with Drew Allar averaged 34.8 points per game.
Next season, the Nittany Lions will have Andy Kotelnicki as their offensive coordinator, but for this weekend, they’ll have two co-offensive coordinators from within the program running the show. Allar and the two OCs will have just about their entire starting offense for the game, as they will only be without their big tackle, Olumuyiwa Fashunu, who declared for the draft.
While the Nittany Lions will have most of their offense, which was 27th in success rate, they will be missing two key pieces on defense along with their defensive coordinator, Manny Diaz. Both Chop Robinson and Johnny Dixon have opted out of the game, which does hurt PSU quite a bit since both players were big factors in the team ranking 3rd in points and 1st in yards allowed per game this season.
Not having to deal with Robinson or Dixon is good news for Lane Kiffin and his dynamic offense. The uptempo Rebels offense behind quarterback Jaxson Dart averaged 436.4 yards per game and ranked 22nd in EPA this season. Ole Miss should have their entire starting offense on the field for the game, including Quinshon Judkins, who put up 1,052 rush yards and 15 touchdowns this season.
The lone opt-out for the Rebels will be EDGE rusher Cedric Johnson, and while only missing one player is a positive, the Rebels need all the help they can get since they were 60th in defensive success rate.
The Drew Allar era at Penn State got off to a decent start, but at the end of the day, the Nittany Lions want to rely on their strong running back tandem. With that, I think Kaytron Allen will be going over his rushing yards total of 67.5 yards on most Mississippi mobile sports betting apps. Despite having one less attempt than Nick Singleton this season, Allen has 149 more rush yards and is averaging one more full yard per carry.
Over the last ten games of the season, Allen saw an average of 13.3 rush attempts per game, and with that, he averaged 69.7 yards. Not only did Allen exceed 67 yards in seven of his last ten games against tough Big Ten defenses, but he gets to play an Ole Miss defense this weekend that struggled to limit the run. Even with edge rusher Cedric Johnson playing, the Rebels ranked 92nd in defensive success rate on run plays.
Opponents averaged 157.3 rush yards per game on the Ole Miss defense, and in two of the three games they played against ranked teams this year, they allowed at least 223 rushing yards. Not having Fashunu to run behind is certainly not ideal for Allen. However, the Nittany Lions still have a strong offensive line they can rely on, so with Allen averaging 5.3 yards per carry, I think he can rack up yards against the Rebels.
Kaytron Allen Over 67.5 Rush Yards (-114) on FanDuel
*odds subject to change