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3 reasons to watch the Fiesta Bowl between Washington and Penn State

Posted at 11:53 AM, Dec 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-28 13:53:13-05

It's not a College Football Playoff semifinal game this year. And it's not receiving the kind of national attention that some other New Year's Six bowl games are getting.

But this year's PlayStation Fiesta Bowl matchup between the No. 9 Penn State Nittany Lions and No. 11 Washington Huskies could be one of the best bowl games of the 2017 college football season.

Here are three reasons to watch Saturday's game between Washington and Penn State at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, which will begin at 2 p.m. Arizona time on ESPN. (Tickets can be purchased here.)

1. Penn State's Fiesta Bowl history

The Fiesta Bowl was originally created for ASU -- and while the Sun Devils are 5-1 all-time in that bowl game, they're one win behind Penn State, which is a perfect 6-0 in Fiesta Bowl history.

The Nittany Lions haven't played in the Fiesta Bowl in 20 years, but their six victories in the game remain the most of any NCAA team. They'll have a chance to maintain that unblemished record when they face Washington, which is making its first-ever Fiesta Bowl trip. Will the Huskies break through on their first try, or will Penn State make it a perfect seven for seven?

2. Saquon Barkley

The most exciting player in this year's Fiesta Bowl is Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, who was an early Heisman Trophy favorite this season and a projected first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

The junior has over 1,600 total yards in 12 games this season, and he has recorded 21 total touchdowns, including two on kickoff returns. Barkley is arguably the most explosive player in college football this year, and the Huskies will certainly be challenged to contain him Saturday.

3. Last year's Rose Bowl

If the 2017 Fiesta Bowl is anything like the 2017 Rose Bowl, attendees and viewers will be in for a treat.

Arguably the most exciting college football game of the calendar year, USC's thrilling 52-49 win over Penn State on Jan. 2 featured over 1,000 yards of total offense, along with three touchdowns from Saquon Barkley (see Reason No. 2 above). Saturday's game will likely include a bit more defense than last season's Rose Bowl, but with a pair of evenly matched 10-2 teams facing off, fans should get their money's worth.