Is Penn State Football bowl bound?

Head coach James Franklin of the Penn State Nittany Lions (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Head coach James Franklin of the Penn State Nittany Lions (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /
1 of 4

Penn State football picked up their third straight victory Saturday, defeating Michigan State 39-24, bringing up the potential of finishing this season .500.

After falling behind by 11 points at halftime Saturday afternoon, Penn State football roared back to defeat the Spartans for their third consecutive win. On Sunday, the Big Ten announced their “championship week” games, and the Nittany Lions drew the 2-5 Illinois Fighting Illini who they will host at Beaver Stadium this upcoming week at 5:30 est.

Hosting Illinois in a week nine matchup provides head coach James Franklin‘s squad with the chance to stack a fourth consecutive victory, and even the possibility of a bowl berth, something that seemed like a long shot just a few short weeks ago.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, this year’s bowl schedule, like most things in 2020 will be anything but normal.

With no bowl requirements in terms of wins needed to qualify, the Penn State football brand — recognized as the No. 81 most popular thing in the world in the 2020 FanSided250 rankings — will make them an attractive option, especially for bowls that Penn State is normally to successful for, as they have reached a New Year’s Six bowl game in three of the last four years. Penn State football defeated Memphis in the Cotton Bowl last season, 53-39.

After Saturday’s victory, Franklin told the media they have not talked about the postseason yet, because bowl games keep getting cancelled due to Covid-19.

However, when asked, the players seemed excited about the potential of getting one more game this season.

"“I wouldn’t want any other thing than to play with my brothers,” junior Jahan Dotson told reporters. “At the end of the day, you only get so many opportunities to suit up in the blue and white.”"

Senior Safety Jaquan Brisker, who had one of his best games as a Nittany Lion, echoed similar sentiments to Dotson after the game.

"Honestly, we’re just focused on the next game, but if that’s possible — of course [we’d want to play],” Brisker said."

In the past few days, we have seen two ACC programs, Boston College and Pitt announce that they will forego any bowl game this season. Citing the fact that some players have not seen their families since June, and thought they deserved the opportunity to return home for the holidays.

Time will tell how the Penn State football program will handle a potential bowl invitation, but if the players want to go and compete, it seems like an opportunity they should be given.

Franklin, the players, and the Penn State Football program will need to weigh the value of added Bowl game practices to prepare for 2021 against the logistical concerns and mental well-being of their players’ inability to see their families over the holidays when deciding whether to accept a bowl bid.

With this upcoming weekend being the regular season finale across all conferences, national pundits have begun to put together their bowl projections, as six bowl matchups have already been announced. It seems their are a few bowl games that might make sense for a Penn State team to wind up in based on on conference tie-ins, and a few potential matchups have been thrown around that might excite the Penn State fan base come game day.

Lets take a look at some potential bowl projections for the Nittany Lions:


Bowl: Duke’s Mayo Bowl

Location: Charlotte, N.C (Bank of America Stadium)

Date: Dec 30th

Time: Noon, ESPN

Opponent: Virginia Tech

This matchup is probably the most intriguing of the bunch, as Penn State football was slated to travel to Blacksburg in Week 2 to take on the Hokies, until the game was canceled once the conference decided to play a Big Ten only schedule due to Covid-19. Virginia Tech finished their season 5-6, losing four of their last five games. Two brand names who had disappointing seasons would be an interesting matchup in Charlotte, for the inaugural Mayo Bowl.