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Pitt earns invitation to New Era Pinstripe Bowl, Penn State heads to Rose Bowl, WVU to Russell Athletic

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Big Ten champions Penn State will head to the Rose Bowl to face Southern California, while Pitt -- whose 42-39 win over the Nittany Lions essentially kept Penn State out of the College Football Playoffs -- will take on Northwestern in the Pinstripe Bowl.

Pitt officially accepted an invitation this afternoon to face Northwestern in the 2016 New Era Pinstripe Bowl, played at iconic Yankee Stadium in New York City on December 28.

This will be the Panthers’ 33rd all-time postseason appearance and first in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, which will be nationally televised by ESPN and kick off at 2 p.m.

On the strength of a three-game winning streak, the Panthers enter the postseason with an 8-4 record and boasting Top 25 rankings in the Associated Press poll (No. 22) and College Football Playoff ratings (No. 23). Pitt figured heavily in the final College Football Playoff rankings, giving No. 2 Clemson its only loss (43-42) and essentially keeping No. 5 Penn State out of the field by defeating the Nittany Lions, 42-39.

“Congratulations to our student-athletes and coaches for finishing an exciting regular season on a fantastic high note and earning a Tier One bowl bid,” Pitt athletic director Scott Barnes said. “I want to thank the New Era Pinstripe Bowl for their strong interest in selecting Pitt as the ACC representative. Our fans love New York City and I know they are excited to rally around our team. We fully anticipate that Panther Nation will continue the great travel momentum established last year. I can’t wait to see everyone in New York City.”

“On behalf of our football program, I would like to thank the New Era Pinstripe Bowl for the opportunity to play in this year’s game,” Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi said. “We are thrilled about the opportunity to play a bowl game in a world-class city and prestigious venue. I’ve heard so many tremendous things about the first-class treatment provided by the Yankees. We are looking forward to the experience and especially the challenge of facing Pat Fitzgerald’s Northwestern team, a coach and program I respect tremendously.”

This will be the seventh all-time meeting between Pitt and Northwestern, but the first in a postseason game. The schools last played during the 1973 season, a 21-14 Pitt victory in Evanston. The overall series is tied at three wins apiece.

The Wildcats finished with a 6-6 regular-season record, including wins over bowl-bound teams Iowa (38-31) and Indiana (24-14).

Pitt has played twice before at Yankee Stadium. The Panthers went 1-1 in those games, defeating Army (7-6) on Nov. 17, 1962, while losing to Syracuse (3-0) on Oct. 20, 1923.

Penn State returns to the Rose Bowl and also makes its first trip to a California bowl for the first time since the 2008 season when the Nittany Lions take on Pac-12 foe USC in the 103rd annual Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual on Monday, January 2 at 5 p.m. (ET). The game will air on ESPN. The Nittany Lions last played in the "Granddaddy of Them All" in 2009.

The No. 5 Nittany Lions and the No. 9 Trojans were selected today for their 10th all-time meeting and third in the Rose Bowl Game. The teams last met in the 2009 Rose Bowl Game, which USC won, 38-24. The trip marks Penn State's 47th all-time bowl appearance.

"I'm thrilled that we'll be representing the Big Ten Conference as we travel to Pasadena for the 103rd Rose Bowl," stated Sandy Barbour, Penn State Director of Athletics. "This is an opportunity for this group of young men to be together yet one more time, proudly representing the Blue and White as they have done all season. It also gives our Penn State family a chance to gather in Southern California for the first time since the 2009 Rose Bowl, and we know our Nittany Lion community will show up in strong support of this football team, and our great University. A sincere thank you to the Rose Bowl Committee and the many volunteers for the work that they do to make this experience one of a kind! We look forward to seeing all great Penn Staters in Pasadena."

"We are very appreciative of the Rose Bowl Committee and are excited to be heading to Pasadena," Penn State Head Coach James Franklin said. "This season has been very special in a number of ways and we are looking forward to keeping our family together for another month. The Rose Bowl is the "Granddaddy of Them All" and we are proud to represent Penn State and the Big Ten Conference. We want to see our amazing fans in Pasadena to continue this fantastic ride on January 2."Penn State Saquon Barkley
This will be Penn State's fourth appearance in the Rose Bowl Game, with the last time coming in the meeting against the Trojans in 2009. Penn State is 1-2 all-time in the Rose Bowl. The Lions made their first-ever bowl appearance in the Rose Bowl against USC in 1923, a 14-3 loss. Penn State did not return to the Rose Bowl against until 1995 when Ki-Jana Carter led the Nittany Lions to a 38-20 win over Oregon.

Penn State is tied for fourth nationally with 28 bowl victories and No. 3 in bowl winning percentage with a 28-16-2 post-season record (63.0) among schools with at least 20 postseason appearances.

No. 16 West Virginia (10-2) will play Miami (8-4) in the 2016 Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando.

West Virginia is coming off its first ten-win season since 2011 and the ninth overall in program history and finished third overall in the Big 12 Conference. Meanwhile Miami won eight games in its first season under new head coach Mark Richt and the Hurricanes finished tied for second in the ACC Coastal.

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