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Penn State, Ohio State Welcome Challenge of Mint City Bowl

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Penn State, Ohio State Welcome Challenge of Mint City Bowl

Penn State vs Ohio State played in a CRAA Bowl Game in 2022 as well. Photo Broadcauge Media.

The Bowl Game concept is a concept that everyone embraces, but getting the right matchups together is a difficult job.

Fortunately for the CRAA Fall Classic, they've hit on one matchup that matches competitive, like-minded teams with the Mint City Bowl, with Ohio State facing Penn State.

For both teams, this year has been a bit of a rebuilding year. Penn State has not won a game in the buzzsaw of the Rugby East, but that's not something they should be ashamed of. They were upended by St. Bonaventure 21-15, Mary Washington 20-15, and Notre Dame College 24-19. They followed up their conference play with a 36-24 loss to Davenport. All of these games were very close.

"We have certainly played well in moments in all our games this season, in a very strong Rugby East Conference," said Penn State Head Coach Justin Hundley. "In most of the matches we have been one score away from being in the other column. Cutting out some errors in the opposition 22 definitely gets us there."

For Ohio State, the Buckeyes have a young side that still took third in the Big 10, beating Illinois, Michigan, Notre Dame, and losing only to Michigan State and Indiana, who made the Big 10 final. 

"Illinois has played us tough two times this year," said OSU Director of Rugby Tom Rooney. OSU opened their season with a big loss to Trinity from Dublin University, which Rooney said was a very useful lesson. But it was also humbling. They then turned around to face Illinois, and then ended up finishing up their Big 10 season against the same Illlini to take third. "Against Illinois, our game plan started out well. We controlled the game. But then after half we slipped into that young player 'we got this' [attitude] and relaxed. There's always a 15-20 minute lull in there somewhere. Illinois found it, and ran off 17 points to take the lead. This time, however, we were able to refocus and manage the game. It wasn't a clean nor precise answer, but we were able to recognize where we were and what needed to be done to win. That was a good step forward."

Despite suffering some injuries in the forwards—Sam Hessler, Enrico Liv, and Will Riley are all out, they return most of their top players for the Mint City Bowl. And for the future, it's worth noting that Ohio State won the Big 10 B-side championship.

About the game ... "It looks like a pretty good matchup between two non-scholarship public universities," added Rooney. "And [they're] two schools who respect each other with a good history between them. It's a good measuring stick for both of us. I think Penn State has faced harder competition than we have, and that may carry a lot of weight if it is a scrappy game."

"We're feeling good about the Bowl Game," added Penn State's Huntley. "Playing Ohio State is always a great contest and strong rivalry across all sports at Penn State. Ohio State is a good team and that has shown in their results this season. Some areas of our game have progressed better than others, and will be looking for a more complete game this weekend from the group. If we manage the territory well and limit our own mistakes I believe we will have a strong performance this weekend."

The Mint City Bowl kicks off Saturday at Noon ET. It will be shown live on The Rugby Network>>