Taxslayer Bowl 2016, Penn State vs Georgia preview, predictions, odds and live stream info

Georgia Bulldogs running back Sony Michel (1) runs for a touchdown against the Southern University Jaguars during the second half at Sanford Stadium. Georgia defeated Southern 48-6. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Georgia Bulldogs running back Sony Michel (1) runs for a touchdown against the Southern University Jaguars during the second half at Sanford Stadium. Georgia defeated Southern 48-6. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /

Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Georgia Bulldogs

The 2016 Taxslayer Bowl could feature a defensive slugfest when the Penn State Nittany Lions meet the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday afternoon at EverBank Field.

Penn State got off to a 7-2 start before dropping its final three games of the season against some of the better teams in the Big Ten. Without a signature win on the season, the Nittany Lions need a bowl victory to build momentum heading into a crucial year for head coach James Franklin.

Terrific pass rusher Carl Nassib will be back after missing two games due to injury to lead a strong Penn State defense that is finally healthy. The Nittany Lions struggled on the offensive end, but quarterback Christian Hackenberg will look for a big game before possibly heading off to the NFL Draft.

While Georgia was disappointing enough to fire head coach Mark Richt, it still managed to post a nine-win season. The Bulldogs are riding a four-game winning streak into bowl season, although they struggled down the stretch against Georgia Southern and Georgia Tech.

Linebacker Jake Ganus leads a defensive unit that was the primary reason Georgia was able to scratch out nine wins. Georgia’s offense has been without star running back Nick Chubb for the second half of the season, but backup Sony Michel is capable enough to move the ball on the ground.

The 2016 Taxslayer Bowl begins at Noon eastern on ESPN and can be streamed on the WatchESPN app. Further details for the game are below:

Date: Saturday, January 2, 2016

Start Time: Noon eastern

Location: Jacksonville, FL

Stadium: EverBank Field


Live Stream: WatchESPN

Radio: ESPN Radio, Sirius XM 80

Ticket information: For ticket info click here

Keys to Victory

Neither team was able to light up the scoreboard in the regular season and both relied on strong defenses to win. There will still be plenty of offensive talent on the field, but both teams have struggled to execute in recent weeks.

Penn State’s offensive line will be the most important key to the game. The Nittany Lions allowed 39 sacks in the regular season, one of the the worst marks in the nation, basically giving Hackenberg no chance to showcase his ability.

The Bulldogs have a ton of pass rushing options, as outside linebackers Leonard Floyd and Jordan Jenkins have pressured opposing quarterbacks all season. Unless Penn State gets much better on the offensive line, Hackenberg could be in for a long day.

If the Nittany Lions show improvement in the trenches, they’ll have a chance in this game. Outstanding freshman running back Saquon Barkley averaged over six yards per carry in the regular season, but can’t do everything himself.

Georgia will have some issues on the offensive line itself going against Nassib and Austin Johnson on the Penn State. However, Georgia’s offensive line was one of the better pass protection units in the regular season, which could free up Michel to run the ball.

One more big key will be how each team responds after losing a coach after the end of the regular season. Penn State fired embattled offensive coordinator John Donovan, while the Bulldogs will try to get motivated without Richt.

Betting Odds

Point Spread: Georgia -6.5

Moneyline: UGA -265, PSU +225

O/U: 42.5


Barkley can generate enough on the ground to keep Penn State competitive, but the Nittany Lions face too tall of a task to overcome the Georgia defense given how they’ve played so far.

Nothing Penn State has done this season indicates they can find productivity against good defenses. Georgia has a few edge rushing weapons that will take advantage of the porous Nittany Lion offensive line.

Pressure on Hackenberg will inevitably lead to some mistakes, and the turnover battle will be huge in such a low-scoring game. Dominick Sanders is an excellent playmaker in the secondary for the Bulldogs who can make a difference.

Georgia will have trouble offensively as well, particularly in the passing game against a very good Penn State secondary. The Bulldogs’ offensive line will make the difference, as Michel will be able to grind out enough points for a victory.

Final Score: Georgia 21, Penn State 14