As another regular season of college football comes to a close, another bowl season begins. Of the 35 bowls offered to all FBS conferences, the Big Ten is guaranteed seven of them, meaning at least half of the conference will participate in the bowl-season this year. However, with the Nittany Lions banned from postseason play for the next four years, Bowl Selection Sunday passed without much interest from Nittany Nation.
But what if Penn State was allowed to participate in a bowl season? Here’s a look at where the Nittany Lions might have ended up if the NCAA hadn’t foiled it.
- Rose Bowl – While this one is a bit of a stretch, look which team made it — the 8-5 Wisconsin Badgers. If Ohio State was not sanctioned, they would have played in the B1G championship, but if the Buckeyes still had its one year ban, Penn State would have represented the Leaders Division in the annual match. Penn State would have had a second chance at Nebraska, and in my honest opinion, I believe they would have a solid chance at beating the Huskers. This unlikely scenario could have put Penn State in the Grand Daddy of them all against a tough Stanford Cardinal team.
- Capital One Bowl – If Penn State made it to the B1G championship and lost, this would have been an automatic bid. Also, the people behind marketing could label it as the 1982 re-match of the titans, which would draw a lot of alumni and other viewers.
- Outback – Realistically, this would be the bowl Penn State would have drawn. The fan base of a team is a big part of bowl selection. The Outback Bowl is one of the more popular bowl games (outside of the BCS), and seeing as how it’s a New Year’s Day game in a professional stadium, the selection committee would try to put as many fans in Raymond James Stadium as possible. The only other competition could potentially be Michigan, but statistically Penn State was a better team and received more national attention, which means that this bowl would receive more viewers if Penn State participated.
- Gator – The Gator Bowl would likely not host the Nittany Lions this year. However, if Michigan were to make the Outback Bowl, then we would most likely get placed here against Ole Miss.
- Heart of Dallas – The former TicketCity Bowl would be the least likely host of Penn State. But seeing as how it’s hosting Purdue, I highly doubt that they would play at the Cotton Bowl, even if they got romped there last year.
The other two bowls that the Big Ten is guaranteed (Buffalo Wild Wings and Meinke Car Care) would have been well below Penn State’s statistical standards, so those bowls were automatically taken out of the equation. A lot of these would have been great games which would have significantly boosted the economies of several cities, but that’s what happens when your university has a “culture problem” I suppose.