Both teams are coming off impressive seasons, both finishing with a 10-2 record. Washington continues to struggle in close road games, falling at Stanford and Arizona State this season.
The Nittany Lions lost a chance at the CFP with consecutive losses to Ohio State and No. 24 Michigan State, but ended up in a familiar place: The Fiesta Bowl, where they had not lost in six previous trips. Middle linebacker Jason Cabinda led Penn State with 84 tackles, while the secondary was paced by senior Marcus Allen. He was at his best on third down, with the Nittany Lions converting 13-of-17 such situations.
All four games feature marquee players.
Don't forget, also, that PSU special teams coordinator Charles Huff left to join Joe Moorhead's staff at Mississippi State, so that could lead to an issue here or there for the Lions.More news: Iranians protest at corrupt clerics as inflation soars
"I think every team that makes some of these bigger bowl games that aren't in the playoffs wish they were in the playoff", Washington quarterback Jake Browning said. The Lions rotate a lot of linemen in and out all game, so having fresh guys in during the fourth quarter could be a big factor.
Penn State enters the Fiesta Bowl with a with an unblemished 6-0 mark all-time. We weren't expecting to have bowl games for a long time.
"They're tough up front, and it's going to be a mentality thing", Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley said. However, when Pettis sprinted toward the sideline and looked to extend the play with a lateral after he crossed the 50, he tossed the ball right into the arms of Penn State's Brandon Smith, sealing a 1-8 bowl season for the Pac-12. "We're going to have to change our mindset a little bit to have to grind out some tough running yardage".
The Rose Bowl is hosting one of the national semi-finals contests, but had it not, the match-up of Penn State versus Washington would have made a compelling choice under the annual Big Ten / Pac-12 system. Both Huskies' scores came via a major Penn State mistake, as they scored first on a Browning one-yard touchdown run set up in part by a roughing the passer penalty earlier in the drive, and then later after McSorley's backward pass failed to reach Sanders, which led to a turnover and short field for head coach Chris Petersen's team. The loser will have dropped two in a row, that frustrating feeling lingering for another year.