Clash of the Titans

QUICK PREVIEW: College football coaching legends Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden and their legendary programs are set to square off in the 2006 Orange Bowl. Get the lowdown on the game and the teams involved.

Who: Penn State (10-1) vs. Florida State (8-4)

What: FedEx Orange Bowl

Where: Dolphins Stadium (capacity 72,230), Miami, Fla.

Date: Jan. 3, 2006

Time: 8:00 p.m. EST

TV: ABC

FOS Quick Preview: Had the BCS not been in place, Penn State would be going to the Rose Bowl to face the Pac-10 champion, USC. But the Lions will now face Bobby Bowden and the surprising Seminoles in the FedEx Orange Bowl. This game has more storylines than any other bowl game. Two legendary coaches, two maligned family members who are assistant coaches, and a senior QB who is trying to punctuate a career vs. a freshman QB who is trying to set the tone for years to comes.

Bowden leads the Seminoles into the Orange Bowl after a shocking win over Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship. Though Bowden’s team struggled with injuries and turnovers, the Seminoles were able to pull together a stellar performance when it mattered most. QB Drew Weatherford has plenty of skill players who can push the ball downfield. But the lack of offensive line support was the main reason for FSU’s losses at Clemson, Florida, N.C. State and Virginia. The Seminole defense is still an awfully good unit, giving up only 301 yards per game. They bring pressure up the middle and they have a very physical group of LBs and secondary. But it’s not defense that keeps Bowden up at night. It’s the terrible rushing attack and a negative turnover margin that have kept the Seminoles out of the national championship hunt this season. But, with time to practice between now and the Orange Bowl, the Seminoles will certainly be ready to play an outstanding Penn State team.

Penn State’s Joe Paterno has not been to the Orange Bowl since 1986 (1985 season), when his Lions lost to Oklahoma for the national championship. Now the Lions return for their first BCS bowl since its inception in 1999. Paterno leads a squad that was able to navigate through a difficult schedule in order to win the Big Ten title for the first time since 1994. Paterno has won with the same formula that he has used for decades — senior leadership, a solid defense, sound kicking and a highly effective running game. But the real story this year has been the play of senior QB and Co-Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year Michael Robinson. After playing WR, RB and even returning punts earlier in his career, Robinson was finally asked to step under center and lead the Lions’ offense full time in 2005. Thanks to an injection of young talent and an experience offensive line, they lit up scoreboards all year long. With a senior-laden defense, the Lions were able to put away team after team, their only loss coming in the last second at Michigan. Now, State needs to focus on the Seminoles in order to finish off this dream season.

Though the BCS has fouled up Penn State’s opportunity to play the top team in college football, having the chance to face the legendary Florida State coach and his Seminole team is a real treat. On Jan. 3, college football fans will get the rare chance to see two of the greatest coaches in college football square off for probably the last time.

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