TAMPA, Fla. - High-profile coaches and winning traditions landed Florida and Penn State a better-than-expected bowl destination.
The Outback Bowl passed over South Carolina, Mississippi State and Iowa to select teams they beat during the regular season, setting up a New Year's Day matchup of disappointing teams that began the season ranked.
The Gators (7-5) lost five of their final eight games, but got the nod over the Gamecocks (9-4) and the Bulldogs (8-4) from the Southeastern Conference. Both teams beat Florida in the regular season.
The Nittany Lions (7-5) lost two of their last three but were picked ahead of the Hawkeyes (7-5) from the Big Ten. Iowa beat Penn State in October, but dropped its final three games.
"This team has worked hard all season and has been a great group to work with," Penn State coach Joe Paterno said. "I'm happy for the squad that their efforts will be rewarded with an opportunity to go to the Outback Bowl, where we have had some wonderful experiences and be involved in a good, tough game."
No game for Owls
Temple coach Al Golden expressed disappointment that the Owls did not get a bowl invitation.
"I'm disappointed for our student-athletes, especially for a remarkable group of seniors who are the first group since 1982 to graduate Temple with a winning record," Golden said in a statement the Philadelphia school released Sunday. "It's unfortunate for everyone in the Temple community because this is a team truly worthy of a bowl. We played seven postseason teams, including all four non-conference opponents. We finished 8-4 (overall), 3-1 out of conference and beat three postseason teams, including a BCS win over Big East champion UConn."