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Penn State Bowl Projections Leaning Toward New Year’s Six Game

As we reach the halfway point of the college football regular season, we’ve officially reached bowl projection season. While Penn State football may not be bowl-eligible yet, the Nittany Lions sit at 5-0 with a matchup against 1-6 UMass on the horizon, giving them prime potential to reach the six-win threshold to reach the postseason.

Analysts have the Nittany Lions slated in a number of New Year’s Six games. Here are the expert picks for where Penn State should land this postseason.

Brad Crawford of 247 Sports and Kevin McGuire of Yahoo Sports both predict the Nittany Lions will travel south for the Orange Bowl against Drake Maye and the North Carolina Tar Heels. Penn State hasn’t faced North Carolina in 80 years, as the only matchup between the two took place in 1943.

The Tar Heels are ranked No. 12 in the country after six weeks of football and hold a 5-0 record. While North Carolina hasn’t defeated a ranked team yet, it has earned wins against four Power Five opponents.

ESPN analysts Kyle Bonagura and Mark Schlabach have Penn State reaching different bowl games, with Bonagura picking the Fiesta Bowl against the Oregon Ducks and Schlabach predicting the Cotton Bowl against the Texas Longhorns. The Nittany Lions previously appeared in the Fiesta Bowl in 2017 and the Cotton Bowl in 2019.

Currently, the Ducks and Longhorns stand as two of college football’s best teams. The No. 8-ranked Ducks are undefeated and tout one of the nation’s best offenses. Despite a recent loss, Texas is still ranked No. 9 and is highly favored as a challenger for the national title.

CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm pits the Nittany Lions in a matchup in the Peach Bowl against Alabama in Atlanta. It would be Penn State’s first Peach Bowl appearance.

Penn State has played Alabama 15 times in the programs’ histories, most recently in home-and-home matchups in 2010 and 2011. Penn State lost both games and has only beaten the Crimson Tide five times. While Alabama isn’t having a season that is up to its usual standards, it has only suffered one loss this season and stands ranked No. 11 in the AP Poll.

Also picking the Orange Bowl for Penn State is Action Network’s Brett McMurphy. McMurphy has the undefeated Louisville Cardinals taking on the Nittany Lions, who haven’t faced off against each other since 1997. College Football Network slotted the Nittany Lions in the Cotton Bowl against the Oklahoma Sooners instead of Texas as Schlabach picked.

Oklahoma is recently coming off of a huge upset over Texas that saw it jump Penn State in the rankings to take the No. 5 spot, much to the dismay of many Nittany Lion fans.

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About the Author

Matt Brown

Matt is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism and minoring in sports studies from Bensalem, Pa. Matt is a huge Philadelphia sports fan and an overall sports fan in general. When not watching sports, you'll find him watching reruns of Community or The Office. To reach him, follow him on Twitter and Instagram: @matt_brown63, or email him at [email protected].

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