The ACC and Big Ten match-up in the 2016 New Era Pinstripe Bowl with the Pittsburgh Panthers taking on the Northwestern Wildcats.
The Panthers had a fantastic season and finished at 8-4. Their good wins include two teams who will be playing in the New Year’s Six Bowl Games. In the beginning of the season they beat Penn State and at the end Clemson. Their only losses were defeats suffered to bowl eligible teams.
Quarterback Nathan Peterman had a great senior season for the Panthers. He lost his favorite receiver Tyler Boyd to the NFL, but still played well. Peterman threw for 2,602 passing yards, 26 touchdowns and only six interceptions. His 60% completion percentage isn’t efficient. In this game Peterman will need to protect the football and help move the chains, while not worrying about creating big plays.
Jester Welsh is the best receiver for the Broncos with 795 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. Peterman can spread the ball around, with 14 receivers having caught a pass (including him).
Running Back James Conner has been one of the best stories of the college football season. He has beaten cancer and recovered from a torn ACL. After all of that, hes still rushed for 1,060 yards and 16 touchdowns this season. He is a great power back and uses a stiff arm well to fend off would-be tacklers.
Pittsburgh’s run defense is why they have been so good this season. They allow just 109 rushing yards per game which ranks ninth in the nation. The problem is their pass defense is atrocious. They give up the second most passing yards in the country, 343 yards per game.
Ejuan Price has been one of the best pass rushers in the country with 12 sacks on the season. Jordan Hood has been a good help in the secondary with 46 solo tackles.
The Wildcats were thought to be a contender for the Big Ten West title, but ended up disappointing. They started at 0-2 which included a loss to FCS Illinois State. They bounced back to finish at 6-4. Their other losses were all to bowl eligible FBS teams. Northwestern had only one win over a bowl eligible team, which came when they defeated Iowa.
Clayton Thorson was one of the most improved players in all of college football this season. The quarterback threw 2,968 yards and 21 touchdowns, while only throwing eight interception. That’s not too bad for a quarterback that was supposed to be more of the running variety. He hasn’t added many rushing yards this season, but is still a danger on the ground.
Wide receiver Austin Carr was the best receiver in the Big Ten this season. He finished the season with 1,196 receiving yards and 12 receiving touchdowns. They don’t throw the ball down field a lot, but the Wildcats make the most of a lot of short throws.
Justin Jackson has had a fantastic season, rushing for 1,300 yards and 12 touchdowns. He averages 4.9 yards per carry, but has the capability to rip off long runs and change field position.
Giving up 137 rushing yards per game, the Wildcats are good at stopping the run. The pass defense has been awful allowing 265 yards per game.
Anthony Walker is the best player on the Northwestern defense. He finished the season with 93 total tackles, 10 tackles for loss, two sacks, three forced fumbles and an interception. Walker is also decent in coverage and will be playing on Sundays soon.
The Pitt run defense will shut down Jackson and Thorson in the run game. After they are shut down, Peterman will protect the football and Conner will chew the clock to get Pitt the win.
Pittsburgh Panthers 27 Northwestern Wildcats 17