Florida State

Florida State Seminoles happy about return to South Florida for Orange Bowl


Coach Jimbo Fisher is hoping FSU’s first game in the Orange Bowl since 2006 is a success, and he won’t be looking past Northern Illinois.



Orange Bowl Player Breakfast

7:30-9 a.m.: The 42nd Annual Baptist Health Orange Bowl Prayer Breakfast in Support of FCA regularly features appearances and testimonies by players and coaches of the teams participating in the Orange Bowl. This year’s event will be held at Jungle Island. For more information on this event, call 305-445-1600.

2 p.m.: Billy Donovan’s Florida Gators, fresh off an Elite Eight run in last season’s NCAA Tournament, will face the Air Force Falcons at 4:30 p.m. In the 2 p.m. game, the defending Atlantic Coast Conference champion Florida State Seminoles under coach Leonard Hamilton will take on the Tulsa Hurricane, which is led by first-time head coach Danny Manning.


Bacardi Orange Bowl Rhapsody

Loews Miami Beach

7-11 p.m.: The Bacardi Orange Bowl Rhapsody is the can’t-miss social gathering of the Orange Bowl week of events.


Coaches Luncheon

11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.: The head coaches from participating universities in the Discover Orange Bowl highlight the annual AvMed Orange Bowl Coaches Luncheon presented by Deloitte. Interviews are conducted with the coaches and star players and the annual Hall of Fame class is honored. The Orange Bowl also honors the Edwin Pope Vanguard Media Award winner at Jungle Island. For tickets, call 305-341-4702.

Downtown Countdown

4 p.m.-3 a.m.: The Orange Bowl and the City of Fort Lauderdale have partnered to host the annual Fort Lauderdale Orange Bowl Downtown Countdown, the premier New Year’s Eve celebration in South Florida. Touted as one of the largest New Year’s Eve celebrations in the Southeast, the free 11-hour street festival is full of fun and excitement for children and adults. An estimated 100,000 revelers will crowd downtown Fort Lauderdale to wait for the lighted ball to drop at midnight. Event free to the public.


Bud Light Orange Bowl Game Day Fan Zone

Sun Life Stadium, Gate G

1:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.: This interactive ticket-holder event has college football fans from all over the country kick off game day with some of Miami’s hottest local talent, interactive games, sports memorabilia, stage contests, food and beverages, performances from the marching bands and cheerleaders.

8 p.m.: The Discover Orange Bowl game: Florida State vs. Northern Illinois.


The way Jimbo Fisher sees it, Florida State’s return to South Florida has been a long time coming.

Too long.

“We act like we’ve been here a bunch of times,” the Seminoles coach said Wednesday after his team stepped off its plane for the Jan. 2 Discover Orange Bowl showdown against Northern Illinois. “But we haven’t been here in a while.”

The Seminoles (11-2) will be playing in the Orange Bowl as Atlantic Coast Conference champions for the first time since 2006, when they lost here to Penn State. And they will be bidding for their first win in any BCS bowl since 2000, when they knocked off Virginia Tech for the national championship.

Then again, Northern Illinois (12-1) is playing in its first BCS bowl of any kind and is the first member of the Mid-American Conference to play in one.

“They’re 21 out of [their past] 22 they’ve won,” Fisher said. “They’ve got a quarterback [Jordan Lynch] that’s very dynamic. Can run it. Can throw. But they’ve got other playmakers, too. And on defense, they’re extremely sound.”

The Huskies might not possess the Seminoles’ stature in terms of football prominence, but at No. 16 in the polls, they’re ranked only three spots behind the Seminoles. That, in itself, puts Florida State in a more humbling spot than folks in Tallahassee had hoped originally.

At season’s start, there was talk inside Seminoles Nation of a January trip to South Florida — for the BCS National Championship on Jan. 7. But losses to North Carolina State and Florida ended all of that, and the Seminoles are having to settle for an undercard role five days in advance of No. 1 Notre Dame vs. No. 2 Alabama.

The last team to beat Notre Dame? Florida State. The Seminoles knocked off the Fighting Irish 18-14 in the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando last December.

“People remind us of that all the time,” Fisher said. “Last year, I thought Notre Dame was a great team and everybody didn’t believe me. And I thought we were, too. I thought we were two teams that were a year away from being significant in the national title [discussion].”

Fisher is even more familiar with Alabama coach Nick Saban. He was offensive coordinator at LSU when Saban was the head coach there from 2000 to ’04.

“I know [Notre Dame coach] Brian Kelly very well and, of course, Nick very well,” Fisher said. “So I will be very interested in what happens.”

But, after the Orange Bowl, Fisher doesn’t plan on sticking around to watch the national title game in person. He said he has work to do.

“We’ll be back and recruiting,” Fisher said. “We’ve got to get our own team so we can get in that game next year.”

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