Sep 10, 2014 02:41 PM EDT
The Penn State Nittany Lions can now play in a bowl game thanks to the NCAA lifting part of its historic sanctions, but now the question is, will they? And which one?
The Lions are currently 144 votes behind BYU for the bottom spot in the AP top 25 rankings, but they have 10 weeks to make their climb. They can also benefit from a wounded Ohio State team that will have to play without Braxton Miller under center.
Penn State still has some potential roadblocks that have remained despite the NCAA immediately lifting the football team's bowl ban. For example, they will get back all 85 athletic scholarships next season, which serves them no good as of now.
After a few seasons with reduced scholarships, Penn State may have benefited from savvy recruiting from Bill O'Brien and James Franklin, but they are still not nearly as deep as their Big Ten competitors.
But Penn State has a favorable schedule and a good enough team to win when they are not firing on all cylinders, as was the case in their sloppy 21-3 win over Akron. Media outlets and the Big Ten itself is playing up Saturday's matchup with Rutgers, CBS Sports noted, making it an important game for both sides.
The Big Ten network will be on site for the 8 p.m. game, conference commissioner Jim Delany will be too, as will representatives of the Rose, Orange, Capital One and TaxSlayer.com Bowls. Penn State is 22-2 against Rutgers and Saturday's game, though on the road, is definitely winnable.
After Rutgers, Penn State has two straight home games against UMass and Northwestern before going to Ann Arbor to play Michigan. Fortunately enough, Penn State's two toughest matchups will be at home, with Ohio State coming to Happy Valley Oct. 25 and Michigan State on Nov. 29, to close out the season.
If Penn State can somehow take the Big Ten East from the favored Michigan State and Ohio State, then they would likely see Nebraska or Wisconsin for the conference title. As the hypothetical Big Ten champ, Penn State could hypothetically play for the Rose Bowl.
Even without any sanctions over the last few years, that is a tall order, so can Penn State get into a bowl game? Sure. Will that bowl game be the Rose? Unlikely, but how about the Orange.© 2017 University Herald, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.