The NCAA restored Penn State's bowl eligibility early in the 2014 season, and it did not take long for the Nittany Lions to prove why postseason games have loved them through the years.
Though James Franklin's team barely reached the qualifying standard for a bowl (a .500 regular-season record), Penn State landed in about the most attractive postseason destination for which it could have hoped. The Lions faced former Eastern rival Boston College in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium in New York.
And, thanks to the throng of PSU fans who descended on NYC, the game drew a bowl record, sellout crowd of 49,012. It obviously helped that the game was within easy driving distance for most Lion fans. But also take into account that it was one of the most expensive bowl buys on the secondary ticket market.
This is the most successful New Era Pinstripe Bowl that's ever taken place, Yankees' president Randy Levine said. He noted that a regular-season game between Notre Dame and Army at Yankee Stadium in 2010 drew in excess of 50,000 fans. But there was a catch there.
We used to put bleachers in the bullpens, but we stopped doing that. Levine said before the game Saturday. So this is a complete sellout. There are no tickets. And we'll give you the actual attendance later, because the way we do it here is the actual number of people in the seats.
The last part is an important distinction. Because in many sports stadiums and arenas, attendance is announced as tickets sold, not actual people in seats.
But even taking that into account, through this season's bowl games heading into Monday's action, the Pinstripe was one of only two legitimate sellouts. And it had drawn the second-highest number of fans among all games played.
Note that the Boca Raton Bowl between Marshall and Northern Illinois announced that it was a sellout. But eyewitnesses at the game reported that 29,419-seat FAU Stadium was perhaps half full for the game.
The only game to draw more fans than the Pinstripe was the Holiday Bowl in San Diego, where traditional powers USC and Nebraska squared off before 55,789 spectators in 71,294-seat Qualcomm Stadium. And the only other legit sellout was the Military Bowl, where Virginia Tech faced Cincinnati in tiny 34,000-seat Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md.
The Nittany Lions, who beat the Eagles 31-30 in overtime in the Pinstripe Bowl, were appreciative of the support they received.
It definitely felt like a home game, tight end Kyle Carter said. I looked out and all I saw was navy (blue) and white. So that helped, to have the fans around us.
It was a great venue, added linebacker Mike Hull. So glad the fans came out. We have the best fans in the world and I couldn't thank them enough.
Here is a rundown of bowl results, their attendance figures and the respective capacities of the stadiums (in parenthesis) of the games prior to Monday's action.
R+L CARRIERS NEW ORLEANS BOWL
Louisiana-Lafayette 16, Nevada 3
GILDAN NEW MEXICO BOWL
Utah State 21, UTEP 6
ROYAL PURPLE LAS VEGAS BOWL
No. 22 Utah 45, Colorado State 10
FAMOUS IDAHO POTATO BOWL
Air Force 38, Western Michigan 24
RAYCOM MEDIA CAMELLIA BOWL
Bowling Green 33, South Alabama 28
MIAMI BEACH BOWL
Memphis 55, BYU 48 (2OT)
BOCA RATON BOWL
Marshall 52, Northern Illinois 23
SAN DIEGO COUNTY CREDIT UNION POINSETTIA BOWL
Navy 17, San Diego State 16
POPEYES BAHAMAS BOWL
Western Kentucky 49, Central Michigan 48
Rice 30, Fresno State 6
ZAXBY'S HEART OF DALLAS BOWL
Louisiana Tech 35, Illinois 18
QUICK LANE BOWL
Rutgers 40, North Carolina 21
BITCOIN ST. PETERSBURG BOWL
North Carolina State 34, UCF 27
MILITARY BOWL PRESENTED BY NORTHROP GRUMMAN
Virginia Tech 33, Cincinnati 17
HYUNDAI SUN BOWL
No. 15 Arizona State 36, Duke 31
DUCK COMMANDER INDEPENDENCE BOWL
South Carolina 24, Miami (Fla.) 21
NEW ERA PINSTRIPE BOWL
Penn State 31, Boston College 30 (OT)
NATIONAL UNIVERSITY HOLIDAY BOWL
No. 24 USC 45, Nebraska 42