Penn State’s Rose Bowl chances received a slight boost Saturday with a surprise SEC result, though that game may have also blocked the Lions’ path to other New Year’s 6 Bowls.
Penn State continued its climb into the top 10 with a 55-10 win over Rutgers on Saturday, a game in which the Lions had 48 unanswered points after a slow start. Penn State (9-2) has three straight wins since losing to Ohio State, which will play an important role in the future of the Lions’ Bowl. Just like another game last weekend.
Unranked South Carolina’s impressive 63-38 win over No. 5 Tennessee turned the SEC’s chances of qualifying two teams to the College Football Playoffs on its head. It also opened the door for the Big Ten to do the same. Next week’s game between Ohio State and Michigan will have a big impact on the playoffs and therefore the playoffs. Penn State’s bowl future
So how do Penn State’s bowl opportunities look in the final week of the regular season? Here’s a look that assumes the Lions defeat Michigan State to end the regular season 10-2.
- When: January 2nd
- Where: Pasadena, California
- Match: Big Ten versus Pac-12
- Something to see: To reach the Rose Bowl, Penn State needs Ohio State and Michigan in the playoffs. That possibility improved with South Carolina’s knockout of Tennessee, likely eliminating the Vols from playoff contention. To solidify that path, Penn State could also capitalize on losses from TCU and/or USC in the coming weeks. And maybe a Michigan win over Ohio State in The Game.
- When: Dec 30
- Where: Miami Gardens, Fla
- Match: ACC vs. the highest-ranked team in the SEC/Big Ten/Notre Dame
- Something to see: What will the CFP committee do with Tennessee this week? That’s a crucial question for the Lions’ NY6 chances. It is possible that four SEC teams (Georgia, LSU, Tennessee and Alabama) will still be placed ahead of Penn State. Even if that three is after the SEC title game, the conference bowl breakdown could look like this: Georgia to the playoffs, Tennessee to the Sugar Bowl, and Alabama to the Orange Bowl. It would be huge for Penn State to see Tennessee below in Tuesday’s rankings. LSU could still mess things up by beating Georgia in the SEC title game.
- When: January 2nd
- Where: Arlington, Texas
- Match: Highest ranked overall vs. Highest ranked group of five team
- Something to see: If the Lions are number 10 on Tuesday or ahead of Tennessee, their Cotton Bowl odds increase. Penn State must be the highest-ranking team at large in two weeks to return to the Cotton Bowl. That’s fluid, however, given the potential for surprises in conference title games. A Cotton Bowl bid also requires a Big Ten team in the playoffs.
- When: Jan 2
- Where: Orlando
- Match: Big Ten vs. SEC
- Something to see: This is Penn State’s standard bowl regardless of whether it wins next week. The Lions end up in Orlando if a Big Ten team and an SEC team make the playoffs with Tennessee/LSU/Alabama ahead.
Penn State hosts Michigan State on November 26 for Senior Day at Beaver Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. ET on FS1.
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AllPennState is Penn State’s place for news, opinions and perspectives on the SI.com network. Editor Mark Wogenrich has covered Penn State for more than 20 years, tracking three coaching staffs, three Big Ten titles and a catalog of great stories. Follow him on Twitter @ Mark Wogenrich. And subscribe to more great content on the SI.com network (buttons on the home page).