After weeks without our beloved Penn State football, Blue and White fans rejoice over the fact that this weekend, Penn State will take on the University of Washington in the Fiesta Bowl.
The Fiesta Bowl, held in Glendale, Arizona, is known as one of the better bowls for college teams to compete in. Penn State is no stranger to the Fiesta Bowl, having defeated Miami 14-10 during the Lions’ undefeated season in 1987.
This year, although not undefeated, Penn State looks to put up a fierce challenge for the Washington Huskies, who are 10-2 and second in the PAC-12. Last year, Washington struggled against No. 1 Alabama in the Peach Bowl and lost, 7-24.
The aggressive yet tactical styles of both Penn State and Washington will make for an exciting battle on December 30.
Senior and tight end Mike Gesicki (Manahawkin, N.J.) noted that this year more than ever, he hopes to help his team to a bowl game victory.
“Walking off the field last year, the one thing that kind of sticks with me is I just remember the sound of the confetti shooting behind us and it was their colors coming down. That kind of stuck with me throughout the offseason,” commented Gesicki. “We are still just focused on Penn State and us improving, but coming up here pretty soon we are going to start focusing on [Washington]… They are big, they are fast and they are athletic. They are not ranked No. 11 for no reason.”
Head Coach James Franklin echoed Gesicki’s thoughts about being hungry for a bowl game win, yet maintaining the humility and focus that has become the norm for the Penn State squad.
“Obviously, you always want to end on a positive note,” said Coach Franklin. “I do think there is some momentum that kind of leads you into the next year, and I think that’s tied to the whole bowl experience: the extra practices, the extra time and just the good vibes of going away to a different environment for your players to experience.”
Coach Franklin and the team arrived in Arizona this past week and have already hit the turf to start practicing in the Arizona heat, which is currently sitting in the high 70s. For reference, State College is sitting in the low teens.
There is always much to talk about when it comes to who will be present at the bowl game.
Saquon Barkley (Coplay, Pa.) has promised to be ready to play for the Fiesta Bowl, and is not talking about his future until after the game.
Linebacker Manny Bowen (Barnegat, N.J.), who has been a mainstay in Linebacker U, will not be playing in the Fiesta Bowl this year for undisclosed reasons.
Fans can also be on the lookout for recently-hired Special Teams Coordinator Phil Galiano to make his debut.
Galiano comes to Penn State from Rutgers, where he served as the special team’s coordinator and tight ends coach. Galiano also has NFL experience, spending the 2016 season as a special teams intern for the Miami Dolphins.
This game will undoubtedly be one of the most exciting during the 2017 bowl season and will air on ESPN at 2 p.m. MST (4 p.m. ET). Where is everyone planning on watching from, Nittany Nation? Be sure to share your photos with us if you’ll be at the game!