FSU (8-4, 6-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) managed to reach a BCS bowl for the third time in four years after defeating Virginia Tech in the inaugural ACC championship game in Jacksonville. As unbelievable as it seems, a win in South Florida come January would be the first back-to-back victory by the Tribe since late October.
For Penn State (10-1, 7-1 Big Ten), the Nittany Lions are riding the successes of a 2005 season that has them in a post-season bowl game for the first time in three years. Outside of a last-minute play in the loss to Michigan, they could have had a legitimate case for a bid to the Rose Bowl.
But while a Seminoles victory would be the first of such in a BCS game since the 1999 championship season and a Penn State win would translate into a full return to the program's historical dominance, it is the coaches that have generated top billing. Ranked first and second, respectively, on the all-time wins list of Division 1A coaches, FSU's Bobby Bowden and PSU's Joe Paterno are who everyone is talking about leading up to the contest - not the schools or the players.
"I don't think there is anything you can do really to change that," FSU tailback Lorenzo Booker said. "You hear both coaches talk about how they want the attention to be on the guys and the players and everything we have done to get here but that's not going to happen. This is a once in a lifetime matchup."
The historical magnitude of the contest has managed to create a media frenzy nearly equal to that of the championship contest that will take place across the country in California. And it is almost entirely because of the names of the two skippers that will be roaming the sidelines.
"It's a great matchup because of that," FSU quarterback Drew Weatherford said. "It's two really good teams with two of the best coaches in the land."
Despite the fact that the game has lacked the normal promotion of its participating schools, FSU players have been focusing as though it is just another contest and not one specifically between two people.
In fact, some players have expressed just how much it means to be involved in this year's Orange Bowl.
"I am just glad to be a part of that and a lot of other guys are glad to be a part of this great game with coach Bowden and coach Paterno going at it," FSU tailback Leon Washington said. "(It's) two of the all-time winningest coaches in NCAA history. I am just glad to be a part of that."
This season, Bowden has seen his lead over Paterno in the all-time wins list take a hit due to FSU struggles and the resurgence of the Nittany Lions program. With a victory, the long-time Seminole leader would improve his impressive total to 359 while Paterno would still trail with 353 victories.
With a BCS victory on the line and the chance to help coach increase his historic totals, Garnet and Gold players know exactly what's on the line in Miami - and they know exactly whom they are playing for.
"Well, we are always playing for our head coach," Weatherford said. "We are obviously playing for Florida State but I think it just makes it a little more sweet and it makes the game that much more important."
Top billing for Bowden-Paterno
Nole Digest Top Stories
History On FSU's Side With Top-5 RankingFlorida State was ranked No. 4 in the preseason AP Poll, and their history says that's a good sign for Seminole fans.
FSU No. 4 In Preseason AP PollFlorida State will start the season as a preseason Top-5 team.
FSU QB Malik Henry SuspendedFlorida State will be without quarterback Malik Henry indefinitely.
FSU 8/20 Practice Report and HighlightsFlorida State went through their first practice of Saturday's two-a-days in pads.