Penn State to play in Rose Bowl against Pac-12 champion Utah Utes

Abby Drey/

Penn State is headed back to a New Year’s Six game for the first time since 2019.

The Nittany Lions will head to Pasadena, California, where they’ll take on the Utah Utes in the Rose Bowl at 5 p.m. on Jan. 2.

The participants in the game were announced Sunday afternoon.

Penn State’s trip to the game comes after the program went 10-2 this season with its losses coming against the Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan Wolverines — who will both be in the College Football Playoff.

The last time the Nittany Lions went to Pasadena was in the 2016 season, the lone year they won the Big Ten title under head coach James Franklin.

Franklin thanked the committee for choosing the Nittany Lions in a statement.

“I want to thank the Rose Bowl Committee for the invitation to one of college football’s most prestigious and historic bowl games,” Franklin said. “Playing in the Rose Bowl is truly a special way to close out this season with a team, staff and fan base that has stuck together and trusted the process all year. I look forward to ringing in the New Year in Pasadena with our passionate fans filling the Rose Bowl stadium January 2.”

Penn State athletic director Pat Kraft expressed his excitement in his statement.

“We are thrilled our storied Penn State football program will participate (in) the 109th Rose Bowl,” Kraft said. “I am so proud of our student-athletes, coaches and staff for the hard work they have put in this season to earn the reward of a trip to The Granddaddy of Them All. The Rose Bowl has such a rich history, and I can’t think of a better way to cap a terrific season and send our seniors off with a special memory. I know Nittany Nation will be excited to head to Pasadena to start the New Year.”

Their opponent is the back-to-back Pac-12 champion Utes who finished the season 10-3 and capped it off with a win over USC in the conference title game that knocked the Trojans out of playoff consideration.

Penn State’s last appearance in a New Year’s Six bowl was the Cotton Bowl against Memphis in 2019 — quarterback Sean Clifford’s first year as a starter.