The Grandaddy of them all - as Keith Jackson would say. The Rose Bowl is the oldest bowl game - and pretty much where the term "bowl" comes from - Penn State's been there twice - once in 1922 and once in 1994...
The 1922 Rose Bowl game (played on January 1, 1923) was not only the Lions' first bowl game, but the first game played in the Rose Bowl (prior to this, the Tournament East-West football game was played at Tournament Park, in Pasadena). The Lions traveled (the whole way) to Pasadena for the game against USC. This in itself amazes me. The game itself, by our standards, was not so amazing. Penn State led at the end of the first quarter, 3 - 0, but proceeded to lose the game 3 - 14. The Lions would amass only 104 yards and 5 first downs against Southern California.
The Lions would not return to Pasadena until their second season in the Big Ten. In 1994, Penn State's atypical offensive fury had resulted in an undefeated regular season. Always at the forefront of college football history, PSU was, once again, shut out of an opportunity to play for the national championship against the #1 ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers, due to the Big Ten's commitment to the Rose Bowl - it had happened to teams before - but this game is a real catalyst to the creation of the (gasp! horrors!) Bowl Championship Series. The Lions were slated to play the Pac Ten Champion Ducks of Oregon - with the knowledge that Nebraska had, the night before, defeated Miami in the Orange Bowl, the Lions took the field. The Ducks played hard, but if anyone had concerns that the Lions would come out flat they were quickly put to ease by Ki-Jana Carter's 83 yard td run. The Lions would only score on the ground, racking up 5 rushing TDs. The final score of the game was 38 - 20 - Oregon had made the game much more "interesting" than most had predicted. It was, of course, a bittersweet victory for Penn State. They were, once again, an undefeated team with no National Championship.
Rose Bowl Logo from tournamentofroses.com