Penn State chooses not to participate in bowl season after Nittany Lions conclude 4-5 year

Penn State will not pursue a bowl opportunity after concluding its season Saturday with a win over Illinois.

Nittany Lions players decided to decline any potential bowl invitations, a choice supported by coach James Franklin and athletic director Sandy Barbour.

Penn State, which started 0-5 for the first time in team history, won its final four games, including the 56-21 home victory against the Illini.

"Our student-athletes have made tremendous sacrifices this season in order to play the game they love," Barbour said in a prepared statement. "Because of their commitment to our process and protocols, we have remained healthy and are one of two teams in the Big Ten Conference to play in all nine scheduled games. Very few teams have handled playing during the pandemic as well as our program has, which fills me with Penn State pride.

"Our student-athletes will now have the opportunity for a well-deserved break to enjoy time with their families before returning for the spring semester."

Penn State is the first Big Ten team to officially opt out of the bowl season, although others are expected to follow suit. The Nittany Lions will miss the postseason for the first time since 2013, when they were serving an NCAA-mandated bowl ban.

"I couldn't be more proud and encouraged by how our team conducted itself during this unprecedented season," Franklin said in a prepared statement. "One of our four core values is a willingness to sacrifice, and our student-athletes, coaches and staff have all made incredible sacrifices both on and off the field in order for us to compete this year.

"This has been a challenging nine months, but we are proud of how our student-athletes have navigated these difficult times."