Lane Kiffin talks about Ole Miss’ upcoming Peach Bowl matchup vs. Penn State
OXFORD, Miss. — Ole Miss and Penn State have been selected to play in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta on December 30th. Rebel head coach Lane Kiffin and Penn State head coach James Franklin met with media Sunday afternoon to talk about the matchup.
In Coach Kiffin’s opening statement, he offered his thoughts on having the opportunity to play the Nittany Lions in the Peach Bowl.
“We couldn’t be more excited to be part of this unbelievable matchup and play a great university and program like Penn State and Coach Franklin and all the success that he’s had there and the great players. We will be close to home for us to where a lot of our fans will go to a great stadium and view a great matchup. Obviously a lot of stuff going on today with playoff announcements and the bowl games and recruiting visits at the same time. So kind of in a whirlwind of things, but we couldn’t be more excited about this bowl game and this matchup and coming to Atlanta.”
For Coach Kiffin, this is the second time in three years at Ole Miss that his team will be participating in a New Year’s Six bowl game after playing in the Sugar Bowl in 2021. Due to an important recruiting weekend in Oxford, Kiffin said that he surprisingly found out where his Rebels were playing the same way the rest of America did.
“We did not have a watch party. We were actually just here working, recruiting. We had an official visit weekend here. I was really in recruiting meetings. This would probably surprise you guys, I found out on the TV like all you guys did. Obviously excited about that. Mentioned before what a great matchup it is and what a great stadium to play in in the city. So very excited but probably not what you thought. We were just continuing to work and had a lot of official visitors here and a lot of meetings to do.”
Lane Kiffin when asked if the Rebels had a watch party
As Coach Kiffin mentioned, now that the regular season is over, recruiting starts to become even more of a priority for all coaches in America. Furthermore, additional chaos will be brought to college football when the transfer portal opens up tomorrow, December 4th.
Kiffin talked about the difficulty of trying to recruit players while preparing for a NY6 game.
“It’s always been recruiting and bowl game, but now portal doesn’t just mean the guys you see going in the portal, it means your own guys and managing that. You’re basically managing your current roster, and you’re trying to manage your projected roster for next year at the same time,” Kiffin said.
As far as recruiting goes, however, it cannot hurt the Rebs are in yet another New Year’s Six bowl.
“I think it does matter. As I said, we’re in all day today and after this announcement in recruiting meetings with kids and families. That’s pretty neat to say, two of the last three years, to be in New Year’s Six bowls. Obviously we have a goal to do better this time around and finish off and have the first 11-win season in the history of the school. Any time your players are having success on the field and doing well helps you in recruiting.”
Kiffin was asked about today’s news that had the undefeated Florida State Seminoles left out of the college football playoffs.
“They had very hard decisions to make. I do feel for Florida State and their players for doing everything they were asked to do and not making it. That was really obviously the first time that’s ever happened. To be undefeated and for that to happen, I did feel for them. And Coach Norvell because they had an amazing season and overcame a lot to do what they did.”
Taking a look at the bowl game matchup, the Rebs will face a challenging Penn State team that finished ranked No. 10 in the CFP with its two losses coming to two of the top ten teams, Ohio State and Michigan. Highlighting the strongest part of this Penn State team is their defense, which has yet to play a game where they allowed more than 25 points.
The Nittany Lions are ranked No. 1 in total defense, only allowing their opponents’ offense to tally 223.2 yards per game. Penn State is also No. 3 in the nation in scoring defense, only giving up 11.42 points per game.
Where Penn State has struggled the most is on the offensive side of the ball, especially against their two biggest opponents, Ohio State and Michigan. In these matchups, quarterback Drew Allar threw for a combined 261 yards and two touchdowns. Soon after, the Nittany Lions fired offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich and hired Andy Koltelnicki, former Kansas offensive coordinator.
When discussing the recent hire, Coach Kiffin acknowledged he has not yet had much of a chance to delve into the coaching change.
“I’m glad (head coach) James (Franklin) went first there because I didn’t know much about the situation,” Kiffin explained. “I was hoping James would answer, so I would have my answer to that. It seems like we need to prepare a lot for the next two weeks.”
For the Rebels, Lane politely mentioned that because almost none of the Ole Miss players are projected to be selected in the first or second round of the NFL draft, he expects a majority of his players to play in the Peach Bowl and not opt out.
“I would expect that we don’t have any of (those). We’re kind of not in one of those years where we really have some first rounders that are coming out that are concerned about injuries and so forth. So I would not anticipate that (opt outs) happening with us.”
Lane Kiffin on not anticipating any opt outs
We will keep you posted on all the Peach Bowl news, and as mentioned above, the transfer portal opens tomorrow, so tune in to The Rebel Walk for all of your recruiting updates. Hotty Toddy!