As my colleague Steve Rhoads points out below, Penn State is the only conference team that controls their own destiny to get to the BCS. Their position is further strengthened by the fact the Lions' tiebreaker position, while not airtight, is pretty good, and they are likely to win most scenarios of a 3-4 team tie.
So it is not getting too far ahead of the story to look at a prospective bowl matchup for the Nittany Lions. The Rose Bowl hosts the national championship game this year, and Penn State is a massive longshot to rise to #2 in the BCS rankings. The safe bet is to presume that Texas and USC will play in Pasadena. This would give the Fiesta Bowl the first pick of the remaining eligible teams.(The Fiesta normally has rights to the Big 12 champ, and the loss of Texas to the Rose puts them ahead of the Sugar & Orange in the pecking order). If Notre Dame is not eligible for a BCS slot, Joe Paterno's team will be very attractive to the folks in Tempe. Penn State has played in the Fiesta a few times in the past (most notably their stunning upset of Miami for the 1986 national title), and the relationship between PSU and the Fiesta planners was a good one. Penn State brings a large contingent of fans and draws viewers in the East. They have also not been to a major bowl game since the 1996 Fiesta (ironically against Texas), and the Lion backers will surely be hungry for a big-time trip.
The Sugar and Orange Bowl would then make their picks, and given the mediocrity of the Big East, it's safe to say that conference champ would not be selected. But the Big East gets an automatic bid, and it's quite likely the Fiesta would be stuck with them. So twelve years after Penn State packed up and said goodbye to its longtime rivalries of the east, they could be paired up with one of them on New Year's Night. West Virginia is a good bet to win the league, and harbors long animosity toward the Lions. And Pitt has quietly started to play better, and could steal the conference title and another BCS bid on the cheap. Wouldn't that be something? After the Nittany Lions dumped Pitt from their schedule in 2000, this heated rivalry could take hold again in the desert of Arizona.
The possiblities are endless, but renewing an old eastern rivalry out west is very possible if Penn State wins the Big Ten. But at least tonight, Joe Paterno no doubt is not thinking any further west then West Lafayette, IN--where Saturday's opponent is getting ready to depart from.