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FSU best; UM gets this vote


© St. Petersburg Times, published November 19, 2000

TALLAHASSEE -- Just what we need.

Florida has itself another election quandary. As our state continues to quiver on Bush-Gore, here comes a controversial, if unpresidential football question on 'Noles and 'Canes.

Tell me, which party?

Who gets the BCS vote for the national championship game? Miami (10-1) has a heavy case, losing only to Rose Bowl-bound Washington (10-1). Florida State (11-1) is similarly potent, with a solitary stumble against the Hurricanes.

That result of Oct. 7 aside, I think FSU is a better team than Miami. But, in the BCS election, that is not the issue. It's more a dilemma of anointing the more deserving school to occupy Top Two space, likely with unbeaten Oklahoma.

I say it's Miami.

That will differ mightily from Saturday night's exit poll at Doak Campbell Stadium, where 73,000 devotees of garnet and gold among a spirited gathering of 83,042 were singing, chanting and swearing, with new evidence of a 30-7 torching of fierce rival Florida, that FSU belongs in the Orange Bowl, providing Seminoles an opportunity to wind up No. 1 for a second straight season.

That could well happen. Florida State would be a worthy choice. Just like Miami. It's so close. All but a dead heat between 'Noles and 'Canes. I'm just saying Miami's argument makes just an ounce more sense. Hey, it's not as if I'm wasting my ballot on Pat Buchanan.

More of my why. ... When the Hurricanes played then-No. 1 FSU, they won. Miami later faced then-No. 2 Virginia Tech and ruled again. That magnificent double dose, for me, is the victorious tiebreaker for Miami.

Who knows, in two weeks it could become a moot point. Oklahoma might well lose to Kansas State in the Big12 Conference final, evicting the Sooners from the BCS penthouse. If that occurs, a Jan. 4 rematch between Miami and FSU would be apropos.

I'd pick the 'Noles.

If all this sounds confusing, it's the contemporary Florida way. Making clear, total Sunshine State sense these days is such a rarity. Katherine Harris, our secretary of state, showed up at the Doak. She said all points counted. Steve Spurrier won't sue.

Something we do know for sure is that the Gators icon still cannot handle the 'Noles in Tallahassee. He's 4-8-1 against the toughest neighbor any coach could have, but a more inept 0-5-1 at the Doak. FSU reigns on as king of college football's hottest neighborhood. When you boss upstate Florida, you might also be the nation's best.

Chris Weinke felt fabulous.

FSU's quarterback had been queasy. Weakened. Drained by flu-like symptoms, Weinke slept away Gators-'Noles eve at the home of FSU's team doctor. Now that's a house call.

Sugar and potassium were fueled into Weinke's veins. By kickoff, Dr. Kris Stowers said he had pumped Chris to "80 percent strength." We all know that older people heal more slowly.

He's the AARP quarterback.

Just over 14 minutes into the game, Weinke looked like the healthiest person in the berserk ballpark. Already, he had thrown for 146 yards and two touchdowns. FSU led 14-7.

Snoop Minnis went blurring into the north end zone on a 34-yard score, sending the 28-year-old quarterback into a cheerleading frenzy, pumping a fist at the Gators' bench. After climbing out of a sick bed, he was about to make the Gators dead.

Think if Chris had been 100 percent. Working at an estimated four-fifths power, he passed for 353 yards and three touchdowns. Are we sure that medic injected only potassium and sugar into the FSU elder? Maybe also a gallon or two of heroism?

Oklahoma also has a terrific quarterback, Josh Heupel, who by now is Weinke's only stout competition for the Heisman Trophy. Those fans of FSU who might have growled at me about siding with Miami can now blurt "About time!" as I now shout that Chris should win that most prestigious individual award in American sports.

Weinke is 32-2 as FSU's starter. In the air-happy Atlantic Coast Conference, he is now the all-time yardage fellow, surpassing Ben Bennett, an old Spurrier quarterback when the Florida coach was at Duke.

Oh, how the 'Noles smoke at the Doak. This latest wipeout of the Gators makes the FSU home record 51-0-1 over the past nine years. For sure, it's going to be a 15th straight 'Noles season of ranking no lower than No. 4 in the Associated Press final poll.

Remarkable stuff.

As the grandeur continues to be amassed in the FSU coaching time of Bobby Bowden, do not ever become so blase as to take such excellence for granted. Take a good, long, artistic look. Breathe deep. Comprehend the numbers.

Florida State's year-by-year football records since 1986 have been 11-1, 11-1, 10-2, 10-2, 11-2, 11-1, 12-1, 10-1-1, 10-2, 11-1, 11-1, 11-2, 12-0 and now 11-1.

Over the span, a 152-18-1 masterpiece.

For a little whipped cream on the phenomenal 'Noles pie, consider their AP rankings since 1987: it's 2-3-3-4-4-2-1-4-4-3-3-3-1 with something sure to come this season from the 1-2-3 counter.

Records made ... to not he broken.

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