(News4usonline) – No. 8 Utah and No. 11 Penn State kicked off Rose Bowl Game week with a trip to Disneyland. The Pac-12 Conference and Big Ten Conferences representatives were able to get out and meet Mickey Mouse and his friends as they made the rounds between being entertained and fulfilling their media duties and speaking with the press.
Both teams had rocky starts to their 2022 regular season. However, both the Nittany Lions and the Utes were able to shrug off their early season woes to play stellar enough football to make it into the Rose Bowl Game.
Utah, the Pac-12 Conference preseason pick, had to dig themselves out of a 17-point hole against the USC Trojans to win the conference title game and earn their spot in a game generally referred to as the Granddaddy of Them All.
Utah (10-3) defensive back R. J. Hubert talked about the team overcoming the setbacks the Utes had to play their way through in order to make it into a primetime bowl game on New Year’s Day like the Rose Bowl Game.
“We just always had an eye on what we wanted to accomplish and we knew that was the Pac-12 Championship and then returning to a prestigious bowl game,” Hubert said. “Here we are ready to do that. It’s just when we lost those games we realized that like everything we needed to do lies and we needed to take care of business and we were able to do that.”
This is the second straight year that Utah has played its way into the Rose Bowl Game. Last season, the Utes upset the Oregon Ducks for the right to face off against Ohio State. The Utes will be facing a team that is resilient as well.
Penn State linebacker Jonathan Sutherland appearing at the Rose Bowl Game welcome event at #Disneyland in Anaheim, California. Sutherland shares his thoughts on the Nittany Lions playing Utah in the Grandaddy of Them All. #RoseBowl pic.twitter.com/YH52beM4b3— Dennis J. Freeman (@DennisJFreeman) December 29, 2022
Penn State finished third in the Big Ten Conference behind Michigan and Ohio State, both of whom are playing in the College Football Playoff semifinals. If there were a characteristic to best describe the Utes and the type of season they’ve had, Cameron Rising, the star quarterback for Utah, kept it simple.
“It’s been up and down, but gritty,” Rising said. “We stayed with it and trusted the process, and we’re at the Rose Bowl. it’s good.”
Outside of the obvious game stuff, Penn State long snapper Chris Stoll said he and his teammates were enthusiastic to be taking the trip to a place often dubbed the Happiest Place on Earth.
“It’s kind of an opportunity for us to kind of grow together, get closer as a team,” Stoll said. “Obviously, the senior class, it’s kind of our last five days as a team, so it’s always a good way to come out here, try to go 1-0, and enjoy ourselves as a team.”
In describing how the season turned out for the Nittany Lions, Stoll said things worked out pretty well.
“I think that we’ve done really well, 10-2, and had our opportunities to go against the big boys in Ohio State and Michigan,” remarked Stoll. “It didn’t come out the way we wanted it to, but I think our team kind of really bonded together to create that championship atmosphere that we want, and to show we made it here at the Rose Bowl. We’re excited to be here, excited to go 1-0.”
Penn State linebacker Jonathan Sutherland said he is appreciative that the Nittany Lions have the opportunity to square off against Utah in the Rose Bowl Game.
“It’s a very historic game with great tradition, and obviously, this team has put a lot of work in,” Sutherland said. “We made a lot of sacrifices throughout the season, and just to be here is a great honor and it’s well-deserved by our team.”
Dennis has covered and written about politics, crime, social justice, sports, and entertainment. Dennis currently covers the NFL, MLB, NBA, NCAA, and Olympic sports. Dennis is the editor of News4usonline.com and serves as the publisher of the Compton Bulletin newspaper. He earned a journalism degree from Howard University.