The Penn State Nittany Lions finished its 2011-12 campaign Saturday with a tough road loss, 45-7, to the University of Wisconsin in a Big Ten Conference game at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, WI. The drubbing dropped Penn State (9-3, 6-2 Big Ten) to second in the Leaders Division of the Big Ten and forces the Nittany Lions to wait and see which bowl game will invite them to play in the postseason.
So far, early projections have Penn State playing in the Insight Bowl against Kansas State, which is from the Big 12 Conference. There's a possibility that the Nittany Lions could earn a spot in the Meineke Car Care Bowl or the Gator Bowl -- which are considered as silently better bowls -- but the looming sexual abuse scandal involving former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky could hurt their bowl-bid profile.
"The Nittany Lions’ child sex abuse scandal is toxic for bowls that want feel-good stories and free-spending fans," wrote Scott Dochterman of The Gazette Sunday morning. "On the field, Penn State deserves a nice bowl at 9-3 and a share of the Leaders Division title. But "deserves" doesn’t sell travel packages or entice walk-up traffic. I still think Penn State lands in the Insight Bowl, which took Iowa last year."
Here's how the bowl selection process may go:
"The Insight Bowl will make the third selection after the Big Ten’s BCS teams are decided," wrote Mark Wogenrich of the Morning Call. "With the title-game winner headed to the Rose Bowl, and Michigan on the verge of a BCS at-large invitation, that leaves the title-game loser and Nebraska aligned for the top Florida bowls (Capital One and Outback)."
Wogenrich says, that the Gator Bowl, which selects right before the Insight Bowl, is looking to invite Ohio State University, which is in the process of hiring former Florida University head coach Urban Myer. If Myer is hired before the bowl invitations go out, the Buckeyes would be a perfect fit for the Gator Bowl, which is played in Jacksonville, FL -- a hotbed for Gator football.
If that scenario plays out like it should, Penn State would be the next Big Ten school in line for an invite.
Check back to SB Nation Philly for more on Penn State's possible bowl destination. SB Nation's Black Shoes Diaries will also have more about the Nittany Lions bowl possibilities.