Lions return to bowl

Posted: Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Penn State returned to the postseason after a two-year absence, accepting an invitation Tuesday to play in the Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Fla.

The Nittany Lions will oppose a team from the Southeastern Conference in the game formerly known as the Florida Citrus Bowl. Still in the running for the game to be played Jan. 1 are Georgia, Arkansas and Auburn (8-4), said Tom Mickle, the bowl's executive director.

No. 4 Georgia (11-1) plays No. 22 Arkansas (9-3) in the SEC championship game Saturday. The winner of that game will likely play in the Sugar Bowl.

Penn State's acceptance ended nearly two weeks of uncertainty concerning the 10th-ranked Nittany Lions' postseason plans.

''I cannot tell you how many people, including my own family, have said to me, 'Where are you going?' My mother in law is driving me nuts,'' coach Joe Paterno said.

Penn State (9-3) was chosen instead of No. 3 Iowa.

''We were informed by the Big Ten that the clock was running, it was our turn to pick and Iowa and Ohio State were not available,'' Mickle said.

The Hawkeyes (11-1) are eligible for at-large BCS bowl berths in addition to Notre Dame, Texas and Kansas State. Southern California, Oklahoma and Georgia could be added to that mix if they don't win their respective conference titles, the BCS said Tuesday.

Only teams ranked in the BCS' top 12 are eligible for the four top bowl games -- the Fiesta, Sugar, Orange and Rose.

The Fiesta Bowl will host the national championship game, which will have No. 2 Ohio State against No. 1 Miami if the defending champion Hurricanes beat Virginia Tech on Saturday. Miami already has clinched a BCS berth because it holds the tiebreaker for the Big East title.

Four other bowls issued invitations Tuesday to at least one team:


No. 23 Florida will be staying close to home, meeting Michigan on Jan. 1 in Tampa. The Gators (8-4) will be facing No. 13 Michigan (9-3) for the first time.

Purdue (6-6) accepted an invitation to play in El Paso, Texas, for the second straight year. The Big Ten team will face a Pac-10 team Dec. 31.


Minnesota (7-5) accepted an invitation to play in the Music City Bowl on Dec. 30. The Golden Gophers will play a team from the Southeastern Conference, which should be decided after that league's championship game.


Pittsburgh will go to the Insight Bowl in Phoenix on Dec. 26. The 25th-ranked Panthers (8-4), from the Big East, will face a Pac-10 team.


A Big 12 team will oppose Wisconsin (7-6), which accepted a berth in the in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 28 in San Antonio.

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