Is Penn State Football a lock for the Rose Bowl?

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

Penn State Football still awaits its bowl destination after finishing the season 10-2

Penn State Football could be headed back to the Rose Bowl for the first time since the 2016-17 season.

Penn State is currently ranked No. 8 in the College Football Playoff rankings. After championship weekend, there’s a chance the Nittany Lions could move back to No. 9, but that will not change their bowl fate.

With two non-playoff SEC teams ahead of Penn State, the chances of the Nittany Lions making the Orange Bowl are very, very low. The Cotton Bowl looked like the most likely New Year’s Six destination for Penn State Football.

But that thought process has turned to the Rose Bowl this week.

There are a few ways Penn State can get to the Rose Bowl.

The first route is the most reasonable, one of USC and TCU lose in their respective conference championship game, opening the door for Ohio State to make the Playoff. That would make Penn State the highest ranking Big Ten team not in the playoff, meaning it would receive the automatic bid to the Rose Bowl.

It seemed impossible for Penn State to make the Rose Bowl without Ohio State and Michigan both making the Playoff, but maybe not.

Considering Ohio State was just in the Rose Bowl last season and in the 2019 game, both the Buckeyes and the Rose Bowl can opt to go in different directions this time around. The Rose Bowl may want some fresh blood in the game, especially after Ohio State did not sell out its ticket allotment last year.

Recent reports by The Athletic suggest that may be the route the Rose Bowl goes.

Because Ohio State did not win the Big Ten, the Rose Bowl does not have to automatically take the Buckeyes. Penn State can be the selection.

Moreover, Ohio State is ranked ahead of Tennessee and Alabama in the rankings, so it could get priority over those two schools for the Orange Bowl. The Buckeyes may prefer the Orange Bowl anyway, because the game will likely be against Clemson, a team Ohio State has a recent rivalry with.

While we won’t know for sure until Sunday, there’s a chance that nothing but a Purdue shocking upset over Michigan in the Big Ten championship game will keep Penn State out of the Rose Bowl.