Penn State Football’s path to the Rose Bowl just got a lot easier

Running back Saquon Barkley #26 of the Penn State Nittany Lions(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Running back Saquon Barkley #26 of the Penn State Nittany Lions(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /

Penn State football received some help on Friday night in its pursuit of a Rose Bowl berth

Penn State Football fans rejoice, Utah knocked off USC in PAC-12 Championship on Friday night in Las Vegas.

Utah overcame an early 17-3 deficit to defeat the Trojans 47-24. The Utes finished the game on an impressive 43-7 run, something that is not easy to do, especially against the No. 4 team in the nation.

With the victory, Utah has locked up a spot in the Rose Bowl, thanks to the automatic tie in given to the PAC-12 champion. USC’s Playoff hopes are also likely out the door.

USC’s playoff hopes being over is what really helps Penn State. Ohio State will now slide into the last spot in the Playoff, meaning the Nittany Lions are the highest ranking Big Ten team not in the Playoff, meaning they would be given the invitation to the Rose Bowl.

There is one hurdle that still needs to be cleared in order for Penn State to face Utah, and that’s Purdue.

Purdue will face Michigan in the Big Ten Championship on Saturday night, and if the Boilermakers win, they technically have the inside track to make the Rose Bowl considering the Big Ten champion is supposed to receive the automatic tie in.

There is a way around this though. Purdue does have four losses and is currently unranked, making it a rather less than exciting option for the last true PAC-12 vs Big Ten Rose Bowl. As Jerry Palm of CBS pointed out on Twitter, the Rose Bowl can opt to not take Purdue.

As Palm notes in his tweet, this is an uncommon occurrence, last happening in 1945, but it is possible. The same can be said for Utah, but considering the Utes have ten wins are will likely be ranked in the top ten on Sunday, there’s no reason for the Rose Bowl to not take them.

While Michigan is a heavy 17-point favorite, Purdue is known for its upsets over top five teams, the Boilermakers will not be an easy out for the Wolverines.

For the sake of making things less complicated, everyone should root for Michigan (sounds terrible to say) on Saturday in the Big Ten Championship game. A Wolverine victory will keep Purdue from having an argument and officially place Penn State football in the Rose Bowl against Utah on Jan. 2, 2023.