The Rose Bowl Preview: Penn State vs Utah


Marcus Villarroel '26, Writer

The Rose Bowl Game

The Rose Bowl Game is an annual American college football bowl game, usually played on January 1st at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. The Rose Bowl Game is the oldest currently operating bowl game and is widely regarded as the most prestigious bowl game in the country. The Rose Bowl Game has traditionally hosted the conference champions from the Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences (or their predecessors). The Champion of the Pac-12 conference will play against the champion of the Big-10 conference in a huge bowl game on national television in front of 90,000 in Pasadena, California. 

“The Rose Bowl Game has traditionally hosted the conference champions from the Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences (or their predecessors). Beginning in 2015, the Rose Bowl has been part of the College Football Playoff (CFP) as one of the New Year’s Six bowls—the top six major bowl games in the national championship system—hosting one of the semifinal games every three years. During non-CFP years, the Rose Bowl reverts to its traditional Pac-12/Big Ten matchup(in this case Utah vs Penn State), unless the champions from those conferences are selected to play in the College Football Playoff.” This is the case for this year as Michigan won the Big 10 Conference by beating Purdue in the Big 10 Championship. They went to the College Football Playoff as the Number 2 Seed in the country. Ohio State also qualified for the playoff and earned their spot as the 4 seed. Therefore making Penn State the highest-ranking college football team from the Big 10, is not in the college football playoff.


Utah Utes Road to the Rose Bowl

The Utah Utes were invited to the 2023 Rose Bowl because they had a record of 10 wins and 3 losses throughout the 2022 College Football Season. They had a 9-3 record coming into the Pac-12 Championship, and a win against USC would send them to the Rose Bowl. They did just that, they destroyed a USC team with a hobbled QB and booked their spot in the Rose Bowl because they were the Pac-12 Champion. USC suffered 3 losses throughout the season, being to Florida, UCLA, and Oregon. Three very quality teams and a very respectable record going into this Bowl game. They were in the game late against Oregon with a tie ball game going into the fourth quarter however, Oregon kicked a decisive field goal that proved to be the game-winner. Utah again had a lead in their season opener against Florida, but in the fourth quarter, they blew it, with a game-winning touchdown by Florida. Their game against UCLA was very close, much closer than the final score indicates, they were, however, torched by the UCLA offense giving up 42 points; which is not a good formula for winning on the road in College Football. Their most notable wins have been against No.7 USC twice, once in the regular season, and again; in the Pac-12 Championship. They are ranked No.7 by the AP poll, No.10 by the Coaches, and No.8 by the NCAA rankings. They come into the Rose Bowl eager for an 11th win, and a great season, had this team not lost to Florida and UCLA, we could have seen them in the CFP.

Penn State Nittany Lions Road to the Rose Bowl

The Penn State Nittany Lions were invited to the 2023 Rose Bowl because they had a record of 10 wins and 2 losses throughout the 2023 College Football Season. They had a 10-2 record coming into the conference championship weekend but did not play due to placing third in the Big 10 East. They lost to two teams throughout the season, No.2 Michigan, and No.4 Ohio State, two very respectful losses and to the 2 Big 10 teams in the College Football Playoff. They have zero wins against ranked opponents, and their best win was against Auburn way back when. Penn State had a lead against Ohio State in Happy Valley but was unable to keep it as Ohio State pulled it out late. They were blown out by Michigan earlier this year and it was not close. Some doubters had Penn State in the Citrus Bowl, however; Penn State beat Rutgers to increase their odds of an NY6 Bowl, and with Tennesee losing to Spencer Rattler and South Carolina, the door opened up; Clemson also lost to South Carolina, further opening up the door for them. Penn State beat Michigan State and that was that, with USC and TCU losing, made it for Ohio State and Michigan to enter the College Football Playoff. Triggering Penn State into the Rose Bowl for being the best Big 10 Team. They come into the Rose Bowl looking to cap off a great season, and had it not been for the 4th Quarter in Happy Valley against Ohio State, they may have been able to have a spot in the playoff.


This game will be one for the ages. It’s very hard to predict a football game, especially one of this magnitude and importance. James Franklin has been repeatedly criticized for not being able to perform against Top 10 opponents in College Football, and it just so happens that Utah is a Top 10 opponent that they are facing in a pretty big matchup. Penn State will have its moments, taking a late lead in the 4th quarter. But, Utah will tie things up with a field goal in the final seconds and send the game to overtime. With the game tied at 31 all in the 109th Rose Bowl, Utah will get the ball first; but they will fail to get a touchdown and settle for a field goal to put them up 3 in the first overtime. However, Penn State will receive the ball, march down the field, and Sean Clifford will throw his final touchdown pass for Penn State in the Rose Bowl, in front of 90,000 and Penn State will win the Rose Bowl, giving them their first Top 10 College Football win this season and silencing the doubters, and capping off an 11 win season for Penn State, many said they shouldn’t have been here and even said they could be at the Citrus Bowl. The fans celebrate into the night as the fireworks go off in Pasadena, for the last traditional Rose Bowl matchup because of the CFP Expansion in 2024. 

Utah Utes 34 Penn State Nittany Lions 37