Although the game marked LSU's third appearance in the Capital One Bowl and Penn State's fifth, it was the first time the two teams faced each other in the bowl's history, and only the second time the two teams met overall (the first being the 1974 Orange Bowl). The two teams represented the highest ranked SEC team and Big 10 team not appearing in a Bowl Championship Series (BCS) bowl game.
The game was notable for its poor field conditions. Eight state high school championship games had been played at the stadium in recent weeks, but the turf was replaced immediately after the last games on December 19. The Champs Sports Bowl, played ten days later, badly damaged the new turf. The grounds crew worked frantically over the next three days in an attempt to get the field in shape for the Capital One Bowl, but ultimately failed. As a result, this was the last Capital One Bowl to be played on grass as artificial turf was installed at the Citrus Bowl several months later.
Penn State coach Joe Paterno got his record 24th bowl win and handed Les Miles his first loss in five bowls as LSU coach. A driving rainstorm turned the field into a mud bowl. Bad footing and dropped passes were normal in the first half, and PSU fumbled the snap exchange twice though both were recovered by the offense. Quarterback Daryll Clark finished the game with 216 yards passing and one touchdown pass. LSU signal caller Jordan Jefferson threw for 202 yards 1 TD and 1 Interception, however the Tigers were held to just 41 total yards rushing. Collin Wagner's 21-yard field goal with 57 seconds left sealed the victory for the Nittany Lions.
It was Joe Paterno's 24th career bowl victory, extending his own NCAArecord, before being vacated. It had been the fourth win for Penn State in their last five bowl games.