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Penn State-Florida clash set for 25th Outback Bowl

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Penn State is heading back to Tampa Bay, as the Nittany Lions will meet Florida in the 25th Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day.

Penn State and the Gators Sunday were selected to meet in the 25th Outback Bowl on Saturday, January 1, 2011. The contest will kick at 1:00 p.m. ET in Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium (65,657) will air on ABC and the Penn State Sports Network. Coach Joe Paterno’s squad will be meeting a Southeastern Conference opponent in a bowl game for the third time in the past six years.

The Nittany Lions and Gators rank among the nation’s Top 10 winningest programs over the past six years. Since the start of the 2005 season, Florida has a 64-15 record (81.0) to rank No. 4 nationally and Penn State is No. 10 with a 58-18 mark (76.3). Penn State has won two Big Ten Championships and BCS berths and won four of its five bowl games since 2005.

The Nittany Lions are playing in the Outback Bowl for the fourth time and will be participating in a New Year’s bowl game for the fifth time in the past six seasons. Penn State will be making its 25th January bowl appearance under Paterno and 37th post-season trip overall under the all-time leader in bowl wins (24-11-1) and appearances.

"We are thrilled to be returning to the Outback Bowl," said Tim Curley, Director of Athletics. "Everyone from Penn State has had an outstanding experience during our previous trips to Tampa Bay. We’re delighted to be playing in the Outback Bowl’s 25th anniversary game and one more opportunity for our great fans to support this team. The hospitality extended to our squad and fans by the Outback Bowl staff has been tremendous during our previous visits and we're looking forward to the bowl events and attractions in the Tampa area."

“This team has worked hard all season and has been a great group to work with,” stated Paterno, who is in his 45th season as head coach and is the all-time leader in victories among major college coaches with a 401-133-3 (74.9) record. “I’m happy for the squad that their efforts will be rewarded with an opportunity to go to the Outback Bowl, where we have had some wonderful experiences, and be involved in a good, tough game. It will be fun to go back to the Tampa Bay area.”

"When you talk about tradition and history of college football it just doesn’t get any better than Penn State and the University of Florida,” said Outback Bowl President/CEO Jim McVay.  “It’s our 25th anniversary game and we can’t think of a better way to celebrate it on New Year’s Day than with Coach Paterno’s Nittany Lions and Coach Urban Meyer’s Gators.”

Penn State and Florida will be meeting for the first time since the 1998 Florida Citrus Bowl and just the third time overall. The Gators won, 17-7, in the 1962 Gator Bowl and 21-6, in the last meeting in Orlando. The squads had one common opponent during the 2010 season in Alabama. The Nittany Lions lost in Bryant-Denny Stadium, 24-3, on Sept. 11 and the Gators lost, 31-6, in Tuscaloosa on Oct. 2.

Florida will be the fourth Bowl Championship Series winner from the 2009 season that the Nittany Lions have played this year, having already played at Alabama, Iowa and Ohio State.

Current Nittany Lion Club members and season ticket holders can purchase Outback Bowl tickets online now at www.GoPSUsports.com/tickets.  In order to purchase tickets online, buyers will need to have their account number and password. Nittany Lion Club members also can purchase tickets by phone weekdays from 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. by calling 814-865-5555.  The deadline for all online and phone orders is Wednesday, Dec. 8 at 5:00 p.m.

The general public can purchase tickets by phone starting Monday, Dec. 6 at 10:00 a.m. at www.GoPSUsports.com/tickets or by calling 814-865-5555. Phone orders can be made weekdays from 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.

The Nittany Lions will be making their 37th post-season trip under Paterno, who is the all-time leader in bowl wins (24) and appearances. Paterno, one of only three active coaches to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, will be taking a team to a 25th New Year’s Bowl game, having compiled a superlative 17-7 mark.

The Nittany Lions are 3-0 in their previous Outback Bowl appearances, defeating Tennessee, 20-10, on January 1, 2007; Auburn, 43-14 on January 1, 1996 and Kentucky, 26-14, on January 1, 1999. Penn State All-America wide receiver Bobby Engram was the Outback Bowl MVP vs. Auburn, All-America defensive end Courtney Brown, was the MVP in the 1999 Outback Bowl and tailback Tony Hunt earned Outback Bowl MVP accolades against the Volunteers four years ago.

Penn State ranks among the nation’s best in all-time victories, bowl visits and success. The Nittany Lions are sixth nationally with 818 victories.  Penn State has an all-time record of 818-355-42 in its 124th season.

The Nittany Lions are No. 3 in the nation with 27 post-season victories, No. 8 with 42 bowl appearances and tied for first nationally (with USC) in bowl winning percentage (66.7, 27-13-2) among schools with at least 20 bowl appearances.

Penn State has an all-time record of 17-17 vs. current members of the Southeastern Conference, with the last post-season meeting resulting in a 19-17 win over LSU in the 2010 Capital One Bowl. The Nittany Lions are 9-5 in bowl games vs. SEC teams, winning seven of the last nine. Penn State is 8-4 vs. SEC opponents in post-season contests under Paterno.

The Nittany Lions vs. SEC teams in bowl games (9-5 record):  Alabama (1-2), Auburn (1-1), Florida (0-2), Georgia (1-0), Kentucky (1-0), LSU (2-0) and Tennessee (3-0).

Paterno is the game’s most successful bowl coach. In addition to being the all-time leader in bowl victories and appearances, his impressive 68.1 winning percentage in post-season games (24-11-1), is the best among all coaches who have coached in a minimum of 15 bowl games. Bobby Bowden’s 21-10-1 (67.2) mark is second-best all-time. Paterno is the only coach to win the Rose, Fiesta, Orange, Sugar and Cotton Bowls. Paterno-led teams have won 11 different post-season contests, more than anyone in college football history.

Florida will be playing a Big Ten opponent for the first time since falling to Michigan in the 2008 Capital One Bowl. The Gators are 6-4 vs. current Big Ten members all-time in bowl games and 9-5 overall.

Student bowl tickets will be available via a walk-up sale at the Bryce Jordan Center ticket office at a time and date to be announced. Student Nittany Lion Club members will receive priority for ticket purchase and location. SNLC members are encouraged to present their membership card to expedite the buying process. There will be a two (2) ticket limit per student ID and tickets can be purchased with cash only.

Students interested in buying bowl tickets should check Student Central (www.gopsusports.com/ot/studentcentral.html) and/or The Daily Collegian this week for the date and time of the sale. Tickets will be issued at the time of purchase.

The Nittany Lions won four of their final six games and will bring a 7-5 mark into the contest with the Gators, who also are 7-5. Penn State has just eight senior starters (4 off., 3 def., 1 kicker)

Senior guard Stefen Wisniewski (Bridgeville) was selected to the AFCA All-America Team, becoming Penn State’s 78th first team All-American under Joe Paterno and 95th all-time. Senior tailback Evan Royster (Fairfax, Va,), the Nittany Lions’ career rushing yardage leader, and senior defensive tackle Ollie Ogbu (Staten Island, N.Y.) earned second team All-Big Ten accolades.

Penn State's loyal and enthusiastic fans came to Beaver Stadium to see the Nittany Lions in near record numbers this season. A total of 729,636 fans attended the seven games in Happy Valley for an average of 104,234.  Penn State has drawn 15 of its top 20 all-time home crowds over the past six years, led this season by 108,539 for the Nittany Lions’ 41-31 primetime win over Michigan.

Information on the Outback Bowl and all related events can be found on the bowl's website http://www.Outbackbowl.com.

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