UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State and LSU are two traditional college football powers that have a lot more in common than you might imagine.
It should make for an interesting matchup between the No. 11 Nittany Lions and No. 13 Tigers in the Capital One Bowl on New Year's Day in Orlando, Fla.
LSU coach Les Miles, 56, has led the Tigers to a 51-14 record the past five seasons. That includes a 4-0 bowl mark, two Bowl Championship Series games, a national championship and a Southeastern Conference crown.
• Game: Penn State (10-2) vs. LSU (9-3).
• When: 1 p.m. Jan. 1.
• Where: Orlando, Fla.
• TV: WTAE.
Penn State coach Joe Paterno, 13 days shy of his 83rd birthday, has gone 50-13 the past five years, with a 3-1 bowl record, two BCS games and two Big Ten Conference titles.
The Lions (26-13-2) will be appearing in their 42nd bowl game, the Tigers (21-18-1) in their 41st.
Penn State (John Cappelletti, 1973) and LSU (Billy Cannon, '59) have each had only one Heisman Trophy winner. The Tigers have won two national titles since 2003. The Lions have won two in Paterno's 44 seasons, but none since 1986.
LSU has beaten one ranked team this year; Penn State has beaten none. The Tigers were ranked No. 4 before losing to then-No. 1 Florida, 13-3, at home in the sixth game. The Lions were ranked No. 5 before losing to then-unranked Iowa, 21-10, at Beaver Stadium in the fourth game.
Penn State and LSU have met just once before - in the Orange Bowl at the end of the 1973 season. Cappelletti scored the winning touchdown in the Lions' 16-9 victory to finish off a 12-0 season.
Miles, who was an assistant at Michigan when the Lions joined the Big Ten in 1993, went out of his way to praise Paterno, the winningest coach in Division I-A history with a record of 393-129-3.
"We recognize that coach Paterno is one of the great coaches of all time," said Miles, who has a 79-35 mark in nine seasons at LSU and Oklahoma State. "I have visited with him briefly on a couple of occasions.
"I have great admiration and respect not only for his longevity, but how he has guided that program through the different times and how well he's done."
Paterno has admired the Tigers' program from afar for a number of decades.
"You always try to watch people who are successful," he said. "I've seen a lot of LSU games live on TV and I've also watched tapes. We have people tape just about every game that's on television.
"I've looked at LSU to watch some of the things they do defensively and offensively. I know a little bit more about them than maybe I would somebody else, because they have been so successful.
"We're all copycats. Some of the things they've done, I've tried to put into what we're doing."
The Tigers finished in second place in the SEC Western Division with a 5-3 record. The Lions tied Iowa for second in the Big Ten at 6-2.
"The Penn State team will be trained and as prepared as well as any," Miles said. "My background in the Big Ten allows me to recognize that it will be a very physical contest."
NOTES - Record-setting quarterback Daryll Clark was named MVP of the team at a senior awards banquet Sunday night. He is one of three finalists for the Silver Football Award, presented to the Big Ten's MVP. The winner will be announced tonight. ... Former All-American linebacker Brandon Short (McKeesport) was presented the Alumni Athlete Award. He played seven seasons in the NFL and is on schedule to graduate in May 2010 from the Columbia University School of Business. ... Outside linebacker Sean Lee (Upper St. Clair) was presented with the Ridge Riley Award for "sportsmanship, scholarship, leadership and friendship." ... Former All-American tailback Curt Warner, the school's career rushing yardage leader, will be inducted into the college football Hall of Fame tonight. ... LSU is investigating "possible violations" in its football program. The probe involves an assistant coach and a player who has not played in a game this year.
For more on Penn State, read Ron Musselman on Penn State at post-gazette.com/plus. Ron Musselman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .