DALLAS, Texas; December 27, 2011 - The Penn State football team resumed practice today with its first workout in Texas in preparation for its TicketCity Bowl clash against No. 19 Houston on Monday, January 2. The first bowl game of 2012 will kick at 11 a.m. at the historic Cotton Bowl.
Following a four-day break for Christmas, the No. 22 Nittany Lions gathered here Monday and held their first Dallas practice today under sunny skies with temperatures in the mid-50's. Sunny and warmer conditions are forecast for the remainder of the week in the Metroplex.
The Nittany Lions (9-3) will practice today through Saturday at Bishop Lynch High School in preparation for its match-up with the 12-1 Cougars. The teams will be meeting for the first time since 1977 and just the third time overall, with Penn State winning the initial two meetings.
Prior to today's practice, interim head coach Tom Bradley met with the media. Bradley said that quarterback Paul Jones and cornerback Derrick Thomas are not on the trip for academic reasons and that wideouts Curtis Drake and Shawney Kersey did not travel to Dallas for personal reasons. All four players are on the team, but won't be available for the game with Houston.
Bradley said that wide receiver/kicker and former high school quarterback Evan Lewis would play the Cougars' record-setting quarterback, Case Keenum, in practice the rest of the week.
"Any time you go on a bowl trip, you want the players to enjoy the city," Bradley said. "We have been on a lot of bowl trips in a lot of different cities. We have encouraged them to enjoy it and learn and to get a feel for the city...I want them to go out and have a good experience in this city."
Bradley also spoke about Houston, who leads the nation in scoring (50.8 ppg), total (599.0 ypg) and passing offense (443.8 ypg).
"We have not played anybody like (Houston) with the way they move the football," Bradley said. "To duplicate what they do is very, very difficult for us. We haven't seen anybody like them in a long time, with the way they move the football...Any time you play a team like this, you need to tackle well and keep the ball in front of you."
No. 22 Penn State and No. 10 Wisconsin tied for the Big Ten Leaders Division title with 6-2 records. The Nittany Lions are seeking their third 10-win campaign in the last four years. Penn State's 27 bowl wins are No. 3 nationally and 43 bowl visits are good for No. 8 in the nation. The Nittany Lions lead all Big Ten teams in bowl victories and winning percentage (65.1, 27-14-2 record) and are No. 2 in bowl appearances.