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Staff Predictions: Penn State Football’s Bowl Destination

It’s almost bowl SZN, folks.

Following its 10-2 regular season, Penn State will find out its bowl fate this Sunday when the CFP committee releases its final rankings beginning at noon. It’s been rumored that the Nittany Lions could be smelling roses, but the Cotton Bowl and Orange Bowl remain possibilities, too.

Our staffers took their best guesses as to where Penn State will end up this bowl season.

Nolan Wick: Rose Bowl vs. Washington

With reports that the Rose Bowl is seriously considering selecting Penn State over Ohio State this year, I’ve got my hopes up that the Nittany Lions will be smelling roses out in Pasadena.

Even if the Rose Bowl chooses to stick to tradition by selecting the best non-CFP Big Ten team, I think it’s quite possible that either No. 3 TCU or No. 4 USC get upset this weekend, likely giving the Buckeyes a CFP berth, which would make Penn State the best Big Ten team remaining.

The Rose Bowl is the most storied bowl game there is, and it’s a very good look for any program. The location, venue, and quality of games in recent years are why I want to see Penn State in this game for the first time since 2017.

Brendan Wagner: Rose Bowl vs. USC

Penn State will be smelling roses in its bowl game rematch against USC. The CFP committee will be reluctant to put Ohio State in Pasadena two years in a row, leaving the spot open for the Lions. 

Joe Lister: Duke’s Mayo Bowl vs. Kentucky

Frankly, it’s most likely that the Nittany Lions will be heading to the Rose Bowl this year. While everyone else may be smelling roses, I’m smelling mayonnaise.

Last year, the Duke’s Mayo Bowl started a tradition where they dump mayonnaise on the winning coach’s head. A few weeks back, I wrote about my desire to slap James Franklin with a handful of whipped cream, however, I’ve realized that mayonnaise would be WAY cooler. Make the right decision, Duke’s Mayo Bowl. Send the invitation.

Owen Abbey: Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl vs. UCLA

Folks, there’s a lot of hype surrounding Penn State and NY6 bowl games, but I fear that hype is misplaced. I think Penn State belongs in California for its bowl game, however, I don’t believe Pasadena is the ideal location for the Nittany Lions.

Jimmy Kimmel deserves a top tier program to play in the bowl game named after him, and who better to be that top tier program than Penn State? Just picture James Franklin and Sean Clifford going to Los Angeles a little bit before the game, and going on Kimmel’s show. It would be iconic! Plus, you can have various celebrities like Ty Burrell and Keegan-Michael Key stop by and bring some life into the team and fan base.

This would be a fun experience that could show off the personality of this team and be a great recruiting tool for the future. Besides, roses are overrated.

Brady Miller: Rose Bowl vs. USC

Yes, I know in order for this to happen Ohio State will most likely have to still make the playoff. But something about the build up for the Rose Bowl and watching it talk about Penn State during the parade sounds more appealing than a possible matchup in the Cotton Bowl with Tulane. I would love to see Penn State get revenge on USC for beating it in the 2017 Rose Bowl. So, I’ll be cheering for TCU or USC to lose their respective conference championships in hopes they free up a playoff spot for Ohio State, ultimately landing Penn State in the “Grandaddy of Them All.”

If this happens, we might be lucky enough to get a remake of James Droz’s famous USC video.

Mikey DeAngelis: Cotton Bowl vs. Tulane

Assuming USC and TCU both win their conference championship games this weekend, Ohio State will likely be chosen ahead of Penn State for the Rose Bowl. In that case, I think the Cotton Bowl is Penn State’s most likely bowl destination, where it’ll face the winner of the AAC Championship game, either Tulane or UCF. Personally, I think it’ll be Tulane.

Grace Cunningham: Bubble Bowl vs. Hawaii

I want Penn State to go to the Bubble Bowl. The Blue Band would absolutely dominate the Bikini Bottom Super Band, and I think the Nittany Lion would have a killer performance of “Sweet Victory.” James Franklin also kind of looks like Squidward, so it works.

Devon Craley: Rose Bowl vs. Washington

I hope and believe that the Nittany Lions will end up playing in the Rose Bowl. Their last Rose Bowl appearance against USC was one of the best college football games I’ve ever watched, and while I don’t think this Penn State team is as good as that one, I think that a matchup against Washington will make for a pretty good game.

I think the Nittany Lions will play Washington because USC will beat Utah, putting it in the playoff and bumping Utah behind Washington. I also believe that Kansas State will upset TCU in the Big 12 championship game, knocking the Horned Frogs out of the playoff picture and allowing Ohio State to enter the top four.

Frankie Marzano: Rose Bowl vs. Washington

I think this is all but a lock at this point, as it makes sense for everybody. I’m sure the Rose Bowl would love to pick Penn State since Ohio State failed to sell out its allotment of tickets last season. Also, the Buckeyes would probably rather meet Clemson in the Orange Bowl, who they already have bad blood with. It makes sense for everybody. Give me the roses.

Sam Fremin: Orange Bowl vs. Clemson

To think when I first decided I would predict the Orange Bowl, it felt optimistic. Now it seems pessimistic. The New Year’s Six door seems permanently slammed open, but now there are reports that Ohio State would be passed over for a Rose Bowl bid.

I’m not saying it won’t happen, but I’ll believe it once I see it. I’m solely operating under the assumption that, as tradition, the Rose Bowl would want the best-available Big Ten team of the year. That’s Ohio State. From a fan perspective, too, I genuinely think a date with Clemson would be a more exciting option than one with Washington. Who knows though? The reporting just veers more and more in another direction…

Ryan Parsons: Rose Bowl vs. Washington

I’d love for this to be against Utah, but beggars can’t be choosers. The Utes are unlikely to appear in this game after playing in Pasadena last season. I’m looking forward to a red, blue, and white start to the new year. Everything’s coming up roses.

Gabe Angieri: Rose Bowl vs. Washington

Get ready to wake up and smell the roses, folks.

I’m all in on a potential Rose Bowl berth. Heck, I’m at the point where I’d be extremely disappointed if it didn’t happen. After an impressive, bounce-back 10-2 season, this would be the perfect end to the Nittany Lions’ season.

See you soon, Pasadena.

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