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The Rose Bowl has a long, storied tradition, which is why it’s also known as “The Granddaddy of Them All.” 

But as college football changes, traditions are changing, too.

With the College Football Playoff expanding to 12 teams in 2024, the Rose Bowl game organizers informed CFP officials last week that they are willing to alter agreements for the first two years of the expanded playoff.

The Rose Bowl prefers a traditional Pac-12 vs. Big Ten matchup whenever possible. However, to accommodate the new 12-team format, the Rose Bowl would need to host a quarterfinal in its traditional New Year’s Day time slot. 

And next year, before the playoff expands, the Rose Bowl is serving as a semifinal game along with the Sugar Bowl. 

So that means that this year’s showdown between No. 8 Utah and No. 11 Penn State will be the last traditional Pac-12 vs. Big Ten matchup. 

That fact is not lost on Utah coach Kyle Whittingham and Penn State coach James Franklin. 

“From our perspective, I grew up in the shadow of the Rose Bowl in Southern California. What a great tradition. I look forward to it every single year. Things are changing,” Whittingham said Sunday. “There’s going to be major changes in my opinion — huge changes in college football. It’s going to be pretty much unrecognizable in the next five to six years compared to what it is now.

“We’re excited to be able to play in the Rose Bowl in traditional fashion in the traditional time slot. We’re elated to be there. The Rose Bowl experience last year was tremendous. We expect more of the same this year.”

Franklin is taking his Nittany Lions squad to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 2017. 

“When you talk about the college landscape, it has changed. We’re going to be looking at a very different model moving forward,” he said. “There’s some history when you talk about the traditional Big Ten/Pac-12 matchups, and specifically when it comes to the Rose Bowl and the significance of the Rose Bowl on both of our conferences as long as you can remember.

“We understand that and the magnitude of that. But again, at the end of the day, we’ve got to do everything we possibly can to prepare and play well against a really good opponent.”

In case you missed it

If quarterback Cam Rising calls it a college career and makes himself available for the NFL draft, where does that leave the Utah quarterback room?

Will the Utes scour the transfer portal for a replacement or is the next starting QB already on the roster?

“We’ve got to put the best room together that we possibly can, whether that’s through the addition of young talent or proven commodities out of the portal,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. “We’re in that process right now. The portal doesn’t really crystallize until Dec. 5. There’s going to be a huge influx of portal entries. So we’ll do what’s best for the room.”

Earlier this season, backup sophomore quarterback Bryson Barnes helped lead the Utes to a victory over Washington State in October when Rising wasn’t available, while freshman Nate Johnson, who scored a pair of touchdowns against Arizona, and freshmen Brandon Rose and Luke Bottari are other quarterbacks also on Utah’s roster.

Numbers game

5: 3-pointers Branden Carlson made in the Runnin’ Utes upset victory over No. 4-ranked Arizona at the Huntsman Center in Pac-12 opener.

7: Number of times the Utes sacked Heisman Trophy front-runner Caleb Williams in the Utes’ Pac-12 championship game victory over USC.

16: Votes the Runnin’ Utes received in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 basketball rankings.

From the archives

How winning another Pac-12 title impacts transfer portal, bowl game opt-outs for Utah
Utah would’ve benefitted greatly from an expanded playoff
Late Fred Whittingham would be proud of son Kyle and of Utah domination

Extra points

  • What Kyle Whittingham says about returning to the Rose Bowl, facing Penn State (Deseret News)
  • Utah’s win over USC is most-watched Pac-12 championship game ever (Deseret News)
  • Utah, BYU and Utah State 2022-23 transfer portal tracker (Deseret News)
  • ‘These kids never blinked:’ Amid injuries and adversity, Utes’ resolve and depth came through (Deseret News)
  • 4-star Timpview offensive tackle Spencer Fano commits to Utah (Deseret News)
  • Lander Barton, 4 first-teamers lead Utah players honored on Pac-12 all-conference team (Deseret News)
  • Analysis: Runnin’ Utes gut out an overtime win at Washington State they wouldn’t have won last year (Deseret News)
  • Have You Seen This? When Utah and Ohio State become unlikely friends (
  • Doorbell camera catches Utah football fans fawning over Kyle Whittingman (Salt Lake Tribune)


This looks to be an epic game between two top ten teams in the Rose Bowl!!! But how about a rematch with SC? Utah beat them three games in a row, and twice in one year when the Trojans were bound for the playoffs. Cam Rising was right, Friday night was Homeric, the Utes are indeed “Trojan killers”!!! Next team up...Penn St.!!! Go Utes!!!

— Stathis

I offer sincere congratulations to the coaches and players of the University of Utah football team. They played hard, they played well, and earned this great reward. Football is a game of skill and luck and both came together for the Utes this year. They should all feel very proud.

— UTlegaleagle

A great thing about bowl season is the chance to match teams that never (or rarely) play each other. A first ever match between these schools is awesome, with the Rose Bowl a fantastic bonus.

Penn State opens a 1.5 point favorite. Neither Coach Whittingham nor Coach Franklin are known for overlooking their opponents, and neither will take the game for granted just because its not part of the CFP (a.k.a. “pulling a Saban”).

— SoonerUte

Up next

Dec. 9 | All Day | Track and Field | BYU Indoor Invitational | @Provo

Dec. 9 | 6:45 p.m. | Gymnastics | Red Rocks Preview | @Salt Lake City | Pac-12 Network

Dec. 10 | 5 p.m. | Women’s basketball | vs. BYU | @Provo

Runnin’ Utes coach Craig Smith celebrates with center Branden Carlson, left, and guard Lazar Stefanovic after the upset No. 4-ranked Arizona at the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News