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'Noles ready to run gantlet

By BRIAN LANDMAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 23, 2000


TALLAHASSEE -- Like every coach, Florida State's Bobby Bowden doesn't like to look past the next game, but sometimes he can't help himself and will dare to peek.

This is one of those times.

The Seminoles, still hoping to reach the Orange Bowl and play for a second straight national championship, face their most daunting stretch of the season beginning Saturday with an emotional showdown at No. 21 North Carolina State (5-1), led by longtime FSU assistant Chuck Amato.

The No. 6 Seminoles then have home games against No. 5 Clemson (8-0) and No. 8 Florida (6-1) sandwiching a road trip to Wake Forest (0-7).

"You've just got to be up at the right time," Bowden said Sunday morning. "The kids aren't going to be up every Saturday; don't try to get them up every Saturday. You've only got so many bullets. You've got to beat them with a club some of them games. You want them sky high at the right time, then you want them to play normal."

But against that Murderers' Row, the Seminoles (7-1) may have to be up and then maintain that state of emotional and physical readiness. They have played only one ranked team this season, losing 27-24 at Miami.

"It takes care of itself when they're ranked," Bowden said. "If everybody you play is way down yonder (in the rankings), then there'd be a tendency to really slack off mentally. ... It's probably better for us that our schedule is reaching the toughest part."

INJURY UPDATE: Senior tight end Nick Franklin, a former Osceola High star, said he injured the medial collateral ligament in his right knee and will have an MRI exam today to determine if it's a tear that requires surgery. Franklin had reconstructive surgery on his left knee Sept. 17, 1999.

"I was thinking, "I don't want to go through that again,' " he said Sunday afternoon, adding the right knee "actually feels worse" than the left did when he suffered that injury in practice last season.

FOOTING THE BILL: Bowden didn't want to use it as an excuse, but he said senior quarterback Chris Weinke's average performance had something to do with his lack of practice time. Weinke continues to nurse a sore left foot. "If we had an open date, I'd set him for one week and not let him (do anything)," Bowden said.

KICKING BACK: Sophomore kicker Chance Gwaltney admitted the results of a Tallahassee Democrat online poll motivated him Saturday. He finished a distant fourth (with 10.4 percent) behind women's soccer star Emma Breland (42.3 percent), Matt Munyon (26.1) and Brett Cimorelli (21.2) in a vote of whom fans wanted to see kick. Gwaltney merely hit all three field goals and all three of his extra points against Virginia. "Maybe I'll get 15 percent next week," he deadpanned.

BOWDEN'S LAST WORD: "It was amazing. After the game, I was so disappointed offensively. I was just totally disappointed. Why can't we move the ball? ... All I remember is we couldn't make this, we couldn't make that. That's just (being) self-critical, wanting to be perfect and not being perfect. I was shocked last night. I was crying like mad when (Gene) Deckerhoff said, "Well, you got 500-something (554) yards.' "

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