Penn State’s 2017 regular season is officially in the books. Following a 66-3 throttling of Maryland, the Nittany Lions stand at 10-2 and currently at #10 in the eyes of the committee. Now the only thing to do is wait until the dust settles during conference championship weekend and the bowl games are announced on Sunday.
Which opponent are you hoping for as we wait to see Penn State’s bowl destination in the coming days? Let’s take a quick look at some of the possible teams who are in a similar situation as Penn State- good enough to be selected to a New Year’s Six bowl, but on the outside looking in at the playoffs.
Loser of the SEC Championship (Auburn/Georgia)- This would probably be the highest ranked opponent for Penn State, and would create a match-up between two storied programs that would generate plenty of national buzz. However, would Penn State be able to handle either team in the trenches? Both would be a tough out for the Nittany Lions.
Loser of the ACC Championship (Clemson/Miami)- Drawing the defending national champion would be fun, but Clemson’s defensive line would give Penn State fits. Miami seems much more likely to be on the losing end on Saturday, but with the way this season has gone, who knows? A Penn State-Miami game would feature two top 10 teams with many flashbacks of the epic Fiesta Bowl where the Nittany Lions pulled one of the biggest upsets in college football history to become the 1986 national champions.
USC- How about a rematch from last year’s incredible Rose Bowl, which USC won in dramatic fashion in a 52-49 barnburner? Both teams return their core players from a year ago, so the probability of more fireworks would be high.
Central Florida- UCF is one of just two undefeated teams (Wisconsin being the other), but will not receive playoff consideration for being outside of the power five conferences. While this could be an intriguing game, there’s not much for Penn State to gain. A win will just be seen as a game Penn State should have won, while a loss will leave the naysayers saying Penn State was overrated and will plummet in the final polls. It’s not fair, but that’s life for teams outside of the Power 5.
Alabama- Do we want ‘Bama? This year’s version of the Tide aren’t nearly as fearsome as recent editions, and I actually think this could make for a very entertaining game. However, when it’s all said and done it seems likely a one-loss Alabama squad will have a spot in the playoffs- but the Tide will need some help, most notably by having Ohio State hand Wisconsin their first loss in Indianapolis on Saturday.
TCU- While the Horned Frogs can put up points, they have also proven they can win with defense. This would be an intriguing match-up when you look at the teams on paper, but it wouldn’t have the same buzz as Penn State-Georgia, Penn State-Miami, etc.
Notre Dame- The Irish may be out of the NY6 after losing its third game of the season at the hands of Stanford on Saturday. However, Notre Dame is a big draw so they should still be considered to be in play. Penn State hasn’t faced off with the Irish in a decade, so this match-up would generate plenty of excitement for the fan base and make for great television. Plus, how much fun would it be to cause another Brian Kelly sideline tantrum?
So what say you, BSD reader? Do you have a specific bowl opponent in mind? Who is it and why do you want Penn State to play them?