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PSU HC James Franklin Expects “Almost the Entirety” of Team to be Available for Rose Bowl Game

Penn State Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin November 12, 2022 David Hague/NSN

Penn State coach James Franklin expects “almost the entirety” of Penn State’s roster to be available for the Rose Bowl Game. He told reporters this at the Rose Bowl Game conference call Sunday evening.

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham expects every non-injured Ute to be ready to play, which is what happened in the school’s first Rose Bowl game last season against Ohio State.

“We had no opt-outs last year,” Whittingham told reporters on the same conference call, “everybody played. Fully expecting that to happen this year. Doesn’t mean it necessarily will, but I’ve heard nothing of the sort to think any differently.”

News like this wouldn’t have been a big deal at one point.

But these days, star players opting out of bowl games isn’t only not unusual, it’s something people expect to happen in a lot of cases. Last season, six Penn State players opted out before the team’s Outback Bowl against Arkansas. 

“In my 12 years as a head coach,” Franklin said, “(we) had never had an opt-out until last year. I think that’s a challenge across college football right now. I think that’s why there’s a lot of conversations going on about (College Football Playoff) expansion and things like that.” 

Defensive back Joey Porter Jr. opted out last week and declared for the NFL Draft, but it doesn’t look like many players will be joining him, if any. Penn State’s starting quarterback, Sean Cliffordsaid he’d be playing in Penn State’s bowl game, and that was after the team’s regular-season finale against Michigan State, well before Penn State knew where it’d be playing. Tackle Olu Fashanu, who announced he’d be returning to school last week, will presumably be playing as well if he’s healthy. Fashanu missed Penn State’s previous four games with an injury.

Penn State and Utah will play in the 109th Rose Bowl Game Monday, Jan. 2. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 ET.

Franklin, who coached in the Rose Bowl Game Jan. 2, 2017, feels the appeal of “The Granddaddy of Them All” is a positive in keeping players from opting out. 

“Whether you’re a coach or whether you’re a fan or whether you’re a player, the Rose Bowl holds a special place in a lot of people’s perspectives,” he said. “I think, obviously, playing in that type of game and on that type of stage and against an opponent like Utah, I think it helps.”

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