After reaching the Rose Bowl for the first time in program history last year, which ended in a classic, wild, disappointing 48-45 loss to Ohio State, Utah didn’t have to wait long to get another crack at The Granddaddy of Them All.

It became official Sunday afternoon — the No. 8 Utes will take on No. 11 Penn State in the 109th Rose Bowl Game on Jan. 2. 

Utah (10-3) earned a spot in the Rose Bowl with a convincing 47-24 victory over USC in the Pac-12 championship game Friday.

“We’re elated to be back in the Rose Bowl, the second trip in as many years. It was a great game last year vs. Ohio State. It went down to the wire and we came up on the short end, obviously. But our guys had a great experience,” coach Kyle Whittingham said during a teleconference Sunday afternoon.

“I’ve been to quite a few of the bowls, New Year’s Six Bowls, and the Rose Bowl is special. We’re going to travel well. Our fans are going to be showing up. We should have great support there. Our players are very excited to go back and have the experience again. We’re looking forward to the trip.”

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Under coach James Franklin, Penn State (10-2) suffered only two losses — at No. 2 Michigan (41-17) and at home against No. 4 Ohio State (44-31), two of the four teams in the College Football Playoff. 

The Nittany Lions are representing the Big Ten in place of league champion Michigan as the highest-ranked team from that conference not participating in the CFP. They received a berth in the Rose Bowl because both the Wolverines and Buckeyes qualified for the CFP. 

This season, Penn State beat Purdue, Ohio, Auburn, Central Michigan, Northwestern, Minnesota, Indiana, Maryland, Rutgers and Michigan State.

“Penn State is a tremendous opponent … They play great defense and they have a couple of really good backs, nearly 1,000 yards each. They do a lot of really good things,” Whittingham said. “It reminds me of us in a way, the way we approach the game and go about our business. Coach Franklin, I have all the respect in the world for him and what he’s done there … He’s a heckuva football coach. It’s going to be a big challenge for us and we’re excited to be there.”

This marks the first all-time meeting between Utah and Penn State.

It’s the Nittany Lions’ first Rose Bowl appearance since losing to USC 52-49 on Jan. 1, 2017. It’s Penn State’s fifth Rose Bowl berth all-time and its last Rose Bowl win came in 1995 with a victory over Oregon. 

“Truly appreciate the opportunity, the history and the tradition of the Rose Bowl speaks for itself. We had a phenomenal experience last time we were involved. Our players and staff could not be more excited about making the trip again,” Franklin said.

“Obviously, I have a ton of respect for the University of Utah and their history and tradition. Coach has done a phenomenal job there. I was able to watch their game the other night. What a great game for college football. They played so well and they really played well all season long … A really good football team, coached extremely well. An experienced, gutsy quarterback that’s a competitor. This is going to be a great game.”

Franklin added that Penn State has played every Pac-12 school except for Utah.

“It’s not too often in 2022 that you’re able to do things for the first-time ever,” he said. “That’s really cool.”

Utah is 11-4 in bowl games under Whittingham, which ranks No. 2 among active coaches and among the top 10 all-time. 

The Utes have played in three New Year’s Six Bowls, including last year’s Rose Bowl. Utah beat Pittsburgh 35-7 in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl and defeated Alabama 31-17 in the 2009 Sugar Bowl. 

The Utes will try to avoid becoming the first Pac-12 team to lose back-to-back Rose Bowls since USC in 1988 and 1989.

With a No. 8 ranking, this is the seventh time Utah has appeared in the final CFP poll. It’s the highest final CFP ranking the Utes have earned since finishing No. 11 in 2019 and 2021. 

Penn State ranks No. 20 nationally in scoring offense (35.8 ppg) and No. 10 in scoring defense (18 ppg). 

Senior quarterback Sean Clifford has completed 210 of 330 passes for 2,543 yards with 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions. 

The Nittany Lions boast a pair of talented freshmen running backs with Nicholas Singleton, who has rushed for 941 yards and 10 touchdowns, and Kaytron Allen, who has run for 830 yards and nine TDs. 

Penn State’s defense is led by safety Ji’Ayir Brown, who has recorded a team-high 50 tackles and three interceptions. Linebacker Abdul Carter has a team-high 6.5 sacks. 

“We are thrilled our storied Penn State football program will participate the 109th Rose Bowl,” Penn State athletic director Patrick Kraft said in a statement. “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.”

For Utah fans, tickets to the Rose Bowl will be sold through priority windows based on annual contribution to the Crimson Club, according to the school.

Ticket limits are not guaranteed and subject to change. 

The ticket office will coordinate with the Rose Bowl Game to secure as many tickets as possible and anticipates being able to offer tickets to Crimson Club members at annual giving levels 11-1, just as in 2021.

For more information fans can reach out to the Utah Ticket Office at 801-581-8849 (call or text) or to their assigned development officer.

Rose Bowl Game

No. 8 Utah (10-3) vs. No. 11 Penn State (10-2)

Jan. 2, 3 p.m. MST

Rose Bowl

Pasadena, California


Radio: ESPN 700