The Penn State Nittany Lions (8-1, 5-0) stand atop the Big Ten at present and own a two-game lead over the Wisconsin Badgers in the Leaders division, but as SB Nation contributor Samuel Chi notes, their bowl position is far from assured. "[W]ith games against Nebraska, Ohio State and Wisconsin left," Chi writes in his latest 2011 BCS Standings and Bowl Projections post, "[Penn State is] far from assured of anything." In addition, Penn State will face the Buckeyes and Badgers on the road, further complicating its road to bowl glory.
The Big Ten's top team will play in the Rose Bowl, in which the Nittany Lions last appeared in 2008, when they lost to the USC Trojans by a 38-24 final. Given their tough remaining schedule, perhaps the Nittany Lions are more likely to represent the Big Ten elsewhere. A No. 2 finish in the Big Ten means a trip to Orlando for the Capital One Bowl, while placing No. 3 would mean a visit to Tampa for the Outback Bowl. Should Penn State fall to No. 4 or 5, it would head to either the Insight Bowl in Tempe or the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville.
Though their bowl projection for 2011 is ultimately uncertain, it's nonetheless clear that the Nittany Lions ought to prepare for warm weather.
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