Rose Bowl: No. 8 Utah to face No. 11 Penn State for the first time in their history

Utah running back Micah Bernard scores late in the fourth quarter against USC
Utah running back Micah Bernard, right, celebrates with teammates while scoring late in the fourth quarter of the Utes' Pac-12 championship game win over USC on Friday in Las Vegas. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Utah knew its reward for its Pac-12 championship game win over USC was a trip to the Rose Bowl.

The College Football Playoff selection committee revealed its final rankings Sunday and confirmed the No. 8 Utes (10-3) will face No. 11 Penn State (10-2) in Pasadena.

The Utes closed strong, overpowering surging USC, after earlier losses to Florida, UCLA and Oregon. Utah quarterback Cameron Rising, a Newbury Park alum, was named most valuable player of the Pac-12 title game after passing for 310 yards and three touchdowns. He gained the most buzz for smiling, popping back up and resuming play after his helmet popped off during a bruising USC tackle.

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The Nittany Lions were equally potent in November after falling to Michigan and Ohio State, which earned spots in the College Football Playoff semifinals.

The Rose Bowl is set to kick off at 2 p.m. on Jan. 2 and the game will air on ESPN.

Utah lost last season's Rose Bowl to Ohio State. The Buckeyes avoided a potential rematch with the Utes by sliding into the final playoff semifinal slot. Utah and Penn State have never met.

With USC and UCLA poised to leave for the Big Ten in 2024, the same year the CFP will expand its field, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said he was grateful his team will participate in a classic version of the granddaddy of bowl experiences.

“There’s going to be major changes in my opinion, huge changes in college football. It’s going to be pretty much unrecognizable the next five, six years compared to what it is now,” Whittingham said. “We’re excited to be able to play in the Rose Bowl this year in the traditional fashion and in its traditional time slot.”

Each school receives an allocation of Rose Bowl tickets it sells, but club seating is available for purchase at rosebowlstadium.com.

Los Angeles will be hosting three bowls, with the Jimmy Kimmel L.A. Bowl to kick off at 12:30 p.m. on Dec. 17 at SoFi Stadium. Mountain West champion Fresno State (9-4) will take on Washington State (7-5).

Fresno State overcame a 1-4 start and a rash of injuries to win its final eight games, beating Boise State 28-14 on the Broncos' home field to claim the program’s third Mountain West crown.

“We’ve come a long way since the first part of the year when a lot of people didn’t believe in us,” Fresno State coach Jeff Tedford said. “But the staff did and the kids did. … It’s nice to see them happy.”

Tickets start at $35 and are available at LABowlGame.com.

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Los Angeles closes out bowl season by hosting the national championship game at SoFi Stadium. Kickoff is at 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 9 and the game will air on ESPN. No. 1 Georgia, No. 2 Michigan, No. 3 TCU and No. 4 Ohio State clinched semifinal bids and will vie for a spot in the title game.

Each school will receive ticket allocations, but premium seating options are available at sofistadium.com/collegefootballplayoff.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.