No. 11 Penn State University faces No. 8 University of Utah, which is playing in its second consecutive Rose Bowl as the Pac-12 champion, on Monday afternoon at the 2 p.m. Rose Bowl Game.
The matchup is the first between the Penn State Nittany Lions and the Utah Utes.
“Both head coaches are looking for their first Rose Bowl victory, and in Utah’s case, it would mark a first Rose Bowl win for the program, too,” LA Times reported.
To get to the Rose Bowl Game, the Penn State Nittany Lions finished the regular season as the third highest ranked team from the Big 10 Conference.
“The Nittany Lions boast a strong 10-2 record, but they somehow accomplished it without beating a team currently ranked in the top 25. Their two losses, to College Football Playoff semifinal teams Michigan and Ohio State, were both by double digits,” the Times story said.
Penn State’s losses came to Michigan and Ohio State in the seventh and ninth weeks of the regular season, respectively.
Coaching the Nittany Lions is Head Coach James Franklin, who was named the 16th head football coach in the Nittany Lion program in January 2014. Franklin is one of five current FBS head coaches to lead his teams to a bowl game in each of his first nine seasons as a head coach.
He’s one of four current Big Ten coaches – with Ryan Day, Kirk Ferentz, and Jim Harbaugh – to have won a Big 10 Championship and became the first African American head coach to win a Big 10 title after Penn State’s 2016 victory.
Franklin owns an 91-49 career record, with a winning record in nine of 11 seasons at the helm.
“The best reason to believe in the trajectory of Penn State under Franklin at this point is his youthful backfield duo of Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen, who both have two years of eligibility left after this year.
Singleton rushed for 941 yards and 10 touchdowns, and Allen rushed for 830 yards and nine touchdowns,” LA Times said.
After winning their second straight Pac-12 championship, this will be the second Rose Bowl appearance for the Utes. Utah finished their regular season with a 9–3 overall record, 7–2 in Pac-12 play. Their losses came to Florida, UCLA, and Oregon.
Utah had defeated USC on Oct. 15 by a 43-42 score – USC’s only regular season loss – and defeated them again for the Pac-12 title, 47–24. The Utes will enter the Rose Bowl with an overall 10–3 record.
Utah quarterback and Southern California native Cameron Rising told The Times that he dreamed of winning the Rose Bowl while growing up in Ventura county.
“Rising is one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the country, and he’d love nothing more than to add a Rose Bowl victory to his resume.”
Fans will be eager to see how both teams replace the stars who opted out of Monday’s game.
“This year, Penn State quarterback Joey Porter Jr., Utah tight end Dalton Kincaid and Utah cornerback Clark Phillips III are all sitting, which certainly takes some of the fun out of the matchup,” LA Times wrote.
Kyle Whittingham is coaching the Utes in this game. Whittingham has held the position of head coach since 2005 and is the all-time leader in wins at Utah. Prior to becoming head coach, Whittingham served as Utah’s defensive coordinator for 10 seasons.
Whittingham is the longest tenured head coach in the PAC-12.