Penn State will not be eligible for postseason play until the 2016 college football season, barring any unforeseen change of heart from the NCAA offices. By the time the Nittany Lions are eligible for postseason contention, the Big Ten will have some new bowl destinations lined up.
The Big Ten will be adding the Holiday Bowl (as expected) and the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl to the rotation starting in the 2014 season, adding two more California destinations to take on programs from the Pac 12 to compliment the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. As reported, the Holiday Bowl in San Diego will have the third pick from bowl eligible teams from the Pac 12, while the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco will get the fourth pick. As it stands now, there is no selection order for the Big Ten other than the Rose Bowl and potential Orange Bowl selections. Jim Delany hopes the conference can take on a more active role in lacing the Big Ten's bowl-eligible teams in their contracted bowl games to spread things around as evenly as possible.
So, how has Penn State performed in these bowl games, you ask?
Penn State is 1-0 in the Holiday Bowl. Blair Thomas won MVP honors in the 1989 Holiday Bowl, in which the Nittany Lions topped Ty Detmer and BYU in a wild 50-39 bowl game. Thomas rushed for a game-high and Holiday Bowl record 186 yards. Detmer had the Cougars looking to score a game winner late in the game but then Gary Brown stripped the eventual Heisman Trophy winner (1990) and returned it 53 yards for a game-clinching touchdown. Detmer actually racked up 576 passing yards.
The Big Ten is 3-3 in the bowl game, if you do not include games involving Penn State or Nebraska prior to joining the conference. Nebraska has played in three Holiday Bowls, going 2-1 while a member of the Big 12.
The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl has only been around since 2002 and Penn State has not taken part in the game. That is largely due to the fact the Big Ten has rarely sent a team to the game, which has had tie-in contracts with the ACC and Pac 12.
The game has previously held a Pac 12 contract to receive the sixth best available team from the conference. Under the new arrangement the level of competition looks to be trending upward for the bowl game and Pac 12, which should help the game's future growth. Also to help the growth of the game will be relocating the home stadium. Since its inaugural game the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl has been played in the home of baseball's San Francisco Giants. While I can say that watching baseball in AT&T Park is quite a joy, it will be good to see a college football game move to a stadium designed for football. The plan appears to be to move the game in to the new stadium that will be built for the NFL's San Francisco 49ers, and who knows if that eventually opens the doors for a future championship game or College Football Playoff host opportunity.
The Big Ten is 1-0 in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, with Illinois topping UCLA by a score of 20-14 in the 2011 game, featuring a UCLA team that had to apply for a waiver to participate in the game with a losing record after losing the Pac 12 Championship Game and an Illinois team that had started 6-0 and ended the regular season with six consecutive losses (although one of those losses was eventually vacated).