Penn State vs. Memphis: How to Watch, Live Stream Cotton Bowl Classic

Penn State and Memphis get the New Year's Six bowl games underway when they meet in the Cotton Bowl on Saturday.

While most of the focus on the day will be on the two College Football Playoff semifinals, the matchup between the Nittany Lions and the Tigers has all the ingredients to be the perfect appetizer.

As this graphic provided by Statista shows, Penn State finished the regular season as the No. 10 ranked team by the CFP committee after going 10-2—only the third time the Nittany Lions have won 10 or more games this decade.

No. 17 Memphis, meanwhile, secured their first outright AAC title earlier this month—they were co-champion in 2014—and become only the sixth Group of Five program to compete in one of the New Year's Six bowl games.

College Football Playoff Ranking Week 15
Penn State finished the regular season as the No. 10 ranked team in the country. Statista

The man who engineered Memphis' remarkable season, however, will not be on the sidelines when the Tigers take on Penn State in Arlington, Texas.

Mike Norvell left the program to take over at Florida State shortly after the Tigers secured the AAC title with offensive line coach Ryan Silverfield promoted as his replacement.

Under Silverfield, Memphis set school records in touchdown and rushing yards last year with 46 and 3,919 respectively and averaged 40.5 points per game this season.

Memphis scored at least 25 points in all but one of the games it has played this season, with Brady White and Kenneth Gainwell emerging as an excellent—if unheralded— quarterback-running back combinations in the FBS.

The former finished with 3,560 passing yards and 33 touchdown passes, while the latter recorded 12 touchdowns and 1,425 rushing yards.

The Tigers' offensive prowess will be tested against a Penn State defense that allowed just 14.1 points per game this season—the seventh-best scoring defense in the nation.

The Nittany Lions conceded more than 20 points four times this season, three of which came against ranked opponents—Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio State.

Penn State lost the latter of those three games, but defeated Michigan, the second of the Nittany Lions' back-to-back wins against ranked programs following their road win against Iowa.

Like Memphis, Penn State has also lost part of his coaching staff, with offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne now the head coach at Old Dominion.

The Nittany Lions have now made the New Year's Six bowl for the third time in four years under James Franklin, who penned a contract extension until 2025 earlier this month.

A year on after losing the Citrus Bowl to Kentucky 27-24, Saturday will mark Penn State's first appearance in the Cotton Bowl since 1975.

While some fans were disappointed the team wasn't selected for the Rose Bowl—Wisconsin got the nod instead—Franklin relishes the chance of playing in Dallas.

"We're everywhere, and I know we'll come out strong," Franklin said of the university's fan base.

"We'll come out strong and fill the Cotton Bowl [The game is actually played at AT&T Stadium] It should be a great experience for everybody. I'm looking forward to being in Dallas. I'm looking forward to it all."

Here's all you need to know ahead of Saturday.

Penn State Nittany Lions
Tyler Rudolph #21 of the Penn State Nittany Lions celebrates with teammates after recovering a kick against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during the second half of the game at Beaver Stadium on November 30 in State College, Pennsylvania. Scott Taetsch/Getty

When and where is the Cotton Bowl?

The Penn State Nittany Lions take on the Memphis Tigers at AT&T Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys, in Arlington, Texas.

Kick-off is scheduled for 12 p.m. ET on Saturday, December 28.

TV coverage

The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.

Live stream

A live stream will be available via ESPN's digital platforms, WatchESPN and the ESPN app.

Series record

Saturday marks the first meeting between the two programs.


According to BetOnline, No. 10 Penn State is a 6.5-point favorite and is 9/10 to cover the spread, while No. 17 Memphis is a 2/1 underdog.

The over/under line in terms of total points scored is set at 60.5.

The Nittany Lions are 6-6 against the spread this season, while the Cotton Bowl will be Memphis' first game as underdogs this season.