Over the past several seasons, one of the consequences of the College Football Playoff has been the increase in opt-outs for non-playoff bowl games. That even goes for New Year’s Six Bowl games like the Orange Bowl, however, the Peach Bowl hasn’t had many.
Penn State and Ole Miss are two programs set to benefit from an expanded playoff next season, but while many view bowl games as meaningless, James Franklin and Lane Kiffin have built cultures that value competition.
Even with several players from both rosters headed for the NFL, there are very few opt-outs for the Peach Bowl. Lane Kiffin didn’t expect many when the matchup was first announced, but that had more to do with the lack of top draft prospects on his team than the loyalty to the program.
Kiffin has been very active in the transfer portal, adding one of the best transfer classes in the country, but he also has 13 players in the portal leaving the program. Franklin is only losing two players to the portal, and even with some players projected to go in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft, Penn State is expected to nearly have its full complement of weapons for Saturday.
There is just one player one each side that has officially opted out.
Penn State Peach Bowl opt-outs:
Chop Robinson missed some time due to injury in his second season with the Nittany Lions after transferring from Maryland. Still, he finished with four sacks and two forced fumbles in 2023 and is expected to be a first-round pick this Spring.
With no eligibility remaining, it wasn't a surprise when Johnny Dixon accepted an invitation to the Reese's Senior Bowl, and it was officially announced on Friday that Dixon will not play in the Peach Bowl.
Olu Fashanu was projected to be a top-10 draft pick in 2023 but instead decided to return to finish his degree at Penn State. He has declared for the draft and did travel to Atlanta. Fashanu was listed as OUT on the pregame availability report.
Kalen King came into the season as a projected first-rounder, but this year as the No. 1 corner in Manny Diaz's defense, King struggled and his draft stock fell. King was listed on the pregame availability report as OUT.
Ole Miss Peach Bowl opt-outs:
Lane Kiffin didn't expect his senior defensive end to opt out of the Peach Bowl, but after declaring for the draft, Johnson decided not to play on Saturday in Atlanta. Johnson finished 2023 with 5.5 sacks and a forced fumble.