© St. Petersburg Times, published October 23, 2002
TALLAHASSEE -- It's the game of the day in college football Saturday afternoon: No. 6 Notre Dame at No. 11 Florida State.
Nine years ago, they met in what was billed as the game of the century. It was Nov. 13, 1993, in South Bend, Ind. Both the Seminoles and the Irish were undefeated. Both had 16-game winning streaks. FSU was No. 1 in the polls, Notre Dame was No. 2.
"That's what I remember, that it was hyped up," said former FSU quarterback Charlie Ward, a New York Knicks guard. "But it was a good game as far as what everybody expected it to be."
The Irish led 31-17 late in the fourth quarter when Ward, the eventual Heisman Trophy winner, led a furious comeback. He hit receiver Kez McCorvey for a touchdown on fourth and goal from the 20. After getting the ball back with 51 seconds left, Ward drove his team to the Notre Dame 14. Irish defensive back Shawn Wooden knocked down a last-second pass in the end zone to preserve a 31-24 win.
"We had the potential to do it," Ward said of coming back. "It was just a matter of doing it. We almost did. A few plays here and there made the difference. But we lived up to being No. 1 and being down and not being counted out when it looked like we weren't going to do well."
Even with the loss, FSU's resiliency persuaded the pollsters to drop it only one spot. The Seminoles reclaimed No. 1 the next week when Boston College upset Notre Dame. FSU went on to beat Nebraska in the Orange Bowl for their first national title.
"No matter how you slice it, dice it or shape it, there will be recollections of that contest that was played once before and there'll be comparisons made and there'll be tremendous buildup about the game you're playing, especially one that has the kind of conditions and surroundings and trappings that this one has," first-year Notre Dame coach Tyrone Willingham said. "It's a great foundation in which to go in and play a game."
RUNNING WILD: Senior women's cross country star Vicky Gill is someone to watch in the ACC and the NCAA. Last weekend, she won her division of the 6K Pre-National meet at Indiana State, site of this year's national championship.
Her course-record time of 19 minutes, 55 seconds was 8 seconds faster than her closest rival, Stanford's Alicia Craig.
"She wasn't even challenged down the straightaway," FSU coach Bob Braman said.
The scary part is that Gill, the ACC women's cross country performer of the week, still is learning to race. She didn't start running competitively until a few years ago.
She has changed her style from a front-runner to someone who stalks the pace and charges late.
"I've found it better to go out more controlled," she said. "I've got more confidence to know that I can finish out a race rather than trying to win it from the start."
That was the strategy last weekend.
"She had run by me and I said, 'Just wait for it and make one move, one move,' " Braman said. "She made one big move at 600 meters and pulled away."
FRESHMAN IMPACT: Women's soccer coach Patrick Baker wasn't exaggerating about the impact his freshman class would have this year, even though he had a veteran team.
It isn't just forward Leah Gallegos, defenders Teresa Rivera and Shannon Coe and midfielder Alli Ferreri who stand out. Backup midfielder Erica Lewis also has distinguished herself. .
Entering Tuesday night's game against Jacksonville, Lewis had three goals, two in a 5-1 rout at No. 19 N.C. State last weekend.
"Erica's been putting some good performances together," Baker said. "She's someone who can come in and give you good quality minutes."
BACK HOME: The volleyball team (14-7) looks to move to 12-0 at home when it plays host to ACC rivals N.C. State and North Carolina on Friday and Saturday. FSU's last home loss came to UNC in the ACC Tournament final last season.
-- Brian Landman covers Florida State athletics. He can be reached at (813) 226-3347 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org