Sunday Blitz

Ohio State barely had enough firepower to get past San Diego State Saturday. The North Carolina State Wolfpack didn't have enough to get past upstart Wake Forest. In fact, three teams dropped out of the Associated Press poll Sunday following a day on which four ranked teams lost to unranked opponents. So, forgive FSU coach <b>Bobby Bowden </b> if he's not panicking about the Seminoles' slow start against the Maryland Terrapins Saturday. "If you play poorly and win, don't fret," he said.

Ohio State barely had enough firepower to get past San Diego State Saturday.

The North Carolina State Wolfpack didn't have enough to get past upstart Wake Forest.

In fact,three teams dropped out of the Associated Press poll Sunday following a day on which four ranked teams lost to unranked opponents.

So, forgive Florida State coach Bobby Bowden if he's not panicking about the Seminoles' slow start against the Maryland Terrapins Saturday. FSU rallied from an early 10-0 deficit to rout the visitors 35-10 and earn its second consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference victory.

The Seminoles are at home Saturday against Georgia Tech, which beat Auburn 17-3.

"There's no doubt about it. If you play poorly and win, don't fret. Don't fret," Bowden said Sunday during his breakfast with the media.

"Ohio State won when they didn't play well at all, not by their standards. Last year, they played that way and won a national championship. Just win the ballgame. Win the game. When you're not playing good, when you're making mistakes, be happy that you won that day.

"We just got ourselves in a fix, right off the bat. I haven't looked at that first pass – I haven't studied it yet. I saw the replay on television while I was making the show last night, but I couldn't study it. I think we had a poorly conceived play, a play that was designated to do this, and it fell right into the hands of their defense. I've got a feeling that play will go out the window."

Of course, that "play" Bowden was referring was the Chris Rix interception on the Seminoles' opening play. Maryland linebacker D'Qwell Jackson raced 58 yards for the score, bouncing off Rix and FSU tailback Lorenzo Booker along the way.

Despite the gaffe and early deficit, the Seminoles settled down nicely.

Rix shook off his first pass by making enough clutch throws and finishing 16-of-29 for 228 yards and two touchdowns. FSU also relied on its tenacious defense, which has not surrendered a touchdown this season. The Seminoles limited the Terps to 197 total yards, 81 in the second half, 3.2 yards per play and just 3 of 14 third-down conversions.

"As a whole, I feel pretty good," FSU linebacker Kendyll Pope said.

"We only gave up 197 yards and our goal was not to let them pass 300. We only gave up three points. It's hard to keep up those shutouts. We are trying to get that swagger back."

Swagger aside for the time being, the Seminoles will be looking for better consistency from its offense this week.

Sure, the unit had its quality moments, too, thanks to some big-play completions Rix, who tossed touchdown strikes of 18 yards to Craphonso Thorpe and 34 yards to P.K. Sam. Plus, the big fella, tailback Greg Jones, appears to have found his groove following reconstructive knee surgery. He rushed for 88 yards to push his season total to 147 yards on 22 carries.

The victory gives the Seminoles a chance for a fast start. The next two games (Georgia Tech, Colorado) are at home, followed by a road trip to Duke.

"I would think we're where I hoped we'd be. It's way too early to say anything," Bowden admitted.

"We're no better off than we were last year. We were 2-0 last year. We were 2-0 the year before that. I don't think we were 3-0 either year (FSU started 4-0 in 2002 before losing at Louisville Sept. 26). Next game (against Georgia Tech) is a critical game."

Thorpe, who leads the Seminoles in receiving with 12 catches for 139 yards, says the Seminoles must continue to improve.

"I just think we came out a little flat," Thorpe said. "It happens sometimes." Added Sam, who has three catches for a game-high 113 yards: "I am just glad to get back on track and start making plays. We could have just laid down (after first play). But we fought back as a team and (that) shows we've come a long way."

Of course, FSU still has a long way to go this season as well. Just ask Bowden, who only had to take a peek at the national landscape to notice the changes.

"Well, there's too much football out there ahead of us right now, and there's too many teams in our conference that are capable of beating us," Bowden said.

"If you play your best – that's going to be the key, if you play your best – you'll probably be favored over everybody you line up against, except maybe Miami.

"You'll be favored. It doesn't mean you're going to win. We know that some of these ACC teams are good enough to beat you. And the thing about it – Virginia hasn't lost a conference game, they lost to a non-conference team. Maryland was that way, except they lost to us yesterday. We've really got to be careful, or one will get us."


Nole Digest Top Stories