By BRIAN LANDMAN
© St. Petersburg Times, published September 9, 2001
TALLAHASSEE -- Alabama-Birmingham coach Watson Brown schedules one big-name team a season, hoping that if he can get that one win, it can launch his neophyte program.
It wouldn't hurt Conference USA, either.
Entering Saturday, three C-USA teams had looked to enhance the image of their mid-level conference by visiting nationally ranked opponents. Texas Christian lost to Nebraska 21-7, Tulane to LSU 48-17 and Memphis to Mississippi State 30-10.
"Our league needs to play good opponents, but we also need to take care of ourselves a little bit and try our best to have records where if you're good enough in your league to go to a bowl, you have enough wins," Brown said. "That got us two years ago. We finished second in Conference USA, but had such a tough non-conference -- Virginia Tech, Missouri and Wake Forest, all three really good football teams that year -- and ended up 5-6 and couldn't even go (to a bowl). There is a fine line."
IT'S AN IMPROVEMENT: After being shut out in the first quarter at Duke, the Seminoles got on the scoreboard in the opening quarter Saturday. Xavier Beitia kicked a 36-yard field goal 2:45 into the game.
IT'S NOT AN IMPROVEMENT: Beitia, who had been 4-for-4 on field goals and 8-for-8 on extra points, missed a PAT early in the third quarter.
WELCOME BACK: Sophomore defensive tackle Jeff Womble, one of four returning defensive starters from the Orange Bowl, was back after serving a one-game suspension. He was arrested and charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana in July. Charges were dropped after he completed the terms of a pretrial intervention program, but FSU coach Bobby Bowden took additional disciplinary action.
CLOSING GROUND: Bowden has 317 wins, three shy of overtaking Glenn "Pop" Warner for third on the Division I-A list. Paul "Bear" Bryant tops the chart with 323 wins, followed by Penn State's Joe Paterno with 322.
HOME COOKING: FSU extended the nation's longest home winning streak to 36 games, dating to a 31-31 tie against Florida in 1994. FSU hasn't lost at Doak in 53 games.
JUST LIKE OLD TIMES: UAB's Brown faced Bowden and the Seminoles before ... as head coach of Cincinnati in 1983. The Seminoles won 43-17.
BOWDEN BOWL III: ABC will televise this year's FSU-Clemson game, the third father-son meeting of Bobby and Tommy Bowden, at 3:30 p.m. Nov. 3.
PLAY IT AGAIN: Sunshine airs a replay of the UAB game at 7 tonight and 12:30 p.m. Monday.