That said, James Franklin should still have a hat tipped in his direction from bringing PSU back from the depths of the Jerry Sandusky scandal to back-to-back New Year's Six bowl games. The foe this year is the Washington Huskies in the Fiesta Bowl.Fiesta Bowl – Washington Huskies vs. Penn State Nittany LionsDate and Time
: Saturday, December 30, 2017, 4 p.m. ETLocation
: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZOpening Fiesta Bowl Odds
: Penn State -3Fiesta Bowl TV Coverage
When you look back at it, Penn State was really only a collapse against Ohio State away from having a shot to play for the Big Ten title. The Nittany Lions would have probably beaten Wisconsin and would probably be playing against Clemson in the College Football Playoff.
Revisionist history is fun, but college football is about results, and Penn State didn't get the results that it needed this year.
There's nothing to hold heads over, though. Saquon Barkley had a fantastic season as a kick returner, a runner and a receiver. All told, Barkley finished with 2,190 all-purpose yards and will likely end up in New York as a Heisman Trophy finalist.
Trace McSorley was a Heisman candidate for a while as well. He's not nearly as talented as Barkley and won't be playing at the next level, but there's no shame in accounting for 37 total touchdowns in a season.
Washington was never favored to get back to the College Football Playoff for a second straight season, but it was in the mix for a while. A loss to Stanford turned out to be the last straw, though, as that came on the heels of an embarrassing loss to Arizona State that ended the season.
Jake Browning once again had really solid numbers, throwing for 2,844 yards and 18 touchdowns, but the contingent in Seattle almost acts as if it can't wait to get rid of him.
The Huskies had the best defense by a country mile in the Pac-12 this season, allowing just 14.5 points per game.
The Apple Cup proved to be a devastating game for Washington on the injury front. The Huskies lost both Lavon Coleman and Dante Pettis in that game to injuries. Chris Petersen has gone so far to say that he's "hopeful" that both men will be able to play in the Fiesta Bowl, but there is no timetable for either one to return.
Pettis is a particularly huge force. He's one of the best punt returners in the history of college football, and his play at the receiver position is huge for Browning's success.
If Coleman has to sit, that will really thin out this backfield. Myles Gaskin is obviously the workhorse of the bunch after running for 1,282 yards and 19 touchdowns this year, but Coleman carved out a nice niche and was good for seven or eight touches almost every game.
Fiesta Bowl Free Picks
Penn State is going to be the popular team to ride with in this one, but we're not sure that's founded. The Nittany Lions are probably deserving favorites at the top NCAA football sportsbooks, but they really didn't play all that well in most of their big games.
PSU was thoroughly outplayed by Michigan State and was really largely outplayed by Ohio State as well outside of a spectacular few plays by Barkley.
U-Dub struggled at times down the stretch, and it might prove to be overmatched in this game as it was last year against Alabama in the national semifinal. That said, this is a team that crunched Washington State and Oregon at home and dismantled good team after good team this year. There were some blips, and this might be one, too, but we trust this defense to slow down Barkley and McSorley to win the Fiesta Bowl.
Fiesta Bowl ATS Pick: Washington +3 at BookMaker.eu
Fiesta Bowl Score Prediction: Washington 38, Penn State 23