Fiesta Bowl Staff Predictions: No. 9 Penn State vs. No. 11 Washington
It’s been a long layover, hasn’t it? Fear not, folks, Penn State football is back! The Nittany Lions get ready to face a stingy Washington team in hopes of leaving the Valley of the Sun with a bowl victory. Our staff is relatively confident in Penn State’s ability to seal the deal. Take a look at everyone’s thoughts:
Nathaniel Pinskey: Washington 24, Penn State 21
Let me preface this with the thought that I don’t think Saquon Barkley is even going to play in this game; he has nothing to gain from playing, but everything to lose if he does. That said, Washington has one of the best defenses in the nation and I think Penn State will struggle to score against the Huskies. I don’t expect the offensive line play to have gotten much better since a month ago, so I don’t really see Miles Sanders getting many holes or Trace McSorley having much time to read the defense.
Defensively, the Nittany Lions will have to contain Myles Gaskin, a task that would have helped if they still had Manny Bowen on roster. Even if they lose, I think this will be a great way to prepare for next season. Sanders, Lamont Wade, and Tariq Castro-Fields will get extensive looks to prepare them for feature roles next season.
Ethan Kasales: Penn State 38, Washington 31
This one could come down to a late Penn State drive to break the stalemate between these two evenly matched teams. I see Trace McSorley hitting DaeSean Hamilton for the game-winning touchdown with less than a minute to play.
Mitch Stewart: Penn State 42 Washington 24
The Nittany Lions are just four points away from behind undefeated this year. They’re just one point away from being in the College Football Playoff. Washington has had great success over the last few years behind their offensive corps of Jake Browning, Myles Gaskin, and Dante Pettis, but I just think Penn State is across the board more talented than the Huskies. Expect Saquon Barkley to cap his Nittany Lion career with at least three scores this Saturday.
Mikey Mandarino: Penn State 28, Washington 24
This game won’t be a shootout like most of the Nittany Lions’ affairs this season because of Washington’s elite defense, but I still expect James Franklin’s squad to emerge victorious. Marcus Allen, Jason Cabinda, Mike Gesicki, and (probably) Saquon Barkley will finish their collegiate careers with a victory and an 11-2 season behind them after making big contributions in the Fiesta Bowl.
David Abruzzese: Penn State 31, Washington 24
Penn State football is back and balance has been restored to the world. In what’s likely his final game, expect Saquon Barkley to relish the moment and completely dominate the vaunted Washington defense before hearing his name called in April. Expect a classic between two top-tier programs, but in the end, the Nittany Lions will secure their first bowl victory since the 2014 Pinstripe Bowl.