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Hubert Mizell
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College Football 2000 Preview

The state of Florida dominated college football in the 1990s. Perennial powers UM, UF and FSU took their turns as national champions, and upstart USF impressed onlookers with snappy play and instant popularity.

In the year 2000, we enter a new decade. It is time to peer into the crystal ball for a forecast of what’s to come? More success and glory? Or downturns on the horizon? Look and see for yourself.

Hubert Mizell
FSU's the leader, but the pack's not far behind
Only an exhibitionist, straining to be different in an outrageous era of mass tattooing and ghastly piercings, should be picking any football institution but Florida State to win the national championship.

Ernest Hooper
Kiper's critics fueled by jealousy, not facts
I'm baffled by the criticism occasionally aimed at ESPN analyst Mel Kiper.

Around the nation
Our Top 25 teams for 2000
Who's the best this season?

Confusing, but the darned thing works
Complain all you want about the methodology, but the 2-year-old BCS has matched the nation's top two teams both times.

Odds appear to be against an Irish revival
Even for those who love to hate Notre Dame, there can be little joy in seeing the Irish sink so low. The fun is in beating them at their best, knocking them off their perch -- not kicking the beaten bully when it is down.

Return to greatness
Like the days of old, Nebraska has the tools to win it all.

Bowl games
2000 bowl schedule
Dec. 20: Mobile Alabama Bowl, WAC No. 1 or 2 vs. CUSA No. 2, Mobile, Ala., 8 (ESPN2)

Outback Bowl at a glance
WHEN/WHERE: 11 a.m., Jan. 1, 2001; Raymond James Stadium, Tampa.

Florida Gators
Season of redemption
Steve Spurrier is embarrassed by his team's late-season swoon in 1999, but he feels confident about the ability of his 2000 squad to rebound.

South Florida Bulls
Growth plans
No playoffs. No bowl game. What is South Florida's motivation? To use every game as yet another step toward future success.

Florida State Seminoles
Repeat performers
Nothing less than a second straight national championship will satisfy the senior-laden Seminoles

Miami Hurricanes
Cautious confidence
For the first time in several years, the swagger is back. But nobody is bragging too much yet.

Around the state
Choices galore, but is it too much?
10 Florida schools will have football in 2002. Coaches see enough players to go around.

Dolphins step into the big time
Jacksonville coach Steve Gilbert can remember the day he first set foot on the north Florida campus where he was to build a successful football team.

Rebuilt Wildcats surge toward top
It was the moment Alvin Wyatt knew Bethune-Cookman had officially turned the corner.

Rattlers hope to use year for reloading
Florida A&M coach Billy Joe stares at his schedule, perennially one of the toughest in Division I-AA, and feels a little like a cowboy invited to a gunfight with the flashiest pistol in the group.

Knights itch to start throwing
ORLANDO -- By the time you finish reading this, Central Florida will have completed a pass right . . . now.

Conference previews


Owner Judie DiMilta of Mystic Goddess (727-530-9994; 12041 66th Street N, Largo) provided the crystal ball, which is made of optically clear quartz. The hands belong to Times staffer Samantha Puckett. The photograph was taken by sports photo editor Mike Heffner. The Bulls, Hurricanes, Gators and Seminoles logos magically appeared within the ball without our knowledge. Well, okay, that’s stretching things just a bit. -- JIM MELVIN

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