ORLANDO (CBSMiami/AP) — Florida International will play in the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.

The Golden Panthers, from the Sun Belt Conference, accepted the bid Saturday and will face a Conference USA opponent on December 20th.

“On behalf of our great university, it is with great excitement that our football program accepts this bid to the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl,” FIU Football Head Coach Mario Cristobal added. “2011 has been another historical season for our program, and playing in a bowl right here in our home state is a tremendous opportunity for our student athletes and fans.”

It is their second consecutive bowl selection and caps a program-best 8-4 finish.

“We are very honored to be invited to the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl,” FIU Executive Director of Sports and Entertainment Pete Garcia said. “I am excited for both our team and our fans. This will give our fans an opportunity to watch their football team finish off a great season.”

FIU won its first-ever bowl game over Toledo last season in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.

The Beef O’ Brady’s Bowl was slated to be a matchup of a C-USA and Big East team, with South Florida, Pittsburgh and Connecticut all having a chance to qualify for the Big East’s tie-in entering the final week.

USF and UConn both lost. Pittsburgh beat Syracuse Saturday, but is also eligible to be selected by another bowl. The Sun Belt had the next tie-in.


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