Where will Penn State football fans flock to for the postseason?
With the end of the regular season and no conference championship game for Penn State football, there’s nothing to do except sit and wait to find out which bowl the Nittany Lions will land in. The picture is a bit more muddled this year compared to recent seasons, as there are still a few different scenarios that could come to fruition depending on how the upcoming games go on Championship Weekend.
Unlike the last two years that saw the Nittany Lions head to the Rose Bowl and the Fiesta Bowl, a New Year’s Six bowl appearance isn’t a guarantee. Penn State is ranked No. 12 in the most recent College Football Playoff rankings, but due to be idle this week, the Nittany Lions could drop out depending on how this weekend’s game shake out.
While still uncertain, it appears that if Penn State were to make it to a New Year’s Six game, it would most likely be the Peach Bowl in Atlanta. If that scenario falls through, then the Nittany Lions would probably be spending the new year in sunny Florida.
Regardless of the bowl that Penn State lands in, it appears the opponent will be from the SEC.
As mentioned, there are still some things that need to play out, but the VBR staff takes a crack at predicting both Penn State’s bowl game and the possible opponent.
Barry Leonard, Co-Site Expert
For a while, it seemed that despite losing three games, the Nittany Lions would still sneak into a New Year’s Six bowl game. As it stands right now, the Nittany Lions are ranked No. 12, meaning they would nab one of the coveted bowl berths.
Unfortunately, due to bowl tie-ins, I don’t see the Nittany Lions getting in. The only hope would be that Oklahoma beats Texas, and somehow gets jumped by Ohio State. A Texas win would land the Longhorns in the Fiesta Bowl, but Oklahoma would still likely stay ahead of Penn State.
Georgia beating Alabama would help the Nittany Lions, but I don’t see that happening.
It seems inevitable that Penn State will land in the Citrus Bowl. And, while it’s a bit disappointing, the Citrus Bowl is the biggest bowl outside of the New Year’s Six and will still match the Nittany Lions up with a quality opponent from the SEC.
If I had to bet, I’d say the Nittany Lions will head to Orlando to match up with Kentucky in the Citrus Bowl.
Collin Wieder, Co-Site Expert
I really would love to see Penn State football reach a third-straight New Years Six Bowl. Regardless, I think the Nittany Lions are just going to miss the cut after a 9-3 season.
I see head coach James Franklin and Penn State headed for either the Outback Bowl or the Citrus Bowl. Both have tie-ins versus quality SEC opponents.
Although it won’t be a NY6 bowl, a huge goal is in front of Penn State. If PSU can win its bowl game, it’ll give the team a third-straight 10-plus win season. A feat that hasn’t been accomplished since a stretch from 1980-1982.
Corey Hunter, Contributor
Penn State was ranked No. 12 in the penultimate playoff rankings. While that ranking would good enough to give the Nittany Lions a shot at New Year’s Six, bowl tie-ins and the potential of a Big Ten winner not making the playoff, could push the Lions out of the premier bowl slate.
Unless Ohio State is able reach the top-4 and make the playoff semifinals, I see the Nittany Lions traveling to sunny Orlando, Florida to play in the Citrus Bowl. Their opponent, a team from the SEC – most likely the Kentucky Wildcats. While a trip to the Citrus Bowl may not have the allure of New Year’s 6 Bowl, the matchup would give Penn State a strong opportunity to finish their season with their third consecutive 10-win season.
Blain Bradley, Contributor
Ideally, I’d love to see Penn State make it to the Peach Bowl, but chances seem slim. Lots will have to fall into place for this to happen (essentially, Oklahoma will need to beat Texas and NOT make it to the playoff. Gotta root for Ohio State to somehow get a four spot).
Let’s be real; it’s going to be the Citrus Bowl against Kentucky, which by all means, is a very good game, in terms of on-field talent. It’s not as attractive as a New Year’s Six game, but there will be plenty of NFL talent on the field, and it would be great to beat a strong SEC opponent.
Dylan Burd, Contributor
For the last couple of weeks, it seemed that there was a legitimate possibility that Penn State would sneak into a New Year’s Six bowl. However, after exhausting all scenarios, there’s now a very slim chance of this happening. Penn State getting into a New Year’s Six bowl would require Ohio State getting in over Oklahoma to the College Football Playoff. The kicker is that Oklahoma needs to also win their game vs Texas in the process.
If Oklahoma is already ranked over Ohio State in the rankings, there’s minimal chances that the Buckeyes would jump the Sooners if both teams win. The only way that it could happen is if Ohio State wins over Northwestern by 30-40 points, while Oklahoma wins in an extremely close game. Even then, I’m not sure the committee would move Ohio State over Oklahoma. If this scenario were to happen and Ohio State got in with Oklahoma winning, then Penn State would likely sneak in to the Peach Bowl against Florida or LSU, as Michigan would move up into the Rose Bowl.
The other scenario that would help Penn State get into a New Year’s Six bowl would be Georgia beating Alabama, with an Oklahoma win vs Texas. If this happens, both Georgia and Alabama would make the playoffs, and Florida would move up into the Sugar Bowl to play Oklahoma. This would open up an at-large spot, which I believe Penn State would take. This would likely lead to Penn State to playing LSU in the Peach Bowl.
While all of that is possible, it’s extremely unlikely. I’d put the chances at one of those scenarios happen at about 10 percent, maybe even less.
I keep mentioning the Oklahoma win as necessary, because if Texas wins the Big 12, then they will definitely be in a New Year’s Six Bowl, taking a spot from Penn State.
.Penn State is most likely going to play in the Citrus Bowl against the next best SEC team. The Citrus Bowl is the best bowl outside the New Year’s Six bowls. The next best SEC team would be Kentucky, who’s 9-3 just like Penn State. Penn State fans can hope for miracles on Saturday, but it’s extremely likely that the Nittany Lions will face off against the Kentucky Wildcats in the Citrus Bowl.