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Predicting Penn State’s matchup vs. Washington

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Chris Petersen and James Franklin pose with the Fiesta Bowl trophy on Friday in Scottsdale. - AUDREY SNYDER / DKPS

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- After nearly a month of preparation and buildup, the Nittany Lions will cap off the 2017 season on Saturday at 4 p.m. in the University of Phoenix Stadium.

The bowl game always serves as a chance to end the season on a positive note, something Penn State knows all too well after dropping the Rose Bowl last season and then relying on that as a driving force this offseason. Back-to-back New Year's Six bowl games gives the No. 9 Nittany Lions the shot to supplant No. 11 Washington, but this Huskies team could also magnify some of Penn State's glaring issues from this season, both with the Lions' run game and the defense's up and down pass rush.

Don't forget the bragging rights that are at stake, at least for the Franklin family where James' wife, Fumi, went to Washington State.

"She's a Coug," James Franklin said this week. "So when we found out we were playing Washington in this game, she made it very clear to me, win this game or me and the kids are gone."

Expect both teams to feel each other out in the first quarter in a matchup that should keep fans on the edge of their seats until late in the game. A single turnover or punt return touchdown could swing this one and send one team into the offseason on a positive note while the other is left pondering where it went wrong.

The pick: Washington 27, Penn State 24

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