Georgia's lopsided win over Arkansas in Atlanta eliminated any doubt that the Tigers were headed to the Capital One Bowl in Orlando to face Penn State of the Big Ten rather than Nashville to face Minnesota of the Big Ten.
"You figured if Georgia had a solid victory, the odds were that we were going to Orlando," Housel said. "You worry about what happened if Arkansas wins, obviously, but what if Arkansas loses but is leading the game and Georgia goes for two at the end? Or what if Georgia is leading the game 23-0 and Arkansas comes and goes for two and misses at the end? That concern was there, but as the game rolled along, about after Georgia's first two possessions, I began to feel pretty good about it.
"Auburn and Georgia have long had a great relationship," Housel added. "Their victory last night certainly helped us get to the Capital One Bowl."
Ben Leard plays Santa on Auburn's last bowl trip to Orlando two years ago, much to the delight to children of Auburn coaches and staff during a party at Sea World.
Capital One bowl officials took a vote on Sunday afternoon to determine the SEC representative in their game that will be played on New Year's Day at noon CST. Bowl officials said that Auburn was the overwhelming pick of the committee to play the Nittany Lions, who are 9-3 overall and 5-3 in the Big Ten. Auburn is 8-4 overall and 5-3 in the SEC.
Penn State will be making its 37th bowl appearance and has an all-time mark of 23-11-2 in those games. One was a victory over Auburn, 43-14, in the rain and muck at the Outback Bowl in Tampa on Jan. 1, 1995.
"We are looking forward to playing in the Capital One Bowl and meeting a very good Auburn team," said PSU's Joe Paterno, the winningest coach in Division I college football history. "Auburn has a great football tradition. They finished the season strong, winning four of their last five with a close lose to a great Georgia team and a big win over Alabama."
The matchup in Orlando will be just the second football meeting ever between the Tigers and Nittany Lions.
Tiger Ticket Extra: Housel said that he will send Georgia coach Mark Richt a note of congratulations for winning the conference championship. "He has done a great job over there and he is a good fellow. You have got to be happy for the Georgia people. It has been 20 years (since they won the SEC football title.)"...This will be Penn State's fourth trip to Orlando for a bowl game. The Nittany Lions are 1-2 there with losses to Clemson (35-10 in 1988) and Florida (21-6) in 1998 and a win over Tennessee (31-13) in 1994.