Smoke Signals

Florida State offensive coordinator <b>Jeff Bowden </b>has studied Notre Dame's defense enough to draw an of-repeated conclusion. The Irish are better than their results. "There's not a lot of difference with this defensive line than Miami," Bowden said Thursday as the fifth-ranked Seminoles (7-1) concluded preparations for Saturday's showdown at Notre Dame (2-5).

"If anything, their ends are bigger than Miami's, maybe not quite as fast. I just think they are rock-solid defense."

Notre Dame lost just three players to graduation and middle linebacker George Goolsby (broken collarbone) to injury.

However, the unit, which produced three turnovers during a four-minute span to break open last year's 34-24 win at FSU, has been unable to duplicate that magic. The Irish returned five interceptions for touchdowns last season. This year's team has three interceptions total.

"Right now that's the biggest thing I can see because they are playing just as hard," Bowden said.

"They haven't changed their scheme. They are doing pretty much the same thing they were doing last year. At this point they are just not quite getting the turnovers they got last year."


FSU's lineup appears set with the exception of tight guard.

Ron Lunford may make his third consecutive start or Bobby Meeks will return to the starter's role after being sidelined the Virginia game (Oct. 18) with a separated right shoulder. The two shared snaps in Saturday's win over Wake Forest.

"They (coaches) have told us yet but we are both going to play, so it really doesn't matter to me," Meeks said.

Leroy Smith is expected to make his second consecutive start at right cornerback and Brodrick Bunkley his third straight at noseguard. Stanford Samuels (neck) and Jeff Womble (right bicep) are both listed as probable and are expected to play.

Also, A.J. Nicholson will start at weakside linebacker in place of senior Kendyll Pope (right knee sprain).


Receiver Craphonso Thorpe was excused from practice and will arrive in South Bend, Ind., today via a commercial flight in order to attend the funeral of his grandfather, Eddie Thorpe. Mr. Thorpe died last Friday from natural causes.

FSU flies into South Bend today and will stay in nearby Michigan City.


Recruiting coordinator John Lilly and team videographer Ben Odom visited Notre Dame in June. But it had nothing to do with football. The pair completed the SunBurst Marathon, which ended at the 50-yard line in Notre Dame Stadium.

It was the first marathon (26.2 miles) for both.

"It was kind of sweet," said Odom, 23.

"You grow up around college football, watching Rocket Ismail, Tim Brown, watching (the movie) ‘Rudy' and then going up to see Notre Dame. It was just like you see on TV. It (stadium) was cool but, by that time, I was just ready to see the finish line."


FSU easily sold its allotment of 6,000 tickets for Saturday's game.

In fact, demand for tickets to two of Notre Dame's six home games this season ranks among the top five in the history of Notre Dame Stadium. The Notre Dame ticket office received 54,244 ticket requests for the Oct.18 game vs. USC, making it the fourth-highest requested Irish home game in history. The Notre Dame-FSU game garnered 51,051 requests, placing it fifth on the all-time list. The 2001 Notre Dame- West Virginia ranks first with 59,368 ticket requests.

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