Paterno on Outback Bowl Bid

Longtime Penn State coach happy to see his team is being rewarded with New Year's Day game. In the meantime, Tampa officials are preparing to "roll out the red carpet" for the Nittany Lions and their legions of fans.

Penn State fans waiting to hear official word of the Nittany Lions' bowl destination need wait no more. Joe Paterno and his team today accepted a bid to the Outback Bowl, to be played. Jan. 1 in Tampa. The opponent, which will come from the SEC, has yet to be determined.

“We are looking forward to playing in the Outback Bowl and meeting a very good team from the Southeastern Conference,” stated Paterno, who is in his 41st season as head coach and has an overall mark of 362-121-3 (74.8). “This team has worked hard all season and has been a great group to work with. I'm happy for the squad that their efforts will be rewarded with an opportunity to go to Tampa, where we have had some wonderful experiences, and be involved in a good, tough game.”

“We are thrilled to have Joe Paterno's Nittany Lions as our Big Ten representative in the 2007 Outback Bowl,” stated Jim McVay, Outback Bowl President /CEO. “The Nittany Lions are a terrific team with outstanding players, coaches and enthusiastic fans. We feel they will be an excellent team to face off against a highly ranked SEC opponent.”

“This is a great opportunity to host the Penn State team and fans in our community,” noted bowl Team Selection Committee Chairman Mike Sugar. “The players and fans can look forward to having a wonderful time in the Tampa, St Petersburg/Clearwater area as we roll-out the red carpet for them.”

"We're delighted to have the opportunity to return to the Outback Bowl,” said Tim Curley, Director of Athletics. “Everyone from Penn State has had wonderful experiences during our previous trips to the Tampa Bay area. The hospitality extended to our team and fans has always been outstanding. We're excited about returning to Tampa and another chance for our loyal and enthusiastic fans to support the 2006 team one more time.”

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Penn State (8-4) has made two trips to the Outback Bowl in the past, clobbering Auburn 43-14 following the 1995 season and handling Kentucky 26-14 following the 1998 campaign. The games drew 65,313 and 66,005 fans, respectively.

It may be a while until the Nittany Lions know their Outback Bowl opponent, because the SEC season will not be complete until Florida and Arkansas meet in the championship game Dec. 2. The way that game plays out will determine which SEC teams fall into which bowls.

At this moment, Jerry Palm's projects a Penn State-Tennessee matchup in Tampa. The Volunteers are ranked 21st in the latest USA Today Top 25. Other possible opponents are No. 8 LSU and No. 13 Auburn.

Penn State's four losses this season have all come to teams currently ranked in the top nine of the current USA Today poll. So the Nittany Lions are looking for a shot at redemption against a ranked opponent. whomever it may be

“That's good,” senior defensive tackle Jay Alford said. “It will show that we're a good team and can play with the best of them.”

“It gives us a chance to go out and prove we're a good team,” added senior offensive tackle Levi Brown. “We've had some downs this year, but hopefully we'll put it together when the bowl game comes and produce.”


• Penn State played in the first Outback Bowl after the game moved to Raymond James Stadium. The Lions blitzed Kentucky 26-14 on Jan. 1, 1999.

• The Outback Bowl was known as the Hall of Fame Bowl from its inception in 1986 until 1995, when Outback Steakhouse became title sponsor.

• The Outback Bowl has been affiliated with the Big Ten since 1994.

• The highest ranked team to ever play in the Outback Bowl was No. 7 Georgia in the Jan. 1, 2005 game. The Bulldogs beat Wisconsin, 24-21.

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