DALLAS (AP) – A person familiar with the decision tells The Associated Press that No. 24 Penn State will face No. 20 Houston in the Ticket City Bowl on Jan. 2.
The person requested anonymity because there was no authorization to release the matchup before the official announcement later Sunday.
The Nittany Lions (9-3) finished tied with Wisconsin for first in the Big Ten Leaders Division.
But the program is in turmoil after former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was charged last month with sexually abusing eight boys over a 15-year span. In the aftermath of Sandusky’s arrest, Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno was fired in his 46th season.
The Ticket City Bowl, played at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, had the seventh selection out of bowls with Big Ten tie-ins, after the BCS games.
Despite the horror of the allegations against Sandusky, who retired in 1999, Penn State president Rodney Erickson and interim coach Tom Bradley said the team still deserved to play in a bowl game because the players had nothing to do with the scandal that has enveloped the school and its treasured football program.
Penn State announced last week it would donate its share of conference bowl proceeds this year — about $1.5 million — to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. The revenue usually goes back to the athletic department.
“This presents an excellent opportunity for Penn State to raise the national visibility of this issue,” Erickson said last week. “Our students and fans are focused on a cause to play for, to cheer for.”
Houston (12-1) fell from a potential berth in the Bowl Championship Series to the Ticket City after getting upset by Southern Mississippi on Saturday in the Conference USA title game.
Now the Ticket City Bowl gets a relatively high-profile matchup between the Nittany Lions, who usually draw large crowds to bowl games, and the Cougars and star quarterback Case Keenum playing in their home state.
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