Coaching Milestone

FSU Bobby Bowden is the first to admit a victory Saturday over second-ranked Miami would certainly help define the Noles' season. "I think it would. If we could play great against them, then I think it would be a good sign," Bowden said. "There's no doubt that this is a measuring ball game, one you can measure your quality by this game." A win could mean much more, too. Bowden can claim career victory No. 338, which would tie him with Penn State's Joe Paterno for most ever in Division I-A.

While Bowden can talk Miami preparation without taking a breath, he's more hesitant when it comes to talking about personal milestones -- especially since Paterno is Bowden's closest friend in the coaching fraternity.

"I am conscience of it because it is in the paper all the time and for me to say I don't know anything about it, I would be lying," Bowden said.

"I do know about it, but it is one thing that I don't lose sleep about, if it happens, it happens. Joe is such a good friend of mine when we are together. I remember something Joe said about three years ago. We were in Hawaii at the Nike Convention, about 35 coaches and their wives.

"They congratulated Joe for breaking Bear Bryant's record. Everybody gave him a hand. So when we got through Joe came up to me and said, ‘Bobby you will be there next year.‘ I think the next year I might of. Anyway, he is such a good, thoughtful guy that I really don't think too much about.

"If it happens, it happens."

It's probably fitting that it could happen against one of the Seminoles' oldest rivals in the Hurricanes. Bowden is 12-17 overall against UM, 11-16 at FSU. The Seminoles are looking to avoid their fourth consecutive defeat to the Hurricanes, who enter on a nation-best 37-game regular-season win streak.

Despite UM's muscle, it travels to Tallahassee as a seven-point underdogs -- just the second time in 38 games Miami hasn't been favored. The Hurricanes won the only time they were not favored during this stretch: 41-16 last year at Florida.

Paterno, meanwhile, hopes to stop the Nittany Lions' (2-4) slide at No. 18 Purdue in a Big Ten matchup Saturday. The Boillermakers will be looking for their first win over Penn State since the school's initial meeting -- 28-0 on Nov. 3, 1951.

The Nittany Lions' struggles were magnified in a 30-23 defeat to Wisconsin last week. Penn State fumbled a punt and a kickoff. It missed two field-goal attempts and blew an extra point. It allowed a 65-yard punt return for a touchdown and a 55-yard kickoff return to set up another score.

With game against Purdue, Iowa and Ohio State looming, Paterno and Co. could be staring at an embarrassing five-game losing streak. Paterno, who turns 77 in December, had one losing season in his first 34 years as coach in Happy Valley. Six weeks into this season, he's dangerously close to his third in four years.

Bowden admits Paterno's recent struggles make him uneasy when it comes to their race for the all-time victory lead.

"Yeah, it probably makes it more uncomfortable," Bowden said.

"If I had my way. ... he would keep winning and I would too and then in about six years he hangs it up. And then I go one more year (laughing). He (Paterno) and I probably communicate more and have more in common because of our age. I've called him and he's called me about things, if we have problems."

Of course, Bowden's most immediate problem -- make that his most immediate concern -- is the Hurricanes. Not where he stands on the all-time Division I-A coaching victory list.

It is the first time since 1992 that both teams enter the game ranked in the top five.

"There's no doubt about it, as I've looked at them on film, they look just as athletic as they've always looked. They look just as physical as they've always looked, they look just as fast as they've always looked. They've got some dominating players on defense just like they've always had," Bowden said.

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