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Who has the edge?


© St. Petersburg Times, published November 18, 2000


FSU senior Chris Weinke leads the nation in passing yardage (3,814) and passing efficiency (166.5 rating) and is tied for the lead in touchdowns (30). Aside from raw numbers, the 28-year-old is uncommonly unflappable as he's shown in directing numerous come-from-behind wins, including in last year's game against the Gators. UF redshirt freshman Rex Grossman (1,530 yards, 17 touchdowns) is third in passing efficiency (163.9) but struggled last week and was replaced by senior Jesse Palmer (1,473 yards, 10 touchdowns). Like last year, two may not be better than one.



UF freshman Jabar Gaffney (59 catches, 1,005 yards, 13 touchdowns) has tied a school record with six straight games of at least 100 yards and Reche Caldwell, a sophomore from Tampa Jefferson, has been solid. But the other Gators aren't nearly as dangerous or productive. FSU counters with senior Marvin "Snoop'' Minnis (55 catches, 1,153 yards, nine touchdowns), a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Award, junior Atrews Bell (34 catches, 609 yards, nine touchdowns), sophomore Anquan Boldin (34 catches, 595 yards, six touchdowns) and junior Javon Walker (19 catches, 307 yards, three touchdowns). So much for missing Peter Warrick.



Before the season, FSU's deep, veteran group was tabbed as perhaps the best ever at the school. Senior tackle Ross Brannon and senior guard Jerry Carmichael didn't recover from off-season knee operations and then senior tackle Tarlos Thomas suffered a season-ending knee injury against Duke. Still, FSU hasn't missed a beat behind standout tackles Char-ron Dorsey and Brett Williams and center Jarad Moon and guards Justin Amman and Montrae Holland. UF's starting line, anchored by tackles Mike Pearson and Kenyatta Walker, has been solid, but depth is a problem. The top two reserves, guard Shannon Snell from Tampa Hillsborough and tackle Max Starks, are true freshmen.



FSU outside linebackers Tommy Polley and Brian Allen, who were both semifinalists for the Butkus Award, and middle linebacker Bradley Jennings, a punishing hitter nicknamed "Monster,'' form perhaps the nation's best trio; certainly the nation's fastest. Jennings, Allen and Polley are also 1-2-3 on the team in tackles. Fortunately for the Seminoles, they have stayed healthy, a must given the dearth of experienced depth. UF hasn't been as fortunate. Junior middle linebacker Andra Davis, a starter last year, went down in the opener with a knee injury, which was a huge blow for a young unit. It's helped that middle linebacker Travis Carroll has returned from a three-game suspension and a knee sprain the last two games.



Florida coach Steve Spurrier may cringe at the label, "offensive genius,'' but his track record for putting together innovative, nearly unstoppable offenses can't be refuted. Yet he's not had much success against FSU. He's 4-7-1, albeit one win gave the Gators their lone national title. Meanwhile, FSU's Bobby Bowden, now a professed a CEO who entrusts and empowers his assistants, has won a few big games. Home and away. With 314 career wins, he's tied with Amos Alonzo Stagg for fourth all-time among Division I coaches.



Doak Campbell Stadium doesn't have a menacing nickname like "Death Valley'' or "The Swamp,'' but there can't be a more daunting task for a visitor than trying to win there. The Seminoles own the nation's longest home winning streak (34 games) and the nation's longest home unbeaten streak (51 games). They take this defending their turf seriously. Under Spurrier, the Gators are 0-4-1 here. The tie, the so-called "Choke at Doak,'' came after FSU rallied from a 31-3 fourth-quarter deficit.


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