Louisiana State and Penn State meet for just the second time in the history of these two storied programs. The first came in the 1974 Orange Bowl, a game that saw the Nittany Lions defeat the Tigers 16-9 with the deciding touchdown scored by Heisman winner John Cappelletti.
This year, LSU and Penn State feature two of the nation's top defensive units. LSU ranks in the top 20 in scoring (12th, 16.0 ppg) and pass efficiency defense (19th, 107.98 rtg.). Penn State is ranked in the top 12 nationally in total defense (8th, 227.1), rushing defense (10th, 93.9) and scoring defense (4th, 11.8).
Offense is another story as Penn State checks in at No. 36 and LSU ranks a dismal 108th.
LSU finished the regular season 9-3 overall, 5-3 in the SEC. The Tigers were No. 12 in the final BCS Standings and enter the bowl reason at No. 15 in the Congrove Computer Rankings. All three of LSU's losses have been by 10 points or less, including defeats at the hands of Florida and Alabama, both of whom went undefeated during the regular season.
The Tigers are 1-1 all time in Orlando bowl games. Its most recent game in The City Beautiful came in the 2005 Capital One Bowl, a thrilling 30-25 last-second loss to Iowa that ranks as one of the best games in Capital One Bowl history. Notably, it was also LSU's last non-conference loss.
Penn State and the NCAA's all-time winningest coach, Joe Paterno, come to Orlando for the fifth time overall, and first since 2003. The Nittany Lions lone win here in four tries was a 31-13 victory over Tennessee in 1994.
PSU will enter its New Year's Day matchup with a 10-2 record overall, 6-2 in the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions ended the regular season at No. 13 in the BCS standings and enter the bowl season at No. 9 in the CCR Top 120.
Penn State is 3rd on the list of alltime bowl wins with 26, trailing only Alabama and USC which have 31 each. The Nittany Lions have the 2nd-best win percentage in bowl games among teams with a minimum of 20 appearances, sporting a record of 26-13-2 (.659) to fractionally trail USC's 31-16 mark (.660).
LSU has an overall record of 21-18-1 in bowl games and is currently tied for the 4th-longest current bowl winning streak with 4.