How did Memphis get here?
The Tigers are 12-1, are the AAC champions, and finished No. 17 in the College Football Playoff Rankings. Their only loss was a 30-28 defeat at Temple on Oct. 12.
This is Memphis' first New Year's Six bowl game, but they will have a new head coach on the sideline. Mike Norvell has moved on to Florida State, and offensive line coach Ryan Silverfield has been promoted in Norvell's place.
Freshman running back Kenneth Gainwell needs just 43 yards from scrimmage to have 2,000 on the season. According to ESPN.com's David M. Hale in his ranking of college football's 40 bowl games, in the past 15 seasons only one freshman has gained 2,000 or more yards from scrimmage: Wisconsin's Jonathan Taylor.
How did Penn State get here?
The Nittany Lions are 10-2, finished second in the Big Ten's East Division, and finished No. 10 in the College Football Playoff Rankings. Their only two losses were 31-26 atMinnesotaon Nov. 9, and 28-17 at Ohio Stateon Nov. 24.
This is Penn State's third New Year's Six bowl game in the past four seasons under head coach James Franklin, who was recently rewarded with a new six-year contract.
Sophomore Micah Parsons, who leads the Nittany Lions with 95 tackles, was named the Big Ten's linebacker of the year. Penn State has given up only 14.1 points per game this season, seventh-best in the country. But Memphis has scored 40.5 points per game, 10th-best in the country.
Who's going to win?
Penn State is currently a 7-point favorite, and has a 71.4% chance of winning, according to ESPN's Football Power Index.
AAC can earn some respect in Cotton Bowl
Joey Galloway says Memphis can raise the profile of the AAC by putting on a good performance vs. Penn State in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic.