Fiesta Bowl storylines worth following

The Rose Bowl is hosting one of the national semi-finals contests, but had it not, the match-up of Penn State versus Washington would have made a compelling choice under the annual Big Ten / Pac-12 system.

Washington and Penn State are a cut below those teams, but there are still intriguing storylines within their Fiesta Bowl matchup on Saturday at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. This season he corralled 47 passes for 594 yards including three touchdowns. Both teams have a great deal of respect for one another. Penn State may have a few more playmakers, but on balance these are very similar teams coming from similar places. The already depth-lacking group will look to senior Jason Cabinda to step up and have a big game. For a time earlier this season, the first team All-Big Ten running back was the Heisman Trophy front-runner. The dynamic running back rushed for over 1,100 yards and scooped up 16 touchdowns while running at a 5.7 yards per attempt clip. Cabinda will need to bring his leadership to a group that struggled toward the end of the season. The line declined down to 3 at Bovada, and 2.5 and 2 in favor of the Nittany Lions elsewhere.

The No. 9 Huskies will get their biggest test of the season - fittingly - in their biggest game of the season Saturday as they square off with the No. 11 Penn State Nittany Lions in the Fiesta Bowl.

That means that there will be possibly new plays called that opposing defenses haven't seen yet on film.

Here's a quick look at all four games.

Penn State took the opening kick with Miles Sanders instead of Saquon Barkley. Vea is the 2017 PAC 12 defensive player of the year. The junior is a future first-round draft pick.

Washington does not have a weak passing game.

On the Penn State side, the Nittany Lions will rely on the ability of their high scoring offense. Jake Browning and the Huskies do a lot things well, and protecting the quarterback is near the top.

Chris Petersen is a sensational coach, and he went 2-0 in Fiesta Bowls while at Boise State in large part because he took risks, used trick plays and kept the other team guessing. If Grant Haley, Christian Campbell and Amani Oruwariye can shut down Pettis, there is a good chance for the Nittany Lions to come out of Arizona with a win.

The Nittany Lions had an extremely impressive start to their season, defeating their first seven opponents, including #19 MI. Penn State coach James Franklin introduced himself to Vea earlier this week and joked to the UW star.

The Huskies have a tremendous punt returner in Dante Pettis, who's tied for the NCAA career punt return record with eight TDs, while PSU has an excellent punter in Blake Gillikin who excels in ball placement.

  • Aubrey Nash