Fed Ex Orange Bowl

Dec. 22, 2005

#3 Penn State (10-1) vs. #22 Florida State (8-4)
January 3, 2006 - 8:00 p.m. EST
ABC Sports - Miami, Florida

Penn State Website Penn State Roster Penn State Schedule Penn State Statistics
Florida State Website Florida State Roster Florida State Schedule Florida State Statistics

In a matchup where pregame discussions revolve around the two opposing coaches, ACC Champion Florida State (8-4) will battle Big Ten Champion Penn State (10-1) in the Fed Ex Orange Bowl on January 3.  It will be the first-ever BCS Bowl for the Nittany Lions, and the sixth in the past eight years for the Seminoles. 

It will be the seventh all-time meeting between major college football's two winningest coaches in Joe Paterno and FSU's Bobby Bowden, who has 359 all-time wins to put him just six ahead of Paterno.  Recently named the FWAA Coach of the Year, the Penn State legend holds a 6-1 advantage in contests against Bowden.  Both coaches are completing their 40th seasons on the sidelines.

The Seminoles are the lowest ranked team in the BCS mix at No. 22, but earned their place in the BCS bowl by upsetting then-No. 5 Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship to earn the conference's automatic berth.  Until the win over the Hokies, Florida State was on a three-game losing streak for the first time in 13 years.  The reward for their victory was a date with No. 3 Penn State, who was a last-second Michigan touchdown away from being undefeated.  The Nittany Lions took a share of the Big Ten Championship, but earned the conference's automatic berth with a regular season win over Ohio State.

Florida State Bowl Record: 22-12
Penn State Bowl Record: 25-12

Penn State on Offense...
Senior quarterback Michael Robinson's career numbers might not jump off the stat sheet, but he has all of the skills and intangibles- and 10 wins this season.  Throughout his previous three years, he has started at running back, wide receiver and part-time quarterback under Paterno. In his first season as a full-time quarterback, Robinson has led his offense by compiling 2,057 yards in the air and another 785 on the ground to account for 27 touchdowns.  Robinson, a team captain, finished fifth in the Heisman voting and was given the Big Ten's Silver Football Award for the conference's MVP by the Chicago Tribune. 

Freshmen have been Robinson's favorite targets all season long, with wide receiver Deon Butler averaging over 18 yards per catch for a total of 678 yards to lead the team in receiving.  Before he was injured, classmate Derrick Williams pulled in 22 catches for almost 300 yards and also rushed for 105 yards and two touchdowns in seven games.  While Williams missed the final four games of the regular season, he remains a possibility to return for the Orange Bowl.  Another freshman, Justin King, accounted for 327 yards and three touchdowns this season.  

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Junior running back Tony Hunt, a second-team All-Big Ten selection has taken some of the pressure off his quarterback by contributing 1,047 yards on 174 carries this season to lead Penn State on the ground. Hunt also ran for six touchdowns and caught for 203 yards.  Clearing the way for Hunt is Levi Brown, a second-team All-American tackle.

Florida State on Offense...
Just because Seminole quarterback Drew Weatherford is a redshirt freshman doesn't mean the Lions will have an easy time containing the young signal caller.  Weatherford completed almost 60% of his passes for 17 touchdowns and just under 3,000 yards.  He saw a lot of pressure towards the end of the season, when he gave up a few interceptions, but the offensive unit looked to be back in form in the ACC Championship game against Virginia Tech. 

Weatherford's favorite targets are Chris Davis and second-team All-ACC wide out Greg Carr.  The two have combined for 75 receptions and over 1,200 yards.  Davis has five touchdowns to Carr's nine.  The Seminoles also feature a tandem of running backs in Lorenzo Booker and Leon Washington.  The duo has racked up 950 yards on the ground and seven rushing touchdowns. 
On the offensive line, FSU is led by All-ACC Honorable Mention selection, and Draddy Trophy finalist David Castillo. 

Penn State on Defense...
The Penn State defensive unit boasts one of the best trios in the country.  All-Americans Tamba Hali, Alan Zemaitis and Paul Posluszny anchor a corps that ranks among the best in a tough defensive conference.

Posluszny, a junior, is the most decorated Penn State linebacker since LaVar Arrington, and like Arrington has won the Butkus and Bednarik Awards after recording 111 tackles over the regular season.  In front of him are linebackers Hali and first-team All-Big Ten selection Scott Paxson.  In the backfield, Zemaitis and another All-Big Ten first team member, Calvin Lowry form one of the best defensive backfields in college football.  Zemaitis has five interceptions on the year, with three coming against Michigan State.  Lowry was third on the team in tackles with 73.

As a unit, the Nittany Lions allow less then 100 yards per game on the ground, and allow only 16 points per game.  The Seminole front line will have its hands full trying to stop Penn State from getting to their quarterback.  The Lions, led by Jay Alford's seven, had a total of 38 sacks during the regular season.

Florida State on Defense...
Penn State will have its hands full with a Florida State defense that is packed with All-ACC selections, and allowed just over 100 rushing yards per game on average.  Senior nose guard Brodrick Bunkley was recently named an FWAA All-American after recording 57 tackles, 23 for loss and nine sacks.  Bunkley also has two fumble recoveries and 15 quarterback hurries.   Senior linebacker A.J. Nicholson, a second team All-ACC honoree, leads the Seminoles with 100 tackles on the season, and Buster Davis added 81 tackles, including 10 for loss, and a fumble recovery. 

Along with Bunkley and Nicholson, defensive lineman Kamerion Wimbley, line backer Ernie Sims and defensive back Pat Watkins were honored with selections to All-ACC teams on defense.  Wimbley was second on the team with 10.5 tackles for loss in 10 games and 17 quarterback hurries.  Sims recorded 66 tackles, including nine for loss, and two interceptions, while teammate Watkins was tied for the team lead with three interceptions and added 67 tackles.

Keys to the Game...
The game itself will most likely be a hard-hitting war that is won in the trenches.  Both teams bring dominating defenses - Penn State is seventh in the nation in sacks, and 17th in total defense while Florida State is sixth in sacks and 15th in total defense.  If Hali and Posluszny can break through Florida State's offensive line, which has been shaky at times, and get to Weatherford to force sacks and turnovers, it will make for a long day for the young quarterback. 

Conversely, Robinson will have to continue to be the leader in his last game for Penn State and carry his young backs and receivers downfield.  If Robinson can minimize his turnovers and pose a threat in the air and on the ground, as he has done all season, the Nittany Lion offense should be able to get past the tough Seminole defense.  The offensive line of Penn State will need to hold off Bunkley and his line-mates and protect its quarterback.