The Huskies play a 3-4 defensive style. The linebackers are led by All-Pac-12 inside linebackers Keishawn Bierria and Ben Burr-Kirven. According to OddsShark, the Nittany Lions are favored by 2.5 points, and the total is set at 54.5.
Penn State will no doubt try to get Barkley and the run game going early, but, like Washington, they are not one-dimensional.
"I don't think it's something that you can really put into words and describe the impact that last year's seniors had, the impact this year's seniors had", Franklin said Friday at the final press conference before Saturday's game against Washington at University of Phoenix Stadium. This is a premier match-up of a great running back against a great run defense. Senior Mike Gesicki led the Lions with 51 receptions followed closely by Hamilton and Johnson (each had 48 catches).
Penn State's defense, for a time, was one of the nation's best.
When Marcus Allen, Jason Cabinda, Grant Haley and the other current seniors committed, Penn State was dealing with severe NCAA sanctions, including a four-year postseason ban.
Penn State won its second national championship, defeating Miami 14-10 in the program's most memorable bowl victory. The Nittany Lions seem to have made the desert their home-away-from-home.
With the advent of the four-team College Football Playoff, the rest of the bowl games have lost significance to anyone outside the participating programs or their fan bases. The first game of the day is the TaxSlayer Bowl, which has Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson.
Likewise, Petersen is reticent to bring up the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, when his Boise State team defeated Oklahoma 43-42 in overtime.
Petersen said he spent several years after the Fiesta Bowl acting "like it didn't happen" when asked about the game.
Now the time has come for one team to earn their 11th win of the season. He doesn't expect that to be the case Saturday even though both teams were undefeated at midseason and considered College Football Playoff contenders. But kicking to Pettis is a danger I can't imagine Penn State would want to risk.
This year's Fiesta Bowl should be very entertaining.
"I do feel like both teams are really excited about this opportunity and playing in this game", he said. Her message to Franklin ahead of the Fiesta Bowl was simple: "Win this game or me and the kids are gone", Franklin said.