Outback officials visit

Outback Bowl and Tampa Bay area representatives hosted the Tennessee football team and coaching staff Tuesday for lunch at a north Knoxville Outback Steakhouse. The Vols play Penn State on Jan. 1 in the Outback Bowl at Tampa's Raymond James Stadium.

Tennessee completed its next-to-last Knoxville practice Tuesday at Haslam Field, working for better than 90 minutes on the game plan for the Nittany Lions. The Vols enter at 9-3 while Penn State compiled an 8-4 record. All seven losses between the two teams came to teams currently ranked in the top 12 nationally.

Bruce Poli and Mitch Shriber from the Outback Bowl were joined by Kevin Smith from the St. Petersburg & Clearwater Convention and Visitors' Bureau for an official welcome to the 21st annual game.

"There is a lot of excitement in the Tampa area for this matchup," Poli said. "The game is a sellout and we certainly are looking forward to hosting the Tennessee Volunteers and their fans to the Outback Bowl."

Tuesday's event was an opportunity for Knoxville media members to visit with Outback Bowl representatives as well as the Vols' staff and players. In addition, Outback Steakhouse treated all attendees to lunch.

Tennessee last played in the Tampa event when it was called the Hall of Fame Bowl, defeating Boston College 38-23 in 1993 in head coach Phillip Fulmer?s first bowl appearance. Penn State owns Outback Bowl wins over Auburn (43-14) in 1996 and Kentucky (26-14) in 1999.

The Vols close camp Wednesday with a two-hour practice scheduled for 10 a.m. All players and staff are scheduled to report to the Tampa Westin Harbor Island on Christmas night, with practice beginning the next day at the University of South Florida.

Kickoff on New Year's Day is 11 a.m. Eastern time, with the Vol Network and ESPN carrying the action.

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