Former Auburn coach Terry Bowden, son of FSU coach Bobby Bowden, is ABC Sports college football studio analyst. He shared his thoughts with Times staff writer Bruce Lowitt.
By Times Staff Writer
Published October 11, 2003
Florida State-Miami has become the biggest game between the two best football programs in the country. It doesn't have the history of Notre Dame-Southern Cal or Ohio State-Michigan, but to a youthful audience it has been the marquee game in college football for the past 15-20 years.
Not only is it a state rivalry; it's a rivalry from a state that has some of the best athletes in the country, where the guys come from the same high schools. They've played against each other and known about each other all their lives.
In 14 of the past 20 years the winner has played for the national championship. Twice, in 1989 and 2000, the loser played for the national championship.
I think it'll end something like 24-20 or 24-17. There's not going to be a lot of scoring because the defenses are the strengths of these two teams, and if it's going to be determined by a field goal, it's going to be a made kick, not a missed kick, by either FSU's Xavier Beitia - remember last year? - or Jon Peattie of Miami.
The game's going to come down to which quarterback loses it. Chris Rix and Brock Berlin have a chance to be very good, but each has shown he can make costly mistakes.
Rix is much further along from an athletic standpoint and in experience. He'll be fine if he doesn't have a brain cramp where he tries to run over Miami linebacker Jonathan Vilma or throws it into a crowd. Every once in a while he has one - on and off the field - and makes poor decisions.
The day after you've been in every newspaper in the country for parking in a handicapped zone, something should register when you read a sign that says Outpatient Parking Only. The same thing should register when you have four guys covering your receiver. But I think from an athletic standpoint, Chris is much better than Brock - great speed, great arm strength. He can hurt you a lot of ways.
Brock's strength this year, according to Miami coach Larry Coker, was going to be his Ken Dorsey-ish personality, but he hasn't shown that maturity. We know he has the physical talents, but he still looks uncertain in the pocket. He'll make throws he should absolutely never make.
He's shown he can get in the shotgun, the way he did against Florida and West Virginia, and bring Miami from behind to win. So can Rix; against Georgia Tech he threw for a touchdown and ran for one in five minutes to win it.
Defensively, Miami has as much speed, as much talent or more, as Florida State. The Hurricanes have a younger defensive front four, but I don't think Florida State can run away from their secondary.
FSU has to be able to run the ball. It has to have a healthy Lorenzo Booker, because the diversity you get in styles of running from Booker and Greg Jones makes their running so tough. Miami's not going to sit back with its safeties way off the ball and let Jones run for 189 yards, the way he did last year.
I think Miami should test Florida State's cornerbacks continually, especially deep. Colorado, Georgia Tech and Duke didn't have players the caliber of wide receivers Roscoe Parrish and Jason Geathers.
If Florida State wants to be defined as a potential national champion this year - and if Miami does, for that matter - this is their defining moment. I'm not sure FSU is as much a favorite as everybody seems to be thinking since Miami played West Virginia, but I do think it's the more mature team, it's playing at home and it's going to win.