A few weeks before the regular season ended most experts and analysts had Penn State going to either going to Las Vegas, Nashville, or New York City.

Penn State was 7-5 and it was a disappointing finish after a 5-0 start. The Big Ten was top heavy and there were a lot of teams that deserved to come to Tampa.

The Las Vegas Bowl, the Music City Bowl, and the Pinstripe Bowl were the most common destinations for Penn State, but when the bids went out the Nittany Lions earned their fifth trip to Tampa. Some wondered how they got a much better bowl game. The answer is their brand.

Athletic Director Sandy Barbour says being at the Outback Bowl is proof of just how strong the Penn State brand is.

“There is no doubt that the Florida Bowls covet the opportunity to have a Penn State team, because of number one the way we travel, but number two the volume of Penn Staters who are here,” said Barbour.” So I think it does speak very directly to the strength of the brand, that is attribute to our community, that’s attribute to the leadership on our campus, and attributes specifically as it pertains to football.”

The weather in Tampa has been nice for the players and fans to enjoy during bowl week, but now they are gearing up for the big game on Saturday.