Penn State’s history in the Outback Bowl dates back to 1996. The Nittany Lions are 3-1 all-time during the New Years Day contest and are set to take on Arkansas for the first time in program history.
Penn State has had many memorable moments in the Outback Bowl from 1996’s slip n slide to Joe Paterno’s final Bowl in 2011. In those games have come a few of Penn State’s greatest performances. In 2007 they defeated Tennessee 20-10 thanks to a dominant effort by the offensive line, which allowed game MVP Tony Hunt to rush for 158 yards.
A.Q Shipley, now a coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was one of the anchors on the line and he remembers the game coming down to the wire.
“We got the ball back late in the fourth with a chance where we could close it out,” said Shipley. “We took some time off the clock and we just kept running power, power, power one after another and we just took the road at the end which was cool.”
Raymond James Stadium has been the home of the Outback Bowl since 1999 and it’s also home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where Shipley is now an assistant coach. Things came full circle for Shipley by playing in a Bowl game on that field and also making his NFL debut.
“My first NFL game as a player with the Steelers was in Tampa – a preseason game as well,” Shipley said. “A lot of foreshadowing there. This stadium has been good to me winning the Outback Bowl early in my career and then winning the Super Bowl later in my career.”
Joe Nastasi played in two different Outback Bowls while donning the blue and white, and it was in 1999 where he scored his final collegiate touchdown which sparked a 23-0 run for the Nittany Lions as they came from behind to defeat Kentucky 26-14.
“It was just a little crossing route. We called it a rub route, not a pick route and hit them on the other side of the field,” said Nastasi. “It was a good throw and we just got freed up on the other side of the field.”
For Nastasi, he remembers the games well, but he also thinks back on the events leading up to each contest.
“Bull riding contests with the stationary bull and they would do contests with steak eating. Which team could eat the most steak. You know just kind of fun events that they set up during the week for good competition with each team.”
Penn State’s last trip to Tampa cam in 2011 where Florida beat the Nittany Lions 37-24 in their only loss in the Outback Bowl.