The New Year’s Six bowl slate kicks off on Saturday with the Cotton Bowl inside AT&T Stadium when No. 10 Penn State faces No. 17 Memphis. This will be the first time that these two programs will have battled on the football field, though the game also serves as the fourth time the Nittany Lions will make an appearance in the Cotton Bowl game. It will be their first Cotton Bowl appearance since 1974.
This is also the 24th time Penn State has appeared in one of bowls now referred to as the New Year’s Six. Memphis will be stepping into the Cotton Bowl for the first time but should not be phased by the big stage considering its success over the last few seasons. So what will happen in the Cotton Bowl to kickoff a big day of games Saturday? Let’s take a look.
Penn State: While Penn State won’t be disappointed to be playing in the Cotton Bowl, this isn’t where the Nittany Lions had hoped to end up. Penn State got off to an 8-0 start to the season, including a couple of key wins over Iowa and Michigan. Then the Nittany Lions went north to Minnesota where they lost to the Golden Gophers. A few weeks later, Penn State lost on the road to Ohio State and limped to the finish line going 2-2 in its final four games, including a lackluster 27-6 win over Rutgers to finish the regular season. Quarterback Sean Clifford was banged up in the Ohio State loss but is expected to play in this game. Somebody who won’t be there is offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne, who has left to become the head coach at Old Dominion.
Memphis: Memphis won the AAC to earn the Group of Five’s spot in the New Year’s Six. The Tigers enter the game with a 12-1 record, and their only loss was a 30-28 defeat on the road against Temple. Of course, they also enter this game without their head coach, Mike Norvell, who left to take over Florida State. Norvell leaves behind a solid program he helped build. While the Cotton Bowl is the biggest bowl game the Tigers have ever played in, it’s also the sixth straight bowl game they’ve made. That’s impressive for a program that has only reached a bowl game 12 times in its history.
Event: Cotton Bowl
Date: Saturday, Dec. 28 | Time: 12 p.m. ET
Location: AT&T Stadium — Arlington, Texas
TV: ESPN | Live stream: WatchESPN.com