Penn State took care of business on Black Friday, defeating Michigan State 42-0. The win was the Lions’ tenth of the season, securing back-to-back double-digit win seasons for the first time since 2016-2017.
Now we wait to see where the Lions will play in their bowl game, and against whom.
For starters, they are positioned well heading into championship week. PSU had been ranked #11 by the playoff committee, but with #10 Louisville losing, they figure to slot into the top 10.
That’s important because one of the New Year’s Six auto bids goes to the highest-ranked Group of 5 conference champion. While they need to play their championship game still, no G5 team is ranked ahead of the Lions - which means whoever it is will bump the #12 team out of an at-large bid.
Barring utter chaos breaking out - #17 Iowa upsetting #3 Michigan, or #20 Oklahoma State upsetting #7 Texas - the Lions appear to be in very good position to claim an at-large bid for a NY6 game.
But where? And against whom?
The bowl I’ve heard the most is the Peach Bowl, which would be fun. PSU has never played in the Peach Bowl, so there’s a novelty factor. It’s an east coast game, making it a manageable trip for fans.
It also so happens that if the Lions were to play in and win the Peach Bowl, they’d be the first team to collect all six NY6 trophies, thus allowing James Franklin to complete the NY6 Gauntlet and snap his fingers to hire the best offensive coordinator in Penn State history.
As for opponent, there seems to be two main theories floating out there. First would be the G5 auto-bid. Currently, #23 Tulane would earn that bid, though they have to play SMU for the AAC title. #25 Liberty is next up, and they play New Mexico State in the C-USA championship. Neither win is a given, but those two teams lead the charge for the G5. Penn State last played a G5 team in a NY6 bowl when they defeated Memphis 53-39 in the Cotton Bowl in 2019.
The other most likely opponent seems to be the loser of the Pac-12 title game between #4 Washington and #6 Oregon. The winner has a strong playoff resume, leaving the runner up as a solid bowl team.
What say you? Peach sounds fun to me, and while a showdown against a west coast P5 team sounds fun, I wouldn’t hate a slightly easier path to 11 wins and securing the sixth and final NY6 trophy.
All we have to do is wait! This time next week we’ll know where the Lions are playing and against whom.