Penn State Punches its Ticket (City)

The Nittany Lions will take on pass-happy Houston and record-setting quarterback Case Keenum of Conference USA in Dallas Jan. 2.

After a month of wondering where -- and possibly if -- it would go bowling, the 9-3 Penn State football team now knows its holiday destination.

The No. 23 Nittany Lions will face No. 17 Houston and record-settig quarterback Case Keenum in the TicketCity Bowl at Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas Jan. 2. The game kicks off at noon Eastern and can be seen on ESPNU.

The fallout of the Jerry Sandusky scandal obviously had an effect on where PSU landed in the Big Ten bowl pecking order. Though the Lions finished tied for the conference's Leaders Division title, they were the eighth Big Ten team picked for a bowl.

"We are excited to be playing a great Houston team in the TicketCity Bowl," Penn State interim head coach Tom Bradley said. "I'd like to thank the bowl committee for selecting us and let them know we are looking forward to playing in Dallas in the first bowl game of 2012. The opportunity to play in the TicketCity Bowl is fitting acknowledgement of the hard work, dedication and perseverance our student-athletes have exhibited during this especially challenging season. We are proud to represent the Big Ten Conference, our university, alumni and fans in the TicketCity Bowl."

The Cougars (12-1) took a plunge of their own. They were undefeated and appeared to be heading toward a BCS bowl before losing at home to Southern Mississippi in both teams' regular-season finale Saturday.

This marks the Nittany Lions' first ever trip to the TicketCity Bowl. It will be Penn State's 44th bowl appearance overall. The Nittany Lions are No. 3 in the nation with 27 bowl victories and No. 8 with 43 post-season showings.

This will be State's first bowl without Joe Paterno on the sideline since a 17-7 loss to Florida State in the 1962 Gator Bowl.

Interim head coach Tom Bradley will lead the Nittany Lions into the bowl game.

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