Tradition-laden schools amped for Pinstripe Bowl
Two of the Northeast's proudest universities and football programs will be in New York for the holidays, experiencing all the Big Apple has to offer during the season before clashing on the gridiron at one of the most hallowed grounds in sports.
The fifth edition of the New Era Pinstripe Bowl will pit Penn State (6-6) against Boston College (7-5) at 4:30 p.m. ET on Dec. 27 at Yankee Stadium. It is the first time either team has participated in the event (and the first time a team from the ACC or Big Ten has appeared), but neither team is stranger to the college football spotlight.
"This year's game is an incredible, incredible game," Yankees president Randy Levine said on Tuesday. "This is an old-school matchup between two awesome Northeast schools. Great, great universities who've had great traditions and great players that are household names.
"This is a great matchup for us. Penn State, Boston College, Yankee Stadium, Christmas time. I don't think it could ever get better than that."
The Nittany Lions will be making their 45th bowl appearance (tied for ninth most nationally), but first under first-year head coach James Franklin. The program has 27 postseason wins, which is fourth most in the country and best among Big Ten schools.
The Eagles, meanwhile, will be making their 24th bowl appearance and second in a row under head coach Steve Addazio.
"I had to go outside and I had to look inside the stadium," Addazio said. "Growing up in Connecticut, and coming down with my dad to Yankee Stadium, I never really thought there'd be a day when I could take the field at Yankee Stadium, the greatest sporting venue in the world.
"Our kids wanted to be here more than anything in the world."
Franklin can't wait to take the field at Yankee Stadium.
"I think it's awesome," said Franklin. "Two regional institutions coming together to play a game in the Northeast at one of the most storied stadiums in the country. I think it's just an unbelievable opportunity."
Fans of the Nittany Lions can't wait to descend upon Yankee Stadium, said Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour.
"We are obviously hearing from them," said Barbour. "We will probably exceed our ticket allocation later this afternoon and you will see the Penn State Nation descend on New York and on Yankee Stadium on the 27th."
Bowl executives, who have seen more than 38,000 fans come through the turnstiles each year since the inaugural game in 2010, are hoping the passionate and local fan bases can embrace the event more than ever.
Mark Holtzman, the executive director of the bowl, outlined some of the activities for the teams during the week of the game, including: the Radio City Christmas Spectacular on Christmas night, team dinners in Little Italy, a bus tour of the city, a visit to the 9/11 Memorial, visits to the Memorial Sloan Kettering pediatric unit and a clinic for Bronx-area youth.
"All in all, we believe it's going to be a terrific week," Holtzman said.
Yankee Stadium has played home to college, professional and high school football since the 1920s. The Yankees, as well as administrators from the two universities, are hoping this year's bowl game will be the next memorable chapter.
"Everybody -- whether you're a great Yankee or a college football player or a concert singer -- it's memorable to say, 'I played at Yankee Stadium,'" Levine said. "And that's the great lore of this."