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Penn State NotesNovember 21, 2006
PENN STATE IN 2006: The Nittany Lions come into the Outback Bowl with an 8-4 record and No. 25 in the BCS rankings, winning four of their last five games. Penn State has won 21 of its last 26 games overall, dating to the final two games of the 2004 season. Penn State's four losses came at the hands of No. 1 Ohio State, No. 2 Michigan, No. 5 Notre Dame and No. 8 Wisconsin. The Lions rank in the top 15 nationally in Scoring Defense, Rushing Defense, Pass Efficency Defense, Sacks and Total Defense. They rank in the top four of the conference in thirteen statistical categories.
WELCOME BACK: This will be the Penn State's third appearance in this bowl in it's 21 year history. The Nittany Lions are 2-0 in Tampa defeating Auburn 43-14 in 1996 and Kentucky 26-14 in 1999 in a game that matched LaVar Arrington and Courtney Brown against Tim Couch.
PENN STATE TRADITION: This is the 120th year of football at Penn State. The Nittany Lions are 779-343-42 making them the seventh winningest team in college football history. Along the way they have compiled seven undefeated, untied regular seasons since 1966, two National Championships and 39 bowl appearances. Over the years Penn State players have won every major award at the collegiate and professional levels including the Heisman Trophy. Twenty players and coaches have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
PENN STATE IN THE BOWLS: This is the 39th bowl appearance for the Nittany Lions and the 24th January bowl. Penn State=s bowl record is 24-12-2, the best bowl winning percentage in the nation (66.2%).
FEATURE PLAYERS: The Penn State defense is anchored by 2005 All American, Bednarik and Butkus Award winner Paul Posluszny. The inside linebacker is a 2006 finalist for the Butkus, Bednarik, Lombardi and Draddy Awards, and a semi-finalist for the Lott Trophy. He leads the team and is third in the Big Ten with 108 tackles. He also has 7 tackles-for-loss, 3 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. DT Jay Alford leads the team with 12.5 tackles-for-loss and 8 sacks. OLB Dan Connor is also a finalist for the Bednarik Award and ranks fourth in the Big Ten with 103 tackles. He has notched 8.5 tackles behind the line, 5 sacks, 2 interceptions and has forced three fumbles. DT Ed Johnson also has 8.5 stops for a loss and 5 sacks to his credit. Safety Anthony Scirrotto leads the Big Ten with 5 interceptions.
The Nittany Lions offense is led by TB Tony Hunt, the third leading rusher in the Big Ten with 1,228 yards on 246 carries (5.0 avg.). He is also ranked third in the league in All Purpose Yards with 1,480 and second in scoring with 14 TDs. QB Anthony Morelli directs the passing attack and has completed 194 of 361 attempts (53.7%) for 2,227 yards, 10 TDs and just 8 interceptions. His top targets are WR Deon Butler with 45 catches for 564 yards and 2 TDs, WR Jordan Norwood (41-437, 2 TD), WR Derrick Williams (37-413, 1 TD) and Hunt (26-252, 3 TDs).
Penn State also excels in the special teams units with WR Derrick Williams second in the Big Ten (and ranked 20th nationally) in Punt Returns with a 11.8 average, and A.J. Wallace second best in the league in Kick Returns with a 25.3 average. PK Kevin Kelly is second in the Big Ten in Scoring by Kicks and is third in the nation in Field Goals per game connecting on 20 of 29 tries and a perfect 28-28 in extra points. Punter Jeremy Kapinos is a Ray Guy Award finalist averaging 42.2 yards. THE COACH: Head Coach Joe Paterno is in his 41st year at the helm of the Nittany Lions and is the second winningest coach in Division IA compiling a 362-121-3 record. Paterno is a five-time AFCA National Coach of the Year and has guided his teams two National Championships, seven undefeated, untied regular seasons, and 33 bowl games. He was the first active college coach ever to receive the ADistinguished American@ award from the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame and will be inducted into the Hall of Fame next year.