STATE COLLEGE — Joe Paterno had recruits over to his house and the Virginia Tech-Florida State game on TV in the background.

Even with his attention divided, Penn State’s head coach couldn’t help but notice what the Hokies learned first hand in their upset loss on Saturday in the ACC championship game.

“I tried to keep one eye on the game,” Paterno said Sunday during a teleconference after he learned his team would face Florida State on Jan. 3 in the Orange Bowl. “They played tough, hard football. It’s what Florida State football is all about.”

Paterno, who will turn 79 later this month, took a lot of questions about the matchup with fellow senior citizen Bobby Bowden, Florida State’s 76-year-old head coach. They are also major college football’s two winningest coaches — Bowden has 359 wins, six more than Paterno.

Paterno is one up on Bowden in bowl victories, 20-19.

But the coach preferred to keep the attention on the players. The Nittany Lions (10-1), who have been idle since wrapping up a piece of the Big Ten title with a win over Michigan State on Nov. 19, watched the BCS announcement on TV at a lounge at the school’s football facility.

The Seminoles (8-4) are recovering from their victory over the Hokies that ended Florida State’s three-game skid and secured them the conference’s BCS bid.

“They went after the ball game last night with a vengeance,” Paterno said.

“I think we got a great matchup,” he added. “I’d be very reluctant to think that since Florida State had a couple losses prior to the Virginia Tech game and not realize how good a football team they are.”

The Nittany Lions will meet on Monday to start preparations. They’ll use some of the next month to get ready for finals, too, which start in the next couple weeks.

Penn State finished third in the BCS standings and were hoping for a loss by Southern California or Texas to possibly send them to the national title game at the Rose Bowl.

But the Trojans and Longhorns each handily won their games on Saturday and finished the regular season undefeated.

Penn State is 3-1 in the Orange Bowl, with its last appearance coming on Jan. 1, 1986, when the undefeated Nittany Lions lost to also unbeaten Oklahoma, 25-10, in the national title game.

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