Penn State to meet Utah at the Rose Bowl

Joe Reedy
The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — The first meeting between Utah and Penn State will take place in the 109th edition of the Rose Bowl on Jan. 2.

The seventh-ranked Utes (10-3, No. 8 CFP) are making their second consecutive appearance in the Granddaddy of Them All after their 47-24 victory over Southern California in the Pac-12 championship game Friday. Utah's hopes of defending its conference title appeared to be over after a Nov. 19 loss to Oregon, but it made it to Las Vegas after the Ducks lost at Oregon State and Washington defeated Washington State.

It will be Utah’s fourth appearance in a New Year’s Six Bowl. The Utes lost to Ohio State 48-45 in the third-highest-scoring Rose Bowl in history on Jan. 1. They defeated Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl to conclude the 2004 season and beat Alabama in the 2009 Sugar Bowl.

Utah is led by quarterback Cam Rising. The junior was named the Most Valuable Player of the Pac-12 championship game after passing for 310 yards and three touchdowns.

No. 9 Penn State (10-2, No. 11 CFP) is making the trip to Pasadena for the first time since the 2016 season after Big Ten champion Michigan and Ohio State were selected for the College Football Playoff. Even if the Buckeyes had not qualified for the CFP, the Tournament of Roses committee appeared set to take the Nittany Lions so that Ohio State would not appear for the third time in five years.

Penn State has won four straight by an average of 31.3 points after a 44-31 loss to Ohio State on Oct. 29. It is led by sixth-year quarterback Sean Clifford, who has passed for 22 touchdowns.

This could be the final Rose Bowl to feature the traditional Big Ten vs. Pac-12 format. The game will be one of the CFP semifinals on Jan. 1, 2024, and will be a quarterfinal game for the 2024 season after it agreed to amend its contract in order for the playoff field to expand to 12 teams.