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New bowl projections put 2 Big Ten teams in the CFP. Is Penn State football one of them?

How close is Penn State football to making the Playoff in these latest bowl projections?



Penn State football, CFP, Big Ten, bowl projections
Oct 27, 2018; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions cornerback Amani Oruwariye (21) leads his team onto the field carrying the American flag prior to a game against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Since January, the Penn State football team has become a popular darkhorse pick (if such a thing can exist) to make the College Football Playoff (CFP) in 2023. This trend has thus far been reflected in the early preseason rankings, with the Nittany Lions knocking on the door of the four-team Playoff in many polls. But will Penn State actually make the CFP? One popular college football analyst recently put together bowl projections for the 2023 season, and while two Big Ten teams are predicted to make the Playoff, Penn State may be on the outside looking in.

New projections put two Big Ten teams in the CFP, Penn State football to the Orange Bowl

Recently, Bill Bender and The Sporting News compiled their projections for every bowl game at the end of the 2023 season, including the two CFP semifinal games and the national championship. Although Bender predicts two current Big Ten teams to make the CFP, Penn State wasn’t one of them. 

The Sporting News predicts a rematch of last year’s epic Peach Bowl in one semifinal, with Georgia taking on Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl. The other semifinal would be a preview for a future Big Ten conference game, with Michigan and USC squaring off in the Rose Bowl. In this model, the CFP championship game ultimately would be another rematch – this time from 2021 – with Georgia and Michigan facing off for the title.

As for Penn State, Bender puts James Franklin’s squad in the Orange Bowl against fellow CFP darkhorse Florida State. “The Nittany Lions and Seminoles both are popular CFP picks in 2023,” Bender writes. “The Seminoles are coming off a 10-win season, and Jordan Travis leads an offense that averaged 36.1 points per game. The Nittany Lions are looking to break through in the Big Ten with an offense led by Drew Allar and Nick Singleton and a defense ready to challenge Ohio State and Michigan. James Franklin is 3-1 in New Year’s Day Six games.”

Although Penn State is on the outside of the CFP in this latest bowl projection, it’s encouraging to see the Nittany Lions trending in the right direction at this time of the year. It’s only July, and there’s a lot of football to be played between now and the CFP selections. But Penn State has a talented roster with playmakers spread across the field. This season is James Franklin’s last, and perhaps best, chance of making the four-team Playoff. We’ll see if the Nittany Lions can get it done in 2023.

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Matt is a co-owner and Editor in Chief of Basic Blues Nation. Launched in 2022, Basic Blues Nation is one of the fastest-growing websites covering all Penn State athletics, with over 3.5 million readers in 2023. Matt is also a credentialed member of the Penn State football beat, and is a member of the Football Writers Association of America.


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