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Who has the edge?

RUNNING GAME: At the start of the season, Penn State would clearly have had the advantage. The Nittany Lions love to run and commonly have the bruising backs to do so. But injuries to RB Cordell Mitchell (shoulder) and FB Aaron Harris (knee) have put a chink in the armor. Mitchell won't play today and Harris is still slowed by his knee brace. UK's Derek Homer and Anthony White combined for 1,207 yards but are likely to be used less frequently.

EDGE: Penn State.

PASSING GAME: Kentucky is here because of Tim Couch and its high-octane offense. The junior could be the first pick in the NFL draft if he leaves school early. Couch passed for 4,275 yards and 36 touchdowns. Penn State starting quarterback Kevin Thompson recorded 1,691 passing yards and six touchdowns. This is no contest. Couch is one of the deadliest passers in the college game. Thompson is not.

EDGE: Kentucky.

IN THE TRENCHES: Both offensive lines are geared to fit a style. The Nittany Lions run block extremely well and the Wildcats give Couch good pass protection. The key may be on the defensive end. Penn State's highly ranked defense can pressure quarterbacks (47 sacks compared to 29 for Kentucky) and injuries have hurt Kentucky's offensive line.

EDGE: Penn State.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Speed kills and the Wildcats have lots of it. Receiver/returner Craig Yeast is averaging 29.3 yards on kickoff returns. Kentucky is inventive with its punting and averages 39.2 yards. Kicker Seth Hanson has hit 11-of-15 field goals, including 4-of-6 from over 40 yards. Penn State has struggled with its kicking game, making 20-of-29 attempts.

EDGE: Kentucky.

COACHING: Joe Paterno has been coaching since the Pyramids were being built and the venerable one shows no sign of tiring. This will be Paterno's eight straight New Year's Day game and 29th bowl game overall. It will be Hal Mumme's first. Mumme will have a few trick plays up his sleeve but there's a good chance Paterno has seen them before.

EDGE: Penn State.

INTANGIBLES: Some have suggested that the Wildcats have nothing to lose and everything to gain and that the reverse is true for Penn State. This is likely Couch's last game for UK and if there isn't a torrential downpour, as when Penn State last played in Tampa (a 43-14 win over Auburn in 1996 ), the Wildcats will want to send him off with a bang. Remember, the SEC's speed has prevailed over the Big Ten's size the past two years.

EDGE: Kentucky.

- ROGER MILLS

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