Nov. 29, 2001
By BRENT KALLESTAD
Associated Press Writer
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — For the first time in 15 years, Florida State heads into its season finale unranked and facing an opponent other than Florida.
“It’s a different atmosphere than we’ve had here,” Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said. “We’ll see if we can save the year.”
With a win over Georgia Tech (7-4, 4-3) on Saturday, the Seminoles (6-4, 5-2) will finish second in the Atlantic Coast Conference behind Maryland.
While Florida State’s record streaks – 14 10-win seasons and top 5 finishes in the AP media poll among them – all came tumbling down, the year was equally disappointing for Georgia Tech, which was expected to challenge for the league title as well as a national title.
However, both teams are still headed to bowl games – Florida State to the Gator, Georgia Tech to the Seattle Bowl.
The game was rescheduled from Sept. 15 after the terrorist attacks. At that time, both teams were ranked in the top 10.
Florida State then lost 41-9 on Sept. 22 at North Carolina while Georgia Tech, which hadn’t played since Sept. 8, lost an overtime game at Clemson on Sept. 29.
“I think that’s where we lost our edge,” Georgia Tech coach George O’Leary said of his team’s three-week layoff. “Football is a rhythm game.”
The Seminoles’ run, which also included nine straight ACC titles and two national championships – ended Nov. 10 when North Carolina State stopped Florida State’s 39-game ACC home unbeaten streak with a 34-28 victory.
“When you’re losing, you find out what you’re made out of,” Bowden said. “By now we should be seeing everything fit together.”
Bowden, meanwhile, wants to avoid losing three straight for the first time since 1983.
“When you’ve got a record like we’ve got right now, which is six wins, another win this year would mean a whole lot,” he said. “We still haven’t jelled like the past Florida State teams. We still haven’t had a game this year where our whole team has jelled.”
Godsey, a former high school star from Tampa, has thrown a TD pass in 10 straight games and has passed for 200 yards or more in 16 of his last 19 games. Burns is the league’s second leading rusher with 1,126 yards.
O’Leary hopes Godsey will have enough time to throw. “That’s the big thing … protection,” O’Leary said.
Florida State’s offense, led by freshman quarterback Chris Rix, should put up points against a defense that has allowed 1,253 yards and 103 points the last three games.
“I don’t know what we’re going to do because of the way we’ve responded this year,” Bowden said. “It’s been a struggle.”
Rix, the ACC’s rookie of the year, has thrown for 2,515 yards and 22 touchdowns. He has 329 yards rushing.
The Yellow Jackets are one of five ACC schools without a win over Florida State since the Seminoles joined the league 10 years ago. “But they’ve always played us good,” Bowden said. “We won by five points last year, six the year before that.”