Penn State to Play in TicketCity Bowl on January 2nd

Story posted December 4, 2011 in Sports, CommRadio by Dan Smith

Penn State (9-3, 6-2 Big Ten) will play in the TicketCity Bowl on January 2, 2012 against Houston (12-1, 8-0 Conference USA). The announcement came Sunday evening following the release of the final Bowl Championship Series rankings.

The team’s journey to the postseason occurred during one of the most heavily covered scandals in sports history. After barely emerging from nonconference play with a winning record, the team rattled off five straight conference wins to go into the bye week with a solid 8-1 record. But it was during this two-week break that charges against former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky led to the firing of head coach Joe Paterno and turned the program upside down.

The final three weeks of the season presented tough matchups for the team, not helped by the fallout from the scandal. A late comeback against Nebraska fell short, leaving the team in need of two straight wins to take the Leaders Division and earn a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game. A road win against Ohio State kept hopes alive, but the upset was not to be at Wisconsin, as the Nittany Lions were blown out in a 45-7 loss.

They will play Houston, who finished the regular season undefeated and lined up for a BCS bid. But a loss to Southern Mississippi in the Conference USA Championship Game crushed Houston’s BCS dreams, leaving them the second team in the conference and headed to Dallas.

Penn State finished second in the Leaders Division with a 6-2 record, losing the head-to-head tiebreaker with Wisconsin. That 6-2 mark also tied them for second best record in the conference with Wisconsin and Michigan.

Penn State finished the season ranked No. 22 in the BCS. The team’s three losses came against Alabama, Wisconsin and Nebraska, all ranked opponents. Penn State’s résumé was hurt by a lack of quality wins, but the team’s solid conference record and wins in close games helped them stay in the Top 25. Despite their record and ranking, Penn State fell to the TicketCity Bowl, making them the seventh Big Ten choice for a bowl game according to Big Ten bowl tie-ins.

The Nittany Lions will be one of ten Big Ten teams participating in bowl games. Conference champion Wisconsin will play in the Rose Bowl against Pac-12 champion Oregon. Runner-up Michigan State will play Georgia in the Outback Bowl. Michigan will take on Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl, making them one of the two non-automatic qualifiers for a BCS bowl game. Nebraska is to face South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl. Iowa will play Oklahoma in the Insight Bowl. Ohio State will play Florida in the Gator Bowl. Northwestern will face off against Texas A&M in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. Purdue will play Western Michigan in the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl. Illinois will take on UCLA in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.

The TicketCity Bowl will be played on January 2, 2012 at 12:00 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast live on ComRadio from the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.

Dan Smith is a junior majoring in Broadcast Journalism and is ComRadio’s Executive Editor. To contact him, email des5249@psu.edu.