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Pitt, Penn State, West Virginia all headed to bowl games

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Panthers to face Houston in Armed Forces Bowl Jan. 2, Penn State will play Boston College Dec. 27 in the Pinstripe Bowl, WVU squares off against Texas A&M in Liberty Bowl Dec. 29

Pitt, Penn State and WVU all learned of their bowl destinations on Sunday.

Pitt to face Houston in Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl
For the seventh consecutive season and 31st time overall, the Pitt football team will be going bowling.

The Panthers received their official invite Sunday afternoon from the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl and will play Houston of the American Athletic Conference in Fort Worth, Texas. The ESPN nationally televised game will be played in TCU’s Amon G. Carter Stadium on January 2 and kick off at noon (ET).

“The Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl provides our team with a great opportunity and challenge,” Pitt head coach Paul Chryst said. “We are very appreciative of the chance to play a 13th game this year and do it against a quality Houston team. Our program looks forward to the entire experience—on and off the field—in Texas.”

Chryst has led the Panthers to bowls in each of his three seasons. He is the first Pitt coach to accomplish that feat since Jackie Sherrill led each of his five Panthers teams to bowls from 1977-81.

Chryst’s 2014 Pitt team owns the distinction of being the youngest in major college football. The Panthers have 81 underclassmen (53 freshmen and 28 sophomores) on their roster, the highest total of any Bowl Subdivision team in the country. A bowl victory would give the Panthers a second consecutive winning season and—with 17 starters returning for 2015—continued momentum for Chryst’s rising program.

Pitt will be facing a Houston team that went 7-5 this season. The Panthers and Cougars have split two prior meetings. The last encounter took place in 1997 when visiting Pitt defeated Houston, 35-24. The inaugural game was in 1996, a 42-35 overtime win by the Cougars in Pitt Stadium.

Penn State and Boston College renew rivalry in New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Penn State is heading to New York City for the first time since 1947, as the Nittany Lions (6-6) will meet old rival Boston College (7-5) in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl on Saturday, December 27. 
 Penn State Mike Hull
The New Era Pinstripe Bowl will kick at 4:30 p.m. ET in Yankee Stadium. The game will air on ESPN.

The Nittany Lions and Eagles last met in 2004 when BC beat Penn State 21-7 in Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill.

“We are very excited and appreciative to be going to New York City to play in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl,” head coach James Franklin said. “Penn State has a long and storied bowl history and we look forward to another opportunity to keep our family together. I am so happy for our players, especially the seniors, for this chance to play together one more time”

In his first year as the Nittany Lions’ head coach and fourth year as an FBS head coach, James Franklin will be leading a team to a bowl game for the fourth consecutive season. He won his last bowl games while coaching Vanderbilt.

Penn State and Boston College first met in 1949. Penn State leads the series, 19-4, including a 2-1 mark in neutral site games (all in Foxboro, Mass.). The former Eastern independents played every season from 1981-92. The teams played a home-and-home series in 2003-04 and the Eagles will bring a three-game series winning streak into the Pinstripe Bowl clash.

The New Era Pinstripe Bowl is in its fifth year of being played and its first in an eight-year tie-in with the Big Ten Conference. Penn State is the first Big Ten team to appear in the Pinstripe Bowl. Boston College is making its first Pinstripe Bowl appearance as well.

Mountaineers, Aggies to meet in Liberty Bowl
West Virginia will face Texas A&M in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl on Dec. 29, marking the first-ever meeting between the two schools. Scheduled kickoff is slated for 2 p.m. ET. The Mountaineers will be making their 33rd bowl appearance.

The Mountaineers took part in the 1964 Liberty Bowl, the last year it was played at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., and lost 32-6 against Utah.

West Virginia finished the 2013 season 4-8 and missed a bowl game for the first time since 2001. Dana Holgorsen's team rebounded with seven wins this fall, including a 41-27 victory against Baylor, who closed the season ranked No. 5. The Mountaineers also suffered a last-second loss to No. 6 TCU, and played close games against No. 1 Alabama and No. 9 Kansas State.

Texas A&M won its first five games of the season before losing to three straight to teams ranked in the Top 12 (Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Alabama). The Aggies finished the season 7-5.

The Mountaineers offense is led by senior receiver Kevin White, who paced the Big 12 in receptions (102) and was second receiving yards (1,318) and touchdowns (nine).

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