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Penn State in Outback Bowl; JoePa status unclear

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Penn State will play in the Outback Bowl, making back-to-back bowl appearances for the first time since the 1998 and '99 seasons.

The Nittany Lions (8-4, 5-3 Big Ten) accepted the bid Tuesday to the Jan. 1 game in Tampa, Fla., where they will play a team from the Southeastern Conference.

The Nittany Lions, who beat Florida State 26-23 in last season's Orange Bowl, last went to the Outback Bowl in 1998, defeating Kentucky 26-14. Penn State shut out Texas A&M 24-0 in the 1999 Alamo Bowl.

Exactly how involved injured coach Joe Paterno will be in the Outback Bowl is unclear.

Doctors have ordered the 79-year-old to stay off his feet for at least one more month as he recovers from surgery to fix a fractured shinbone and torn knee ligaments in his left leg. Two players leveled Paterno during a Nov. 4 sideline collision at Wisconsin.

Paterno watched the team's Nov. 11 win over Temple from home. He returned to Beaver Stadium last weekend for Penn State's 17-13 win over Michigan State, watching from the press box with his assistants.

Team doctor Wayne Sebastianelli has said Paterno could potentially coach in a bowl game from a golf cart along the sidelines provided his recovery is going well.