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Penn State Football To Play In 2019 Cotton Bowl Classic

Pack your bags for the heart of Texas, Happy Valley!

No. 10 Penn State football earned a spot in the 2019 Cotton Bowl Classic. The Nittany Lions will take on 17th-ranked Memphis, a Group of Five team that won the AAC, at noon on Saturday, December 28 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Despite posting three losses throughout the 2019 season, No. 8 Wisconsin earned the Big Ten’s bid for the Rose Bowl following its 34-21 defeat against No. 2 Ohio State, which qualified for the College Football Playoff, in the Big Ten championship game.

James Franklin’s program posted a 10-2 record en route to earning its third New Year’s Six bowl bid in the past four seasons. Penn State didn’t have too many expectations entering the 2019 season, but a young, explosive offense led by first-year starting quarterback Sean Clifford combined with a shutdown defense that finished among the nation’s best in terms of points allowed helped the team shatter any and all expectations.

The Nittany Lions played in the 2017 Rose Bowl against USC following its Big Ten title run before earning a spot in the 2017 Fiesta Bowl after the next season. The Trojans won an all-timer 52-49 in Penn State’s last Rose Bowl appearance before the Nittany Lions bounced back to beat Washington 35-28 in the Fiesta Bowl, which was also Saquon Barkley’s last collegiate game.

As far as Penn State’s Cotton Bowl history is concerned, it’s posted a 2-0-1 record in three all-time appearances in the game. The Nittany Lions’ first-ever Cotton Bowl appearance was a 13-13 tie against then-No. 3 SMU in 1948, but they’d have to wait nearly 30 years before returning to the game. Joe Paterno’s first-ever Cotton Bowl appearance ended in a 30-6 Penn State rout of then-No. 12 Texas in 1972, and the team was right back in the game three years later for a 41-20 blowout win over then-No. 12 Baylor.

Big Ten teams have now played in three of the last four Cotton Bowl Classics. Wisconsin took down Central Michigan — which was coached by PJ Fleck — following its defeat to Penn State in the 2016 Big Ten title game, and Ohio State took down USC 24-7 after the 2017 season came to a close. Clemson smacked Notre Dame 30-3 in last year’s Cotton Bowl, which also served as one of the College Football Playoff’s semifinals.

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

In the most upsetting turn of events, Mikey graduated from Penn State with a digital & print journalism degree in the spring of 2020. He covered Penn State football and served as an editor for Onward State from 2018 until his graduation. Mikey is from Bedminster, New Jersey, so naturally, he spends lots of time yelling about all the best things his home state has to offer. Mikey also loves to play golf, but he sucks at it because golf is really hard. If you, for some reason, feel compelled to see what Mikey has to say on the internet, follow him on Twitter @Mikey_Mandarino. You can also get in touch with Mikey via his big-boy email address: [email protected]


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