UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; — Penn State returns to the VRBO Citrus Bowl for the first time since the 2009 season when the Nittany Lions (9-3) take on SEC foe Kentucky (9-3) at Camping World Stadium in Orlando on Tuesday, Jan. 1 at 1 p.m. (ET). The game will air on ABC.
The No. 12 Nittany Lions and the No. 14 Wildcats were selected today for their sixth all-time meeting and second in a bowl game. The teams last met in the 1999 Outback Bowl, which Penn State won 26-14. The trip marks Penn State’s 49th all-time bowl appearance.
“Our program is excited and appreciative to play in the Citrus Bowl,” Penn State Head Coach James Franklin said. “This is a well-deserved opportunity for the hard work our guys have put in this season. We look forward to maximizing our last month together with this family and these seniors. As always, we know our Penn State fans will turn out in huge numbers in Orlando. This is also a neat opportunity for some of our guys, like Amani Oruwariye, to play closer to home.”
“I’m elated for our football student-athletes, coaches and staff who have worked tirelessly for this opportunity in the Citrus Bowl, our third consecutive New Year’s bowl berth,” stated Sandy Barbour, Penn State Director of Athletics. “This is a reward for our student-athletes and entire football program, an opportunity to be together one more time and continue to create pride in our University. I’m thrilled that our Penn State community will get to gather in Orlando for the first time in nine years and again celebrate the Penn State family!
“Sincere thanks to Florida Citrus Sports and all the volunteers for their hospitality and work to make this bowl experience possible. We can’t wait to see our Penn State family descend on Orlando to passionately support their Nittany Lions!”
This is Penn State’s sixth appearance in the VRBO Citrus Bowl, which is the second-most of any bowl in program history. This is Penn State’s first appearance in the Citrus Bowl since the 2009 season when the Nittany Lions topped LSU, 19-17, on January 1, 2010. Daryll Clark was the Most Valuable Player with 216 passing yards and a touchdown. The Nittany Lions are 2-3 in Citrus Bowl games.
Penn State has appeared in the Citrus Bowl: Jan. 1, 1988 against Clemson (L, 35-10), Jan. 1, 1994 against Tennessee (W, 31-13), Jan. 1, 1998 against Florida (L, 21-6), Jan. 1, 2003 against Auburn (L, 13-9), Jan. 1, 2010 against LSU (W, 19-17).
Penn State is 3-2 all-time against the Wildcats with a 26-14 win in the 1999 Outback Bowl, a 30-0 victory at Kentucky in 1978 and a 10-3 win at home in 1975.
Penn State is 23-22 all-time against current SEC schools, having played 11 of the 14 SEC teams. The most recent meeting with an SEC team was in the 2016 TaxSlayer Gator Bowl against Georgia.
The Nittany Lions vs. SEC teams overall: Alabama (5-10), Auburn (1-1), Florida (0-3), Georgia (1-1), Kentucky (3-2), LSU (2-0), Missouri (3-1), South Carolina (2-0), Tennessee (3-2), Texas A&M (3-1), Vanderbilt (0-1). Penn State has never faced Arkansas, Mississippi or Mississippi State.
The Nittany Lions are playing in a bowl game for the fifth consecutive year under Franklin. The Nittany Lions topped No. 11 Washington in the 2017 PlayStation Fiesta Bowl and faced USC in the 2017 Rose Bowl after winning the 2016 Big Ten Championship.
Penn State is tied for fourth nationally with 29 bowl victories and No. 6 in bowl winning percentage with a 29-17-2 post-season record (62.5) among schools with at least 20 postseason appearances.
The Nittany Lions claimed their third-straight nine-win regular season with a 9-3 mark. The Nittany Lions have wreaked havoc in the backfield this season, leading the Big Ten and ranking No. 2 in FBS in sacks (3.58) and standing No. 4 in tackles for loss (8.3). Offensively, Penn State accounts for 424.3 yards and 34.6 points per game. The Nittany Lions have five games with 200 or more rushing yards and a pair of 500-yard games.
Senior quarterback Trace McSorley (Ashburn, Va.) paces the Penn State offense as one of five players in FBS with 2,000 passing yards and 700 rushing yards. He earned second-team All-Big Ten accolades for the third-straight season, becoming the first Nittany Lion quarterback to do so. Running back Miles Sanders (Pittsburgh, Pa.) earned second-team all-conference honors with 1,223 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. Defensively, senior cornerback Amani Oruwariye (Tampa, Fla.) and sophomore defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos (Spotsylvania, Va.) garnered first-team All-Big Ten recognition after stellar seasons. Oruwariye is fourth in the Big Ten and 17th in FBS in passes defended (1.3), while grabbing a trio of interceptions. Gross-Matos has been a constant in the backfield, ranking No. 2 in the Big Ten and No. 9 in FBS with 1.7 tackles for loss per game. He is also No. 5 in the Big Ten and No. 36 nationally with 0.67 sacks per outing.
Penn State season ticket renewals and Nittany Lion Club membership renewals also are underway for the 2019 Penn State Football season presented by PSECU. The ticket invoice and Nittany Lion Club renewal deadline is Feb. 1, 2019. For information on joining the Nittany Lion Club and purchasing new 2019 season tickets, as well as club seating in Beaver Stadium, fans can visit www.PSUnrivaled.com<www.PSUnrivaled.com>, call 1-800-NITTANY weekdays from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. or visit the Bryce Jordan Center ticket office weekdays from 10 a.m-6 p.m.
More than 1,100 new season tickets have already been sold for the 2018 campaign.
— Release courtesy Office of Strategic Communications Penn State University