LSU is ranked higher in the BCS at 12 (PSU is 13), but the Tigers have 3 losses: 13-3 vs Florida (BCS #5), 24-15 vs Bama (BCS #1) and 25-23 against Ole Miss (not in the BCS top 25.)
With the Mississippi game notwithstanding, the two teams appear pretty even.
But looking at the NCAA stats for PSU and LSU:
|Passes Had Intercepted||41||22|
|Pass Efficiency Defense||14||18|
|Fewest Penalties Per Game||7||68|
|Fewest Yards Penalized Per Game||3||36|
|Punt Return Yardage Defense||116||9|
|Kickoff Return Yardage Defense||62||3|
|Offense Third-down Efficiency||7||61|
|Offense Fourth-down Efficiency||56||111|
|Defense Third-down Efficiency||14||44|
|Defense Fourth-down Efficiency||10||72|
|Tackles for Loss||6||43|
|Offense Tackles for Loss||8||82|
|Pass Sacks Allowed||27||107|
|Time of Possession||13||103|
|First Downs Allowed||7||60|
|Red Zone Efficiency||25||25|
|Red Zone Efficiency - Defense||1||28|
|Average NCAA Rank:||34.73||53.22|
|Weighted Avg. Rank:||31.92||48.17|
Both teams struggle in kick-off returns, but LSU has a distinctive edge in punting and this could be key. Penn State lost the Iowa game on a special teams play that turned things around, and the poor field position against the Buckeyes was in large part to special teams problems and a tough Buckeye defense. I don't expect the LSU defense to be any softer.
LSU's offense appears to be a weakness for them, but they have faced some tough defenses in Florida and Bama. I'm not going to get into that argument of which conference is better or stronger. I think both the Big Ten and the SEC can hold their own--at least the teams at the top, and LSU and PSU fit into that category.
Hopefully, PSU will have spent some time looking at special teams this last month and some changes will have been made. Penn State cannot afford to give up field position on punts or worse yet, points on returns. Defensively, I don't think LSU will move the ball consistently. Offensively, Penn State goes as Daryll Clark goes. If the LSU defense rattles him, I look for a long, frustrating afternoon.
My heart says PSU will prevail. The stats seem to indicate we have the overall better team. But I fear the problems we have seen all season will still be there and will come back to haunt us. I hope that I am wrong.