Pros and Cons of Penn State’s Potential Bowl Games
About a month ago, we compiled a list of bowl games Penn State could play in, and discussed the likelihood that the team would actually receive an invitation. The Nittany Lions have since hit the magical number six and officially became bowl eligible after defeating Temple on Saturday. Using the list of potential bowl destinations provided by Penn State, let’s weigh the pros and cons of each game that the Nittany Lions could play in.
Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl
For starters, this game will be light on the wallet, with tickets ranging between $25-$125 in price. The game itself would square the Nittany Lions off against an opponent from Conference USA, which could definitely bolster Penn State’s chances of winning. Conference USA play has been, well, less than stellar this season. The Nittany Lions would be likely to face the likes of Louisiana Tech, Rice, or UTEP, and would avoid having to play Marshall, who is the conference’s top team.
Marshall currently sits at 10-0, and will probably receive a bid from an upper tier bowl, seeing as they sit outside of the College Football Playoff picture despite their undefeated record. Conference USA play has been mostly a joke, with no wins against AP top-25 competition, and only four teams that are currently at or above the six-win mark.
The game will be held in Dallas, making travel for those residing on the East Coast somewhat of a hassle. Additionally, the game will be held on Dec. 26, during one of the biggest travel periods of the year, making flights both pricey and difficult to come by. This bowl is one of the lower tier bowls, and depending on how the Nittany Lions close out the regular season, the team could find itself slotted for this game. However, let’s hope the team gets a better bid, because it can definitely do better than this.
Quick Lane Bowl
This bowl game would feature a much better opponent and a fairly affordable ticket price. The Nittany Lions would face off against an ACC team — most likely Miami, NC State, or Boston College — and would play in Detroit. That’s a much more manageable trip, and at a generous cost. The priciest ticket as of right now is $89. This bowl game, despite its label as a lower tier bowl, should produce a great matchup at a quality venue. Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions, has hosted numerous high profile games in multiple sports, and offers a great fan experience.
This game will be played on Dec. 26 as well, making it a hectic travel period for those making the trip to the game. The drive to Michigan for those on the East Coast is a bit lengthy, but at least travelers have the option to drive rather than fly. The only real downside is that Detroit is not the most glamorous city in the world, which could slightly hinder the fan experience. This game is one of the more likely scenarios and would present a fun matchup.
New Era Pinstripe Bowl
If the team is going to play in a mid-tier bowl game, this is definitely the one to play in. The game would match Penn State up against an ACC opponent, but it is not necessarily the matchup that should entice fans, but rather the venue. The Pinstripe Bowl will be held in Yankee Stadium, one of the most iconic venues in all of sports. Nestled right in the heart of New York City, this bowl experience tops any other. There is always something to do in New York City, especially right after Christmas time. The game will be held on Dec. 27, and while it will be cold, it would be an easy trip for East Coasters.
The main downside for this bowl is price. Ticket prices as of right now range between $55-$220, and hotel prices will be incredibly high, plus nothing in New York City is easy on the wallet. But despite the cost, this game offers the best fan experience, and is the most likely scenario for Penn State.
National University Holiday Bowl
This will be the farthest trek out of any possible bowl site, as this game will be held in San Diego. For those intending on making a cross country trip, ticket prices range from $75-$125. The game itself would put the Nittany Lions against a Pac-12 opponent, and would most likely feature a team like UCLA or Arizona from the loaded South division. The crowd will be pro Pac-12, given the location, and would be a solid matchup.
As for experience, San Diego offers a vastly different climate than the northeast during the winter months, and would undoubtedly be a nice break from the cold for fans. This is more of an upper-tier bowl, but the cons outweigh the pros given the game’s far location.
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
This bowl game features an opponent from the SEC, making it the toughest matchup the Nittany Lions could hypothetically face. The SEC has been dominant across the board this season, and no team would be a guaranteed victory. The most likely opponent for Penn State would be LSU, given its standing in the loaded SEC West division.
The game itself would be held in Nashville, Tennessee, with ticket prices running between $85-$120, making it one of the more reasonable bowl destinations. Nashville offers a vibrant night life, and plenty to do and see. The game will be played on Dec. 30, giving fans a comfortable gap between Christmas, which makes traveling to the game less of a nightmare.
Foster Farms Bowl
This bowl, like the Holiday Bowl, would feature a matchup with a Pac-12 opponent and would be played on the West Coast. The game will be held on Dec. 30 in Levi’s Stadium, the brand new home of the San Francisco 49ers, with ticket prices running between $59-$129. San Francisco and San Diego are vastly different and offer much different experiences for fans. The issue of location still remains, as a cross country trip would be quite expensive for those living on the East Coast.
Capital One Orange Bowl
There is not too much to say about the Orange Bowl, mainly because it’s, you know, the Orange Bowl. This game is one of the top tier bowls, and will not be featuring Penn State. It would be great if the Nittany Lions received an invite, but realistically, that’s just not in the cards this season.
The Outback Bowl, hosted in iconic Raymond James Stadium, is another bowl that will not feature Penn State. This is one of the best bowls that isn’t part of the “New Years Six,” and features some of the best teams that did not win a conference championship. Tampa is a great city, but tickets run between $80-$170, making this game one of the priciest. The team would play the likes of Georgia or Missouri, and the ensuing result would not be pretty. The fan experience would be top of the line, but this game just isn’t realistic for Penn State.
Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl
The Citrus Bowl, which was previously the Capital One Bowl, is one of the better bowls in this year’s slate making an appearance by Penn State a long shot. Hosted in the newly renovated Citrus Bowl Stadium in Orlando, Florida, this game’s site features a great location, but at a price. Tickets range from $65-$245, and features top of the line SEC opponents, which would make for a difficult matchup for Penn State. Orlando is a fantastic city, and is not too difficult for fans to travel to. The only problem is that the game will be played on New Years Day. Overall, This would be a great scenario for the Nittany Lions, but in reality, remains a pipe dream.
The TaxSlayer Bowl, previously known as the Gator Bowl, features a matchup with the SEC, and is held in Jacksonville, Florida. The site, Everbank Field, provides a great atmosphere for fans. Ticket prices range between $85-$125, which is reasonable for a bowl of its caliber, and depending on how the rest of the season goes, could feature the Nittany Lions. The game will be held on Jan. 2, which would make travel difficult seeing as it’s the day after New Years. The matchup would be a great one, given that it would feature a team from the SEC, and the overall fan experience would be top notch.
A list of all potential bowl sites can be found here. Where do you want to see the Nittany Lions play postseason football?