It all comes down to this.
Penn State is looking to end the 2017 season on a positive note when it plays Washington at 4 p.m. Saturday (ESPN) in the Fiesta Bowl. It doesn’t want to watch purple and gold confetti shooting out of cannons. It doesn’t want to send its seniors out with a loss. And it doesn’t want a repeat of the Rose Bowl.
So, to prepare for the final Penn State game until the spring (Countdown clock: 112 days), we’ve got you covered here with preview stories, features and whatever else a Nittany Lion fan could possibly be interested in:
Previews (Looking at the game from different angles)
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Washington wowed by Penn State’s ‘rare talent’ in Saquon Barkley: We’ll just let one player tell you his thoughts for now: “You don’t watch ESPN without hearing Saquon Barkley’s name.” Get ready to hear it a bit more Saturday.
Penn State football looking to Fiesta Bowl to make amends for last year’s Rose Bowl loss: Said James Franklin, “When you’re not successful in that last game, it leave a bad taste in your mouth and a lot of hurt feelings.”
What surprises does Washington have in store for Penn State football?: We talked with a Washington beat writer from the Tacoma News Tribune to get the inside scoop on the Huskies. What unsung player should we be watching? What kind of team are the Huskies? Who has the advantage?
Here’s what you should keep an eye on in the Penn State-Washington Fiesta Bowl: Five things to watch, from trick plays to Dante Pettis and everything in-between.
End of a trend? Penn State defense hoping to avoid familiar pass-rush woes: USC, Ohio State, Michigan State — it’s not hard to spot the trend. Penn State’s defense struggled. The secondary allowed a lot of yards. And a lot of that started with the lack of a pass-rush. Will Saturday’s game be any different?
Penn State defense awake at night preparing for Washington RB Myles Gaskin: Nineteen touchdowns might keep you up at night, too. “Super impressed with him,” Penn State’s defensive coordinator said.
Manny Bowen, Irvin Charles kicked off Penn State for team rule violations: It sure seemed as if this was a long time coming. These players were both give at least a second chance, and neither made the most of it.
With Manny Bowen’s dismissal, what will Penn State do at linebacker next season?: No Cabinda, no Bowen, no Smith. No ... problem? Not quite. Brent Pry knows he’s got other options, but he also knows 2018 isn’t going to come easy now.
Saquon Barkley not pondering NFL future until after Penn State’s bowl game: Sure, Saquon. We totally believe you haven’t made a decision yet. Totally. *Winky face*
Features (Getting to know the Nittany Lions)
Here’s why Miles Sanders is ‘ready’ to be the back at Penn State: Let’s stop pretending. This is Saquon Barkley’s last game, and Miles Sanders is going to be the back next season. He knows it, Saquon knows it, and you know it. So how’s he handling it? We ask him.
Do-everything Penn State QB Tommy Stevens still surprising with athleticism: Mike Gesicki’s first impression of Stevens? “We gave this kid a scholarship?” That’s since changed — for good reason.
Penn State safety Troy Apke’s long path to Fiesta Bowl started with a coach who saw offensive potential: Apke certainly isn’t the most heralded player on the team ... or the defense ... or, heck, even in the secondary. But the quiet-and-consistent starter has still proved invaluable to the Nittany Lions. And his path here all started because of his receiving ability.
Former Penn State OL Miles Dieffenbach: ‘I’ll never wish I went to school anywhere else’: The former offensive lineman looked back on his career and discussed former teammates and how the university impacted his life in the real world.
Miscellaneous (Other PSU stuff you might be interested in)
Have Pitt talks progressed? Will Beaver Stadium host a hockey game? AD Sandy Barbour offers updates: Barbour met up with reporters in Arizona to discuss a variety of topics. One of the highlights? She believes the College Football Playoff committee is sending “mixed signals.”
Penn State pep rally brings Happy Valley to the Valley of the Sun: About 7,000 Penn State fans showed up Friday for a pep rally. Here’s an inside look at how it went.
Former Penn State DT Jimmy Kennedy addresses CTE, mindset of a football player: Kennedy summed it up succinctly: “It’s ingrained in us not to complain.”
Overview of Penn State football’s 2018 recruiting class: The early signing period was good to the Nittany Lions — so take a look at each one of their 21 signees and what you can expect from them in the future.
Harrisburg’s Micah Parsons becomes one of highest-ranked recruits to ever commit to Penn State football: The linebacker-to-be could be a starter as a true freshman next season, and the excitement in downtown Harrisburg was palpable on Dec. 20 when he announced he was heading home.
Penn State football’s 2018 recruiting class includes an ‘extremely rare’ find: Lions 247’s Sean Fitz joined us for an in-depth Q&A to analyze Penn State’s recruiting class so far. Definitely worth a read if you’re looking for the inside scoop on the Lions of tomorrow.
Predictions (For Penn State-Washington and elsewhere in college football)
Fiesta Bowl: No. 11 Washington vs. No. 9 Penn State, 4 p.m. Dec. 30 (ESPN)
Ryne Gery: Washington 31-28
John McGonigal: Penn State 38-34
Josh Moyer: Penn State 35-30
Nate Cobler: Penn State 38-27
Gordon Brunskill: Penn State 29-27
TaxSlayer Bowl: Louisville vs. No. 23 Mississippi State, noon Dec. 30 (ESPN)
Ryne Gery: Mississippi State 35-27
John McGonigal: Louisville 45-21
Josh Moyer: Louisville 38-30
Nate Cobler: Louisville 40-30
Gordon Brunskill: Louisville 42-35
Liberty Bowl: Iowa State vs. No. 20 Memphis, 12:30 p.m. Dec. 30 (ABC)
Ryne Gery: Iowa State 42-31
John McGonigal: Memphis 52-31
Josh Moyer: Iowa State 33-30
Nate Cobler: Memphis 52-40
Gordon Brunskill: Memphis 34-30
Orange Bowl: No. 6 Wisconsin vs. No. 10 Miami, 8 p.m. Dec. 30 (ESPN)
Ryne Gery: Wisconsin 23-20
John McGonigal: Wisconsin 21-17
Josh Moyer: Wisconsin 24-20
Nate Cobler: Wisconsin 20-13
Gordon Brunskill: Wisconsin 23-20
Outback Bowl: Michigan vs. South Carolina, noon Jan. 1 (ESPN2)
Ryne Gery: Michigan 28-21
John McGonigal: South Carolina 17-13
Josh Moyer: Michigan 23-17
Nate Cobler: Michigan 27-20
Gordon Brunskill: Michigan 16-13
Peach Bowl: No. 12 UCF vs. No. 7 Auburn, 12:30 p.m. Jan. 1 (ESPN)
Ryne Gery: Auburn 30-23
John McGonigal: UCF 44-38
Josh Moyer: Auburn 42-38
Nate Cobler: Auburn 27-10
Gordon Brunskill: UCF 30-29
Citrus Bowl: No. 14 Notre Dame vs. No. 17 LSU, 1 p.m. Jan. 1 (ABC)
Ryne Gery: LSU 20-17
John McGonigal: LSU 20-17
Josh Moyer: LSU 27-26
Nate Cobler: Notre Dame 30-20
Gordon Brunskill: Notre Dame 20-18
Rose Bowl: No. 3 Georgia vs. No. 2 Oklahoma, 5 p.m. Jan. 1 (ESPN)
Ryne Gery: Oklahoma 35-31
John McGonigal: Georgia 27-19
Josh Moyer: Oklahoma 31-30
Nate Cobler: Oklahoma 30-21
Gordon Brunskill: Oklahoma 45-24
Sugar Bowl: No. 4 Alabama vs. No. 1 Clemson, 8:45 p.m. Jan. 1 (ESPN)
Ryne Gery: Alabama 27-24
John McGonigal: Clemson 28-17
Josh Moyer: Alabama 28-20
Nate Cobler: Alabama 20-13
Gordon Brunskill: Alabama 38-35
Standings: Ryne Gery 74-21, John McGonigal 74-21, Josh Moyer 73-22, Nate Cobler 73-22, Gordon 71-24