Penn State RB Saquon Barkley prepares to take the ball. Photo by: Michael Corsey @ Michael Corsey Photography

Guessing the best matchup for the Nittany Lions

By Tim Blasco

I can remember the local radio station that carries Penn State Football Games playing the same recorded message they have for years. “Penn State Nittany Lions are now BOWL ELIGIBLE!” I don’t think I can remember it being so warm out when I heard the message in Harrisburg. Usually it’s late into November when Penn State fans begin to hear that message. It was less than one month ago that Penn State fans were starting to get really excited. There’s still plenty to be excited about though.

The Playoff needs to be bigger, as in double its current size. Yes we all know that. It especially helps any Penn State fan’s argument for relevancy and they’re not wrong. It’s not going to happen for a while though.

There hasn’t been a 2 loss team to see the current 4 team playoff system in its history. No conference has ever sent 2 teams to the playoffs. One of those facts will change this year as Ohio State will probably make it to the College Football Playoffs as long as they manage to win out and beat Wisconsin. That remains to be seen.

Penn State will not make the Playoffs this year. I’m not saying they don’t deserve to be in the playoffs, I’m just saying they won’t be in. There’s just no conceivable algorithm for Penn State to make it. It’s sad but true; Penn State is going to play elsewhere. The loss to Ohio State combined with the injuries sustained during that game leaves them without hope for a bid in 2017.

Where will they play? The less likely outcome is that Penn State will play in the Peach Bowl vs. Central Florida. That is about the highest bowl they can hope for, provided the next 2 weeks sees no more surprises. It is possible that TCU or Washington fills that seat and Penn State looks elsewhere.

The Lions may see an even better matchup in the Cotton Bowl vs Notre Dame. Now that’s a game any alumni or fan would love to see. It’s very possible that Notre Dame beats Navy this weekend and sees some redemption to their season after a sound beating from Miami. I can only imagine the trash talk that will ensue and the interest that game will summons nationally for two historically iconic teams with large fan bases.

Here are some things that don’t help Penn State in the next 2 weeks. They don’t play any major powerhouses. Their showcase games are done. What if they put up a lot points against both Nebraska and Maryland? That won’t make much of a difference for them.

Some things that help their case are strength of schedule. They haven’t lost big with just an average of 2 points in either loss. When they played other ranked and formerly ranked teams like Michigan and Northwestern they put up big numbers. Ohio State’s sound beating of Michigan State puts them in the Big Ten Championship — and gets them a bid for Playoffs — but a win by Ohio State could support Penn State’s selection for a better bowl.

One thing is clear; Penn State has played an exciting season. They are young and their Offensive Line is still coming around. This recent experience in how a season can suddenly lose air will not soon be forgotten by anyone in Pennsylvania. Coach Franklin most likely put together a bowl bid and super season, his recruiting numbers won’t differ for it.

25 Nov 17 - Football, Penn State - admin - No Comments

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