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Seminoles' last loss to Gators a motivator

By BRIAN LANDMAN, JOANNE KORTH, Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 18, 2000


TALLAHASSEE -- Florida State senior linebacker Brian Allen doesn't shrink from the past and his team's frustrating loss to Florida in 1997.

The undefeated Seminoles led 29-25, only to see the Gators go 80 yards in three plays for the winning touchdown, ending FSU's hopes for a shot at a piece of the national title.

"I'm sure it will be mentioned, the fact that we had the game won and in the last minutes of the ballgame, we gave it up," Allen said. "Not the offense, not special teams, but the defense gave it up in the last two minutes of the game. It needs to be mentioned."

DOUBLE DUTY: With tailback Jeff Chaney out for the rest of the season with a knee injury, the Seminoles will use sophomore receiver Anquan Boldin on kickoff returns. Boldin has returned one kick this season for 15 yards and three for 55 yards as a freshman. He joins sophomore receiver Talman Gardner, who leads the team with seven returns for 151 yards (21.6 average).

"We've been blue collar," FSU coach Bobby Bowden said of his team's kickoff returns.

BOWDEN TRICKERY: Bowden is renowned for trick plays, but uses them less frequently these days. Today may be no different.

"We lost our wrinkle; he's playing at Cincinnati now," Bowden said, referring to Peter Warrick. (Warrick scored on a 4-yard run last season and threw a touchdown two years ago to seal the win.) "I'm sure both of us will have some wrinkles, how much I don't know."

CODY SAYS: FSU senior cornerback Tay Cody on UF's freshman receiver Jabar Gaffney: "You definitely have to say he's in there with the great receivers in the country. Every time you turn on your television, it's Gaffney with 100 yards or he's making a big play. I know he's another great receiver to go down in their legacy; Florida always has the good receiver corps with Jacquez (Green), Ike (Hilliard), Reidel (Anthony). I guess he's going to be a part of that little tandem there."

NOTHING BUT A NUMBER: While Heisman voters across the country debate whether a 28-year-old quarterback should be eligible for college awards, Florida players don't seem bothered by the fact that FSU's Chris Weinke is older than they are.

"He has pads on, just like we have pads on," UF senior linebacker Daryl Owens said. "He's pretty old, but he's a good 28-year-old. He can throw the ball. He's not thinking he's 28. He's thinking he's still in college."

Defensive tackle Derrick Chambers sounded a bit envious of Weinke.

"When I'm 28, I hope I'm doing something that I love," he said.

FICKLE FANS: Miami no doubt will be pulling for the Gators today, hoping to eliminate the possibility of Florida State jumping the Hurricanes in the BCS standings. If Florida comes through, Miami would root against the Gators in the SEC title game for the same reason.

"Yeah, it's pretty ironic," UF offensive lineman Mike Pearson said.

FEELS LIKE HOME: Forecasters are calling for game-time temperatures in the 40s, which would easily be Florida's coldest game of the season. But the Gators aren't worried.

"We have a lot of northern players," coach Steve Spurrier said. "Our quarterbacks are from Indiana and Canada, so they will feel right at home."

Freshman Rex Grossman is from Bloomington, Ind. Senior quarterback Jesse Palmer is from Ontario. Both will play, Spurrier said.

CHASING PERFECTION: Florida State's seniors can chalk up an impressive milestone tonight: a perfect record at home.

Florida State players have walked off the field victorious at Doak Campbell Stadium in 34 consecutive games. The 31-31 tie against Florida on Nov. 26, 1994, was the Seminoles' last non-win at home.

To find Florida State's last home loss, check Nov. 16, 1991. The unbeaten streak at Doak is at 51 games entering tonight.

"We've had a great run," senior center Jarad Moon said.

This season's seniors have been a part of five losses: in bowl games to Florida and Tennessee, and on the road to Florida, N.C. State and Miami. But never at home.

Impressive, but the seniors would only be matching a feat done by last year's seniors at FSU.

"It's been amazing," Weinke said. "I've had phone calls and letters and people say, "It's your last game at home, can you believe it's already over? And look what you've accomplished as a team.' "

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