Penn State football is set to open the new year in sunny Florida.
For the first time in three seasons, Penn State football has been left out of a New Year’s Six bowl. After participating in the Rose Bowl and the Fiesta Bowl the last two years, the Nittany Lions ended up on the outside looking in at the big bowls this year. Still, the consolation prize is a trip to Florida to play in what’s considered the best game outside of the top six — the Citrus Bowl.
The Nittany Lions finished at No. 12 in the CFP rankings, but just missed out on a New Year’s Six bowl thanks to Texas taking the Big 12 Sugar Bowl tie-in.
Head coach James Franklin and his squad will take on the No. 14 Kentucky Wildcats. It will mark the first time Penn State has played a team from the SEC since losing to the Georgia Bulldogs in the 2016 TaxSlayer Bowl.
Penn State had high expectations this season and was listed as a contender to make the College Football Playoff. Unfortunately, back-to-back home losses to Ohio State and Michigan State, games in which the Nittany Lions blew fourth-quarter leads, ended those hopes.
— VRBO Citrus Bowl (@CitrusBowl) December 2, 2018
Still, even after a blowout loss to Michigan, the Nittany Lions bounced back and finished the regular season with nine wins. They have a chance to pick up win number 10 in the bowl game and make it three-straight years with at least 10 wins.
Kentucky was one of the biggest surprises of the college football season this year and proved to be a tough opponent in the SEC. The Wildcats finished the season 9-3 and reeled off upsets against ranked opponents Florida and Mississippi State. Kentucky doesn’t really stand out offensively, except on the ground, but the Wildcats play tough defense, holding opponents to just 16 points a game.
Penn State and Kentucky have met just five times in the past, with the Nittany Lions holding a slight 3-2 edge. The most recent meeting between the two schools game in the 1999 Outback bowl, a game Penn State won 26-14.
The Citrus Bowl will be played on January 1 at 1:00 p.m. at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida.