The 2007 Alamo Bowl will be a rematch of the 1999 game, with Penn State squaring off against Texas A&M Dec. 29 at the Alamodome in San Antonio. The contest kicks off at 8 p.m. Eastern and will be televised by ESPN.
The per-team payout is $2.225 million.
"I feel delighted," PSU coach Joe Paterno said. "We had a great time last time we were down there. San Antonio is a wonderful city and has a great stadium. It will be a lot of fun for us. I hope we can play well and give them a good game."
Penn State (8-4, 4-4 Big Ten) and Texas A&M (7-5, 4-4 Big 12) are both coming off disappointing seasons. But that did not scare away Alamo Bowl officials. The last time these two teams hooked up in San Antonio — a 24-0 PSU win — the game drew 65,380 fans, which was then a record not only for the Alamo Bowl, but also for the Alamodome.
"We're extremely delighted to have Penn State coming down to play Texas A&M," Alamo Bowl President and CEO Derrick Fox said.
Texas A&M named Houston Texans assistant Mike Sherman as its new head coach early last week. He is replacing Dennis Franchione, who resigned following a win over Texas in the regular-season finale. Franchione was under fire for the team's poor on-field performance and due to a controversy that erupted when it was learned he was being paid to contribute to a secret e-mail newsletter that went to select A&M donors.
In this game, however, the Aggies will be led by interim head coach Gary Darnell, who was Franchione's defensive coordinator. Sherman will not take over full-time coaching duties until the Texans' NFL season is complete.
"Someone has to drive the bus," Darnell said. "There is a sense [among the players] I can do it, and that I'll drive it to the right place."
Before upsetting the then-No. 11 Longhorns in College Station Nov. 23, Texas A&M had lost to every quality team it had faced. But there was some outstanding competition in the mix. The Aggies were 6-2 through eight games, the only losses at Miami and at Big 12 upstart Texas Tech.
From there, however, their schedule turned brutal. Texas A&M was edged at home by Kansas (19-11), then was hammered on the road by Oklahoma and Missouri. All were ranked in the top 10 at the time.
The Aggies finished the regular season averaging 28.8 points per game and allowing 26.1. Led by quarterback Stephen McGee, A&M has three players who have rushed for more than 700 yards and has a total of 29 TDs on the ground. But it has only 14 passing TDs.
The team's most intriguing offensive player is running back Jorvorskie Lane, a 270-pounder who has rushed for 746 yards and 16 touchdowns. He has also caught nine passes for 82 yards and a score, and has thrown three passes, completing one for 49 yards.
Defensively, the Aggies work from a 4-2-5. They are decent against the run (allowing 4.1 yards per carry) but have been torn apart through the air. They rank No. 100 among Division I-A schools in pass efficiency defense and are allowing 264.2 passing yards per game. They have just 18 sacks, the second fewest in the Big 12.
The Alamodome seats 65,000 and features a SportsField artificial playing surface.
The Penn State coaching staff is scheduled to arrive in San Antonio Dec. 22 (a Saturday) with the Nittany Lions coming in the next day. PSU typically leaves earlier for bowl games, but can't this year due to a late finals schedule.
Texas A&M will travel by bus to San Antonio and is tentatively scheduled to arrive Dec. 24.
Penn State will be staying at the Marriott Riverwalk and Texas A&M at the Hyatt Regency Riverwalk. The PSU Blue Band will be headquartered at the Crowne Plaza Riverwalk Hotel.
This will be the fourth meeting between the Nittany Lions and Aggies. The teams played a home and home series in 1979 and 1980, with each winning on the other's field.
PENN STATE AND TEXAS A&M BY THE NUMBERS