Is it Rose Bowl or bust for Penn State Football?

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 02: Center Brian Gaia
PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 02: Center Brian Gaia /

Penn State Football has one regular season game remaining, but it’s time to start looking at what bowl season will look like for the Nittany Lions

Penn State football would like to finish this season 10-2 and head to a major bowl game, but which bowl will it be?

Penn State should not look past Michigan State this Saturday. The Spartans may be 5-6, but they are a talented team and would love to play spoiler and reach a bowl.

While the Nittany Lions can’t look ahead, we can, considering we’re just fans and don’t prepare for and play in the Saturday’s game.

With that said, let’s look at what bowl game Penn State Football may play in.

Right now, the general consensus is that Penn State will play in the Citrus Bowl. The path to the Cotton Bowl or Orange Bowl is looking quite difficult because four SEC teams are currently ranked ahead of Penn State.

Goergia will likely go to The Playoff, but Alabama, LSU and Tennessee could all find themselves in a New Year’s Six bowl, which would include the Cotton and Orange bowls. Unless one of these three teams are upset this Saturday, it’s very likely they all stay ahead of Penn State in the rankings.

While the rankings do not directly correlate to receiving a bid for a NY6 bowl, higher ranked teams always have the advantage.

So, if you’re a Penn State football fan and want to see the Nittany Lions return to a NY6 bowl for the first time since the 2019 Cotton Bowl, then it may be Rose Bowl or bust.

Penn State has a path to the Rose Bowl. If Michigan and Ohio State both make The Playoff, the Nittany Lions would be the next highest ranked Big Ten team, giving them the nod for the Rose Bowl.

In order for both Michigan and Ohio State to make The Playoff, the game Saturday between the two needs to be close. Each team winning has its pros and cons, so it really comes down to the game being competitive.

That’s step one.

Step two is USC losing this week to Notre Dame or next week in the Pac12 Championship game. That would knock the Spartans out of playoff contention. The other team that would likely need to lose is Clemson. The 10-1 Tigers are oddly ranked at No. 8, behind two teams that each have two losses.

Maybe the committee doesn’t respect Clemson’s body of work and would take the Michigan/Ohio State loser over Clemson, but it’s just easier if the Tigers lose.

If this scenario becomes reality, Penn State will head to the Rose Bowl, likely facing USC, the last team the Nittany Lions played in the Rose Bowl back on New Year’s Day 2017.