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Staff Predictions: Penn State Football’s Bowl Destination

Despite Penn State football’s disappointing 2021 season, there’s still a bowl game to be played.

While at the beginning of the season the Rose Bowl or other New Year’s Six bowls may have been popular choices, we’re not at that point anymore. The 7-5 Nittany Lions appear destined for a mid-tier bowl game.

With that in mind, our staff made its picks for Penn State’s eventual bowl fate.

Frankie Marzano: Citi Metro Bowl vs. Blue Mountain State

You might be thinking to yourself, “Wait! That bowl doesn’t exist!” Well, it’s time to think outside of the box, my friend. The Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium might be where Penn State will most likely end up, but I think it’s about time that the home of the New York Mets gets to host its own bowl game, too. Yes, this bowl game was my own idea, but it’s never too late to turn an idea into reality!

Charles Reinert: Pinstripe Bowl vs. Wake Forest

Hey man, bring on the Big Apple. Not only would this be close to a large portion of Penn State football’s fan base, but it’s in a unique setting and would be a really cool experience. People want Penn State to go down south for its bowl game appearance, but honestly, I don’t want that. Football is a cold-weather game. If you want to watch football in 80-degree weather, be a USC fan. I’ll take a cold snow game over a hot 80-degree game any day of the week.

Sam Fremin: Pinstripe Bowl vs. UNC

Penn State and North Carolina share a scary amount of storylines right now. Coming into this season, they were both ranked in the preseason top-25. Seen as slight dark horses to usurp their conferences’ traditional powers, each aimed for conference championships. Instead, both had dramatic collapses, leading to mediocre records and subsequent questions about coaching decisions.

Furthermore, the Nittany Lion and Tar Heel faithful do not necessarily believe that this season is an accurate representation of where the programs lie. There is palpable professional talent on each roster. Just look at Penn State’s Jahan Dotson, Arnold Ebikeite, Jaquan Brisker, and UNC’s Sam Howell. Both schools also boast top-10 recruiting classes for 2022 under the direction of master recruiters James Franklin and Mack Brown.

There is a lot at stake in a bowl game between two pissed-off programs. The relatively equal results, future NFLers, and promising futures make for what could be a surprisingly memorable finale to an otherwise underwhelming season.

Nolan Wick: Pinstripe Bowl vs. Clemson

The Las Vegas Bowl and Music City Bowls have their pros, but the Pinstripe Bowl is the best and most exciting fit for the blue and white. Why? The idea of watching football being played on a baseball field is really freaking cool. I mean, how often do you get to see that? Penn State would get paired with an ACC team, making for a good East Coast matchup. Plus, Yankee Stadium would be filled with the Nittany Lion faithful as well, whereas it may not be that way in Vegas or Nashville.

Connor Krause: Las Vegas Bowl vs. UCLA

As far as bowl locations go for teams that finish the regular season with average records, it would be hard to find a more attractive postseason spot than Las Vegas. If the Nittany Lions were to be selected for the Las Vegas Bowl, James Franklin’s squad would likely face off against UCLA from the PAC 12 in a game featuring two underachieving, but talented, teams. The matchup with the Bruins’ high-powered offense, led by efficient quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson and former Michigan running back Zach Charbonnet, would pose Penn State’s stout defense with an exciting test to close out the current campaign. 

Additionally, with a victory, the Nittany Lions could earn the program’s first win over a PAC 12 foe since the Fiesta Bowl four years ago. Between fans enjoying warm, sunny weather right before the new year paired with the team being able to play a quality opponent in the newly built Allegiant Stadium, the Las Vegas Bowl seems like a win-win situation for all involved.

Gabe Angieri: Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl vs. Oregon State

So, this isn’t actually possible, but I don’t care.

The Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl is set to be played between the Mountain West and Pac-12 conferences. However, I think there should be an exception that allows the Nittany Lions to play in the bowl’s debut.

This has already been a stupid season, so it would be a fitting end for Penn State to play in the highly anticipated Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl and be put in the history books forever.

Will Pegler: Pinstripe Bowl vs. UNC

At the beginning of the season, this wasn’t a bowl I saw the Nittany Lions playing in. It may not be a New Year’s Six, but it’d still be pretty damn fun to watch Penn State play in Yankee Stadium again.

James Franklin’s group fits the mold pretty well to represent the Big Ten in this one. The Nittany Lions have a 7-5 record on the season compared to UNC’s 6-6, while both squads have a couple of solid wins this year. It’d also be fun to watch Penn State’s defense take on Tar Heels quarterback Sam Howell, who’s projected by many to be a first-round pick in this year’s NFL Draft.

The Las Vegas and Music City Bowls are also in the mix for the Nittany Lions, but I think a Big Ten-ACC matchup would be the most fun for Penn State fans. The Nittany Lions have already played an SEC team year, and again, it’s Yankee Stadium, ladies and gents.

Ryan Parsons: Music City Bowl vs. Arkansas

Full transparency here, I am addicted to football road trips I think. I miss them so much. While the Pinstripe Bowl would be the closest and most logistical option, I would love to get back together with the football beat and take a nice drive down to Nashville. Plus, it’s Nashville. Come on.

Since Penn State is already poised for a subpar bowl, I feel like an SEC team would be the biggest boost to the Nittany Lions’ resume and would be the best option for a “prestigious” win. Plus, the Big Ten vs. SEC debate is always fun, and Penn State being involved in it again would be cool.

Matt DiSanto: Pinstripe Bowl vs. Virginia

Ever since my little brother began attending Virginia in 2019, I’ve had a soft spot for the Cavaliers. My secondary fandom is well documented, and it’s even been the subject of light-hearted ridicule from Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf.

Naturally, I’d love to see my Nittany Lions face my brother’s Virginia Cavaliers in a bowl game. The month-long debate over who’d win the game would tear our household to pieces, and I’d love watching Virginia try to keep up with Penn State — even in its current state.

Honestly, I’m extremely confident that Penn State will actually end up in this bowl game. Now, all I’ll need to do is figure out what to wear…

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