Potential Penn State Bowl Games
As we enter Week 11 of the college football season, Penn State’s hopes of reaching the College Football Playoff are all but gone.
After starting the season 7-0 and reaching No. 2 in the AP poll, their season has come crashing down after two tough losses against Ohio State and Michigan State. A one-point loss to Ohio State and a three-point loss to Michigan State has put the Nittany Lions back to third place in the Big Ten East and No. 14 in the Playoff rankings.
Penn State needs some serious help to get into the Big Ten championship. The Nittany Lions need to win their last three games and need both Ohio State and Michigan State to each lose two of their final games. But, even if that miracle were to happen it probably wouldn’t be enough to propel Penn State into the College Football Playoff.
This shifts the focus to potential bowl games the Nittany Lions could be playing in and who their opponent could be. I see four potential bowl games Penn State could be playing in this coming bowl season.
1. Capital One Orange Bowl
This is one of the New Year’s Six bowl games, as they are picked by the committee based off matchups between teams and certain conferences. However, the Orange Bowl is most likely going to be a matchup between teams from the ACC and Big Ten. Wisconsin seems to be first in line for this game since they are the highest ranked Big Ten team, but if Penn State wins out and Wisconsin drops a game there is a chance they could finish above the Badgers. The committee has kept Wisconsin low because of their weak schedule. Another way the Nittany Lions could be in the Orange Bowl is if Wisconsin made the Playoff and Penn State won out.
Potential Opponent: Miami
2. Outback Bowl
While the Outback Bowl isn’t one of the major bowls, it always pits two high quality teams against each other. Past matchups in this game have included South Carolina vs. Michigan and Florida vs. Iowa. This seems like the most likely bowl game for the Nittany Lions if they don’t get into a New Year’s Six game. The Outback Bowl has always been one of the best game outside of the major games of the New Year’s Six. If Penn State were to be selected for this game it would be against a SEC team, which would pit two teams from arguably the two best conferences in the country.
Potential Opponent: Auburn/LSU
3. PlayStation Fiesta Bowl
Another New Year’s Six bowl game that would require similar circumstances to happen for Penn State to make this bowl. Ideally, Penn State wins out, Wisconsin makes the playoff and Ohio State loses a game for Penn State to make the Fiesta Bowl. Both teams in the Fiesta Bowl would be at-large bids, so the Nittany Lions could have a decent shot at making a New Year’s Six bowl game. Penn State would need to finish in top 10 of the playoff rankings to have a good shot at a big bowl game.
Potential Opponent: Oklahoma/TCU
4. TaxSlayer Bowl
This game is similar to the Outback Bowl as it isn’t a major bowl, but always two ranked teams facing off in the game. This bowl would more likely for Nittany Lions if they were to lose one more time and finish at 9-3, which seems unlikely. The TaxSlayer Bowl is another bowl game that requires a SEC team vs. a Big Ten team. If Penn State were to end up in this game it would be most likely against a SEC team with 3 losses.
Potential Opponent: LSU/Mississippi State
Even though it looks like the Nittany Lions’ quest for a spot in the College Football Playoff is over, Penn State still has a lot to play for. The goal should be to win out and let the chaos of college football take care of itself. Penn State can play itself into a New Year’s Six bowl game by winning out and maybe a little help. But, at worst 10-2 and an appearance in the Outback Bowl shouldn’t force people to consider this season a complete failure.
Camden Tofil is a freshman majoring in advertising/public relations. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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