Penn State Faithful Unite In Arizona

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Washington tried a hook and lateral play on a fourth down and wide receiver Dante Pettis inexplicably threw the ball to a Penn State player instead of running out of bounds with five seconds left.

Three quick thoughts from No. 9 Penn State's 35-28 win over No. 11 Washington in a Fiesta Bowl that saw the Huskies have a dramatic comeback fall short. This season he corralled 47 passes for 594 yards including three touchdowns. The first game of the day is the TaxSlayer Bowl, which has Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson. After all, the Nittany Lions rank seventh in the nation in scoring offense, while Washington comes in at No. 6 overall in scoring defense. The game is commemorated across Penn State's football offices, though Franklin said that memorabilia won't motivate the Lions this week. The Huskies enter as the fifth best team in total defense (tops in the Pac-12), allowing just 277 yards per game. "But a two-loss teams, it's really hard to make it".

Both teams had 10-win regular seasons, but neither was impressive when it came to Vegas. The Nittany Lions can get away with that against a lot of Big Ten teams with weak passing games, but failing to get to the QB is what led to both losses this season (against Ohio State and Michigan State). The Huskies fell to Alabama in the playoff, and Penn State fell to USC in a wild Rose Bowl. The game was memorable for Petersen's collection of trick plays, which led to a huge upset and an on-field marriage proposal for one of his players.

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In this matchup, the lights will be brightest in Penn State's backfield.

Barkley is a junior, but could decide to leave for the NFL.

Washington will lose two offensive line starters and receiver/punt returner Pettis to graduation, but gets back most of its defense.

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Penn State's defense, for a time, was one of the nation's best.

Likewise, Petersen is reticent to bring up the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, when his Boise State team defeated Oklahoma 43-42 in overtime. Penn State star running back Saquon Barkley will play in this game after some speculation he may not because of his leaving for the National Football League draft.

Similarities tend only to go so far in college football, especially when teams from opposite ends of the country, who are members of fundamentally different conferences, who haven't played each other in 34 years, are being compared.

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