What Will It Take For Penn State To Make The Rose Bowl?

This season has smelled like everything except roses, but somehow, Penn State enters its final weekend with an outside shot of making it to Pasadena for the second time in three years.

Sure, no one has predicted a Rose Bowl berth for the Nittany Lions in nearly two months. Instead, they’ve been tabbed for everything from the Pinstripe Bowl to the Outback Bowl to most recently, a likely New Year’s Six bid. 

But what if, by some act of God, that New Year’s Six game ended up being the Rose Bowl? We might just be looking through rose-colored glasses, but all it would take is a few not-so-out-of-the-ordinary things that need to happen.

Editor’s note: This is all hypothetical and inspired by our own selfish desire to relive the The Granddaddy of Them All’s fanfare and hype. We don’t even want to think about the very bad and not good things that Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshew and his dad ‘stache would do to this defense.

Michigan needs to blow out Ohio State

One-loss Ohio State is ranked two spots ahead of three-loss Penn State. That one loss in and of itself could keep the Buckeyes out of the College Football Playoff — even with wins this weekend and in the Big Ten Championship.

But another awful loss this weekend? Although it likely wouldn’t kill the Buckeyes’ New Year’s Six hopes, it COULD drop them at least two spots in the rankings….making Penn State the highest non-playoff Big Ten team.

We aren’t sure what the threshold would be to qualify losing to the No. 4 team as “a bad loss.” But just to be safe, bank on rooting for Shea Patterson, Don Brown, and the rest of Revenge Tour brigade to pillage Columbus, spare only its women and children, and salt its earth this weekend.

If there ever were a year when Michigan would beat (and possibly blow out) Ohio State, it’d be this year. With the nation’s best defense and for once, a dynamic offense, the Wolverines seem to be legit. The Buckeyes might have an edge on offense, but their defense has been suspect all season. Suspect enough to let Maryland score 51 points and Penn State rack up nearly 500 yards of offense.

As much it pains us to say this — Go Blue!

Michigan needs to win the Big Ten Championship

Unfortunately, if you want to go to the Rose Bowl, you’ll need to lay the Jim Harbaugh-Big Ten Championship jokes to rest. Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this tough time.

Michigan needs to make the playoff for Penn State to get a shot at Pasadena. As unlikely as it is, a loss to Northwestern next weekend would crush the Wolverines’ hopes of holding onto their No. 4 ranking and relegate them to a lesser New Year’s Six Bowl. The Wildcats’ weird and improbable season would then end in a trip to the Rose Bowl as the Big Ten Champion.

With as many as three other Big Ten teams qualifying for New Year’s Six Bowls, this scenario could also end in Penn State missing out on a bid to the NY6. But we love chaos. If everything else works in the Nittany Lions’ favor but this is the route that forces them into the Outback Bowl, we can’t even say we’d be mad. 

Penn State needs to beat Maryland

Of course, none of this matters if Penn State can’t take care of business on its own end. That’s saying a lot, given how bad the Nittany Lions have looked during the last month — even though they’ve somehow managed to go 3-1 during that span. Let’s also not forget what upset-minded Maryland nearly did to Ohio State last weekend.

Penn State SHOULD win this game, but the Terps will be playing for bowl eligibility after an emotional season. The Nittany Lions, well, they just need to try to not mess anything up. Beating Maryland convincingly would help too, of course. But let’s not get greedy.

Hell, this is all about a team we’ve been complaining about all season making the Rose Bowl. Being greedy is an afterthought at this point.

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About the Author

Anthony Colucci

Anthony Colucci was once Onward State’s managing editor and preferred walk-on honors student who majored in psychology and public relations. Despite being from the make-believe land of Central Jersey, he was never a Rutgers fan. If you ever want to know how good Saquon Barkley's ball security is, ask Anthony what happened when he tried to force a fumble at the Mifflin Streak. If you want to hear the story or are bored and want to share prequel memes, follow @_anthonycolucci on Twitter or email him at [email protected]. All other requests and complaints should be directed to Onward State media contact emeritus Steve Connelly.

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