ATLANTA — The Peach Bowl matchup of No. 10 Penn State and No. 11 Mississippi can be a superb pairing within the 2024 debut of a 12-team playoff.
For now, the aim is constructing momentum for a run at subsequent yr’s nationwide championship. And even with out playoff drama, the showdown between the Nittany Lions’ top-ranked protection and the up-tempo Rebels offense led by quarterback Jaxson Dart assist make Saturday’s recreation a pretty sellout (11 a.m., ESPN).
Ole Miss (10-2) hopes to finish the primary 11-win season at school historical past.
“It’ll by no means be forgotten, getting that eleventh win, one thing that has by no means been carried out in program historical past,” stated Rebels huge receiver Jordan Watkins. “It’s been a fantastic motivating issue for us, and I believe it’s going to take lots of momentum going into subsequent season.”
Penn State (10-2) is making its first Peach Bowl look, and coach James Franklin is motivated to finish this system’s assortment of New 12 months’s Six bowl victories.
Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin stated adjustments on the Penn State employees have created new worries for his plans. Former Penn State defensive coordinator Manny Diaz was employed as Duke’s head coach. Assistants Anthony Poindexter and Robb Smith are co-coordinators for the bowl recreation whereas Franklin’s rent because the 2024 coordinator, former Indiana coach Tom Allen, observes.
Andy Kotelnicki has been employed as Penn State’s new offensive coordinator, however assistants Ja’Quan Seider and Ty Howle will work of their third recreation as co-coordinators.
“We don’t have any thought what they’re going to do,” Kiffin stated Tuesday.
The choices by Penn State defensive finish Chop Robinson and Ole Miss defensive finish Cedric Johnson to skip the sport and put together for the NFL draft had been introduced earlier than the groups traveled to Atlanta. Franklin confirmed on Friday that senior cornerback Johnny Dixon isn’t with the workforce.
Franklin labored out agreements with others, together with cornerback Kalen King and defensive finish Adisa Isaac, who’ve introduced draft plans or are anticipated to enter the draft, to stick with the workforce by the bowl.
Dart and operating again Quinshon Judkins on Thursday wouldn’t decide to enjoying for Ole Miss in 2024.
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Dart, a junior, might nonetheless enter the NFL draft. Judkins, a sophomore, might entertain curiosity within the switch portal. Both determination might have a big effect on the Rebels’ outlook.
When requested Thursday if he’d decided about his future, Dart stated “Truthfully, not too nervous about it proper now. Simply targeted on the bowl recreation and targeted on my preparation and doing my job to assist put my workforce in the perfect state of affairs to win and assist make historical past right here.”
Judkins stated he’s “simply targeted on this bowl recreation, simply going out with my guys.”
A go to to the Faculty Soccer Corridor of Fame close to Mercedes-Benz Stadium gave Penn State gamers an opportunity to understand the school profession of Poindexter, who was inducted in 2020 for his exploits as a security at Virginia within the late Nineteen Nineties.
“It was particular as a result of I obtained to go together with our workforce,” Poindexter stated. “I don’t know in the event that they actually thought I might play or not. I actually don’t inform them. So possibly now they’ll assume I can play somewhat bit.”
Franklin, the previous Vanderbilt coach, has performed up the chance for his Massive Ten workforce in opposition to a Southeastern Convention workforce.
“We’re excited we’re in SEC territory,” stated Penn State operating again Nicholas Singleton. “Coach Franklin all the time preaches about that. However we’re prepared.”