The 2017 Fiesta Bowl between Penn State and Washington will be played on Dec. 30, 2017 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. This game is tied to two at-large bids and has been played in its current form for the last seven years. Find the date, time and location below.
Where is the Fiesta Bowl, and how can I watch?
Stadium and city: University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.
Date and time: Dec. 30, 4 p.m. ET
TV and streaming: ESPN and WatchESPN
What should I know about the two teams in the Fiesta Bowl?
Washington (10-2, 7-2 in Pac-12)
The Huskies weren’t as consistent this season as they were during their Playoff season in 2016, but they’re still dangerous. The offense has weapons all over the field, but the defense features one of the most tenacious fronts in the country. When UW’s on, this is an elite team. It just hasn’t been on during quite enough games in 2017.
This is Washington’s eighth consecutive bowl season, coming on the heels of a postseason dry spell that lasted from 2003-09. The Huskies have gotten used to this.
For more on Washington, check out SB Nation’s UW Dawg Pound.
Penn State (10-2, 7-2 in Big Ten)
The Nittany Lions’ dream season took a body blow with back-to-back losses in late October and early November to Ohio State and Michigan State. They were a legitimate Playoff contender for a while, but they lost a nailbiter in Columbus and their all-or-nothing offense came up with nothing the following week in East Lansing. So, that was that. It’s a tough business.
But this remains a good team and one of the most fun watches in college football. Penn State is known for its offense but is arguably just as good on defense. The Lions have recruited well, so they’ll have a chance to improve on two really good seasons in 2016 and 2017. This’ll be the first game for PSU in two years without offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead, who left to take the head coaching job at Mississippi State.
For now, they’ve got their 11th bowl game in 13 years. Check out SB Nation’s Black Shoe Diaries for more on Penn State.
How Penn State Can Win
Penn State is the slight favorite for the showdown at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, and Saquon Barkley and this offense are a major reason why.
Barkley is a do-everything back for the Nittany Lions, and this season should see him going to New York as a Heisman Trophy finalist. He’s No. 2 in the nation in all-purpose yards, racking up an incredible 179.5 yards per game.
It all makes an offense that averages 6.5 yards per play go, and quarterback Trace McSorley does an excellent job of pushing the ball downfield in their vertical passing game. It all works together to create a dynamic offense that can attack all levels of the field.
On defense, Penn State does a good job of keeping Barkley’s counterparts from springing loose. The Nittany Lions bottled up opposing running backs to the tune of 3.3 yards per carry.
They are stingy against the pass, too. They rank 12th in the nation in yards allowed per pass attempt at just 6.0.
If Penn State can get the ball to Barkley in creative ways and get him going, the offense should have enough to keep Washington’s defense on its toes. From there, the Penn State defense should be able to make life difficult for the Huskies.
How Washington Can Win
Washington is a team that never felt like it was quite recognized as a potential playoff side, but that’s a mistake. The Huskies are a well-balanced team in their own right and bring a lot to the table.
For starters, they have their own do-it-all back who is statistically comparable to Barkley in the rushing department. Myles Gaskin has put together a season that should be noticed more than it probably is.
Quarterback Jake Browning has been asked to do much less than he was last season, but he has been efficient. He’s thrown 18 touchdowns to just five interceptions while completing 68 percent of his passes.
Defensively, the Huskies have been even more dominant than Penn State. They have limited opponents to just 4.1 yards per play and have the No. 1 rush defense at 2.63 yards per carry.
If the Huskies win, it will be because they limited Barkley to just a few big plays or less and Browning was able to do enough to keep the Lions from stacking the box against Gaskin.
Fiesta Bowl history
The Fiesta Bowl began in 1971 as the state of Arizona’s first bowl game. Most recently, it served as the semifinal game of the College Football Playoff in 2016 with Clemson beating Ohio State 31-0. It marked the first time since Miami in 1994 that a team was shut out in a Fiesta Bowl.
When most people think of the Fiesta Bowl, they think of the classic 2007 game between Oklahoma and Boise State when the Broncos took down the Sooners 43-42 in overtime. Ian Johnson famously took the statue of liberty handoff and then proposed to his girlfriend after the game.
Arizona State and Ohio State have won the game five times while Penn State has taken home a victory six times. Nebraska holds the record for points scored when the Cornhuskers posted 62 on Florida in 1996. This also happens to be the largest margin of victory as the Gators were held to just 24 points.
Perhaps the most contreversial game came in 2003 when Ohio State played Miami. The Hurricanes thought they had won the game until a pass interference flag was thrown and Ohio State went on to win 31-24.
The game as gone through a number of sponsors over the years. The most notable and fitting sponsor was Tostitos from 1996 to 2014. Others include Sunkist, IBM, Vizio, BattleFrog, and most recently PlayStation.
The highest attendence at any Fiesta Bowl came in 1998 when 80,470 watched Tennesee beat Florida State 23-16. Peerless Price was the MVP of that game alongside Dwayne Goodrich on defense.
Some Fiesta Bowl MVPs have gone on to NFL careers both big and small. Deshaun Watson of Clemson was the most recent MVP. AJ Hawk was an MVP in both 2004 and 2006. Other notable names include Joey Harrington at Oregon, Cordell Stewart with Colorado, Eric Crouch with Nebraska, Blake Bortles with the University of Central Florida and Alex Smith with Utah.
The game has gone to overtime just three times in 2012, 2007 and 2003. It was hosted at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona until 2006 when it moved to its current location.
Fiesta Bowl 2017 Prediction: Washington 31, Penn State 21