FSU/PSU Preview

The No. 22 Florida State Seminoles (8-4, 5-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) arrived in South Florida Dec. 28 and now await their impending matchup with No. 3 Penn State (10-1, 7-1 Big Ten) Jan. 3 in the 2006 Orange Bowl. The two squads, helmed by two legendary coaches, have taken very different routes in the season-long journey to Dolphins Stadium in Miami but certainly have the same goal in mind - a victory to start the new year.

After defeating the Virginia Tech Hokies in the inaugural ACC Championship game Dec. 3, the Seminoles find themselves entering the ballgame on a high-note after a late season collapse that saw them lose three-consecutive games. The Nittany Lions, on the other hand, have experienced a season of program rejuvenation. The co-Big Ten Champions have won 12 of their last 13 games with the only defeat in that span coming by way of a last second play from the Michigan Wolverines.

The meeting in the Orange Bowl will be just the third showdown between the two national football powers with the Tribe owning a 1-0-1 series edge. Florida State is making its 8th appearance ever in the Orange Bowl while Penn State is making its 5th appearance. The Seminoles are 3-4 in the game while the Nittany Lions are 3-1.

STATISTICAL LEADERS

Rushing:

FSU - Lorenzo Booker - 112 for 550 yards and 4 TD and Leon Washington - 91 for 400 yards and 3 TD

PSU - Tony Hunt - 174 for 1,074 yards and 6 TD and Michael Robinson - 146 for 785 yards and 11 TD

Receiving:

FSU - Chris Davis - 48 for 611 yards and 5 TD and Willie Reid - 46 for 579 yards and 1 TD

PSU - Deon Butler - 36 for 678 yards and 9 TD and Jordan Norwood - 26 for 312 yards and 0 TD
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Passing:

FSU - Drew Weatherford - 252-of-426 for 2,950 yards, 17 TD and 17 INT

PSU - Michael Robinson - 141-of-272 for 2,097 yards, 16 TD and 9 INT

Tackles:

FSU - A.J. Nicholson - 53 solo, 47 assisted and 100 total and Buster Davis - 34 solo, 47 assisted and 81 total

PSU - Paul Posluszny - 60 solo, 51 assisted and 111 total and Chris Harrell - 48 solo, 38 assisted and 86 total

FSU NOTES

-Redshirt freshman quarterback Drew Weatherford has the opportunity to pass former N.C. State signal caller Philip Rivers as the ACC's all-time freshman passing leader. Weatherford, who currently has 2,950 passing yards, is just 105 yards away from passing Rivers' 3,054 yards.

-Senior wide receiver Willie Reid is just 13 yards away from reaching the 2,500 career all-purpose yards-mark. The Kathleen, Ga. Native currently has 2,048 yards for his stellar career.

KEYS TO THE GAME

FLORIDA STATE (8-4)

1) START STRONG: FSU's offense isn't built to play from behind, as evidenced in all four of its losses this season. Falling into pass-only situations is an absolute no-no opposite this defense.

2) TAKE CARE OF THE BALL: Turnovers – 17 Drew Weatherford interceptions included – have haunted the Seminoles this season.

3) BALANCE: Effectiveness running the ball led to a return to passing success against Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship game.

4) DISCIPLINE: Yellow flags cost FSU, the most penalized team in the ACC, an average of 74 yards per contest.

5) LIMIT ROBINSON: The defense must avoid letting dangerous and versatile PSU quarterback Michael Robinson find his rhythm.

PENN STATE (10-1)

1) MAINTAIN FOCUS: The Lions can't let FSU's lackluster 8-4 mark and coaching storylines distract them from the task at hand.

2) SEIZE THE DAY: Building an early lead will quiet what should be a pro-Seminole crowd and put FSU in a situation that has been devastating this season.

3) POUND THE ROCK: Despite banner seasons from defensive tackles Andre Fluellen and Brodrick Bunkely, the FSU interior – the thinnest unit on the team – has been susceptible when worn down.

4) SEE DEREK RUN: Continue to find creative ways to get the ball in the hands of freshman playmaker Derek Williams as much as possible.

5) CREATE PRESSURE: Weatherford has had a penchant for making errors in the face of the pass rush this season.


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