Countdown To Kickoff

No excuses. FSU coach <b>Bobby Bowden </b>has felt good about his team's chances against Miami in the past. Even so, the Hurricanes have held the upper hand with victories in the last three meetings. Fifth-ranked FSU (5-0) looks to end its skid against second-ranked UM (5-0) Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for high noon. "We've practiced well," Bowden said following the Seminoles' Thursday practice. "I think we are ready to play as (good) as we can. We have no excuses."

Now it's a matter of going out and doing your best. They (Hurricanes) will be doing the same thing."

FSU has lost four or more consecutive games to Miami just once during the Bowden era, and only twice in the program's history. The Seminoles lost five consecutive meetings from 1951 to 1957 and tumbled in four straight from 1985 to 1988.

The largest win streak in the series, however, belongs to FSU, which won seven straight from 1963-72. Prior to the last three games, the Seminoles owned a five-game win streak (1995-99).

"This is what you think about when you are being recruited," junior receiver Dominic Robinson said.

"Even when you first get here, you think, ‘Man, I can't wait until that first Miami game. I can't wait until that first Florida game.' This is one of those games that, for the first time for me, has national title implications.

"Before, it hasn't been that way. It has been huge. I played in a huge Miami game last year, even the year before that. This year, it's so amazing. It's so exciting to me, because this is why you come to Florida State. It's a dream come true to have actually get a chance to have an influence in a game, actually make a difference."


FSU's main concern remains at offensive guard, where Bobby Meeks is scheduled to start after missing time this season due to asthma, pneumonia and swollen tonsils. Bowden said reserve Eric Broe (knee) remains questionable. Ron Lunford continues to split time between tackle and guard.

"I am ready. They need me, I cam going to be there," Lunford said.

Reserve tailbacks Leon Washington (elbow) and Lorenzo Booker (ankle/knee) also will return after missing extensive time this season due to injuries.


Earlier this week Miami tight end Kellen Winslow laid down a verbal gauntlet, saying no one at FSU could cover him in a one-on-one situation. That responsibility will fall on outside linebacker Michael Boulware, who has taken the quiet, respectful approach concerning the matchup.

"From the outside looking in, I can see where it's a big opportunity, but I have to look at it as another game," Boulware said. "I done it before. I've got against the best. I just have to keep a level head."

A smiling Boulware added that Winslow has nothing on Boulware's older brother Peter, a former All-American with the Seminoles and current NFL standout, when it comes to woofing.

"One of the fortunate things, growing up with my brother, he got out at me when I was a kid," Boulware said. "He talked a lot of junk when we played, so I'm actually looking forward to what he (Winslow) has to say, because it's going to be entertaining and fun."


The Hurricanes have fed off turnovers this season, scoring seven touchdowns on special teams and defense.

Missed FSU field goals in this series aside, the Seminoles also are noted for solid special teams play. B.J. Ward blocked two field goal attempts against Duke two weeks ago to tie and NCAA single-game record and bring his career total to six. He already owns the school record for blocked field goals and is one away from tying Bobby Butler's career record of seven blocked kicks (punts and field goals).

FSU had blocked 102 kicks in the Bowden Era entering the season. The Seminoles last blocked a kick (field goal) against the Hurricanes in 1999.

Seminole freshman Ernie Sims, who has been a standout on special teams this season, is counting down the minutes to Saturday's showdown. FSU must guard against UM return specialist Roscoe Parrish, who had a school-record 92-yard punt return for a score against Boston College earlier this season.

"The main thing is to go in and play as hard as I can and try to knock somebody out," Sims said.

"The special teams is a big part of the aspect of the game. Really, if we kick it off in that part of the game I think we have a pretty good chance of winning. I've been waiting a long time for this. I am telling ya, I am getting a really good feeling about this game."


FSU safety Pat Watkins gives the UM receivers a tip of the cap, saying, "their receivers are talented. I am not going to sit here and criticize them because I've seen them on film -- everyone in the nation has seen them -- they are really good."

Watkins also has tried to help out FSU's receivers in practice this week, giving the group a taste of what's expected Saturday from UM's secondary. The unit is noted for its size and aggressiveness.

"They do have some pretty big defensive backs," Watkins said.

"Who knows, maybe they have a weakness. Maybe they are not moving as fast. We try to be big and quick on our feet. P.K. and the others have been going against us. We try to help them out any way we can, helping them step up to the challenge. They will be ready."

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