A great makes it official
FSU up to the challenge
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 5, 2000
TALLAHASSEE -- Last year, Florida State fans had their fiesta end early.
Tuesday night was sweeter as the top-ranked Seminoles beat No. 2 Virginia Tech 46-29 in the Sugar Bowl to win the national championship and finish an undefeated season.
"There's going to be some hard partying tonight. I expect to see the sun rise," said Sandra Walters, a Florida State senior.
The sound of horns honking filled the air near campus shortly after the game ended. Police were out in force along the strip near the school hoping to keep the crowd from getting too rowdy.
Florida State students were scheduled to return to class today after winter break.
Many were likely to miss the first day of the semester.
"I have a 9 a.m. music class tomorrow but this doesn't happen very often," sophomore Paul Lesko said. "We have a keg waiting in our apartment."
While it doesn't happen that often -- Florida State won its other national championship in 1993 when it beat Nebraska 18-16 in the Orange Bowl -- fans here are still used to celebrating big victories.
"We're the center of the football universe," Rachel Zimmer, a 19-year-old sophomore at FSU, said before the game.
The scene was more subdued after last year's national championship game.
Florida State fans gathered at sports bars near campus but went home disappointed as the Seminoles lost to Tennessee 23-16 in the Fiesta Bowl, giving the Volunteers the national title.
That just seemed to prime them for a bigger party.
"Last year they should have beaten Tennessee, so winning this year will make up for it," said Leslie Sedgewick, watching the game at a sports bar near campus.
For others, it was a chance for the Seminoles to return to past glory. Florida State graduate Al Watson was a senior in 1993. That year, FSU beat Nebraska 27-14 in the Orange Bowl. The next season, coach Bobby Bowden finally won his elusive first national title.
He didn't get to New Orleans but did the next best thing to cheer on his alma mater. He traveled to Tallahassee from his home in Tampa.
"I had to see if they could do it again," Watson said.
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