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Penn State Football Opts Out Of 2020 Bowl Game

Penn State football won’t participate in a bowl game following a grueling 2020 season, the team announced late Saturday night.

The decision came following Penn State’s 56-21 victory over Illinois Saturday for its fourth straight win. Head coach James Franklin met with the team’s seniors and captains to discuss the postseason and form a plan, which was “fully supported” by Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Sandy Barbour.

“Our student-athletes have made tremendous sacrifices this season in order to play the game they love,” Barbour said. “Because of their commitment to our process and protocols, we have remained healthy and are one of two teams in the Big Ten Conference to play in all nine scheduled games.”

Barbour said she was proud of how Penn State handled the coronavirus pandemic and thanked the team’s coaches and support staff members who made the season possible.

The Nittany Lions follow a number of Power Five programs in ending their season early, including Boston College, USC, Virginia Tech, Pitt, Kansas State, and Washington. However, Penn State is the first Big Ten team to officially opt out of a postseason appearance.

Penn State last missed a bowl game following its 4-7 2004 season, which, coincidentally, was also its most recent losing season. The team didn’t participate in bowl games in 2012 or 2013 amid a postseason ban.

Penn State’s announcement comes before its potential bowl game had been set in stone. Earlier this month, college football analysts predicted the Nittany Lions could head to a number of low-caliber destinations, potentially including the Duke’s Mayo Bowl and Guaranteed Rate Bowl.

Although the team’s choice may be disappointing to fans at home, it’s pretty easy to understand why Penn State opted out of its bowl.

Franklin, for example, has been separated from his family since June to prepare for the season. His wife and two daughters, one of whom is immunocompromised from sickle cell amenia, currently live in Florida.

“We are fully supportive of their decision, knowing it has been many months since our students-athletes have been able to spend time with their families and the challenges they endured, both physically and mentally,” Franklin said. “This will be an opportunity for our guys to go home, see family and recharge for the spring semester.”

Other players and staff members have also been away from loved ones for months while conducting the season amid the coronavirus pandemic. Heading home a week early might be just what the doctor ordered after a stressful few months.

If Penn State had followed through with its postseason plans, Franklin would have earned a $200,000 bonus for the appearance alone. Regardless, he’ll cash in with a $300,000 retention bonus that hits on December 31.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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