FSU in an unfamiliar role

By Times Staff
Published December 2, 2005

TALLAHASSEE - Thirty years of coaching at Florida State has taught Bobby Bowden plenty. That experience does not include a conference championship game, however. Still Bowden and FSU seem to be taking the underdog approach in stride.

"The thing about it is you go into a game like this, whether you are 11-0 or 7-4, whoever wins this game is the champion," Bowden said. "That's an oddity, but that's the way it is. We've got to go out and play the best we can play."

Though a 14-point underdog, the Seminoles (7-4, 5-3) are 11-0 against No. 5 Virginia Tech (10-1, 7-1) since 1975.

"We used to (be the underdog) all the time when I started here," Bowden said. "Lately, that hasn't happened. But people have to remember, that's not everlasting. People think we've had it. But that's not true. This hasn't been our year. It can turn at any time. You never know when it will happen."

INJURY UPDATE: Virginia Tech running back Mike Imoh has a bum ankle but should play Saturday. Imoh has amassed 415 yards and four scores while backing up Cedric Humes .

--D.C. REEVES, Times correspondent

USF: OL is healthy

TAMPA - After making do with a patchwork offensive line for most of last week's 15-10 loss at Connecticut, USF will have its five starters healthy and in their regular positions for Saturday's regular-season finale against No. 12 West Virginia.

"That really hurt us last game," said coach Jim Leavitt , pointing to an errant snap that led to a safety and two penalties that negated a go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Center John Miller (elbow) and left tackle Thed Watson (ankle) are back from injuries, which allows the Bulls' starting guards, seniors Frank Davis and Chris Carothers , back to those positions. Redshirt freshman Marc Dile lined up with the starting line in Thursday's practice at right tackle.

CAPTAINS: Saturday's game captains will be running back Andre Hall , center John Miller , defensive end Terrence Royal and safety Johnnie Jones .

--GREG AUMAN, Times staff writer

UF: Thornton not happy

GAINESVILLE - After a disappointing season, junior running back Skyler Thornton is contemplating his future as a Gator.

Thornton has only 20 carries, none since the Mississippi State game Oct. 8.

He was competing to start before the season, and said he doesn't know why he hasn't gotten more of a chance.

Thornton was a top recruit out of LaGrange, Ga., but has never gotten extended playing time. He had 55 carries for 230 yards in 2004, and has 98 yards this season.

Thornton said he will consider looking into other schools.

"I'll have to see after the season," he said.

LEAK FILES WITH NFL: Quarterback Chris Leak has filed paperwork with the NFL's draft advisory committee to see where he would likely be drafted as a junior.

The papers wouldn't bind Leak; coach Urban Meyer said it is for insurance purposes.

"From what Chris told me, he's coming back for sure," Meyer said.

ET CETERA: Starting cornerback Vernell Brown , who broke his fibula against Vanderbilt and has been out since, told Meyer that he'll be ready for the bowl game.

"He told me three weeks, but that's not verified by our doctors," Meyer said. "He deserves to play in a bowl game."

Defensive end Ray McDonald had an MRI on his knee, but his bowl status is unclear.

--IAN FISHER, - Times correspondent