Trick or Treat

The Florida State Seminoles were left picking up the pieces on Sunday following their stunning defeat at Maryland a day earlier. Dropping to 13th in both the AP and coaches' polls, the Seminoles (6-2) look to regroup at home on Saturday against Duke. Head coach <b>Bobby Bowden</b> defended FSU's offensive approach against the Terrapins, relying heavily on long passes against Maryland's press coverage.

Well, it was a bad day for college football in Florida on Saturday.

The last time the state's top three programs lost on the same day was Oct. 14, 1978.

As the college football world already knows, Georgia beat the Florida Gators 31-24 in the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail party in Jacksonville; Maryland upset Florida State 20-17 in College Park; and North Carolina handedMiami its first loss of the season, 31-28 in Chapel Hill.

All three teams were left picking up the pieces on Sunday.

In Tallahassee, of course, FSU coach Bobby Bowden spent most of his Sunday conference call with the media defending the Seminoles' offensive game plan.

In a nutshell, the Maryland Terps dared the Seminoles to throw long.

And FSU did -- with little or no luck.

"All we had to do was hit one and we win the game," Bowden said.

"That was the thing they were giving us. You can hit eight short ones (passe) and not score. Hit one of the long ones, and you score. Maryland said, 'We're gonna dare you" and we couldn't hit it."

When pressed on the Seminoles' play-calling, Bowden said FSU attempted a variety of routes -- but Maryland was vulnerable to the long pass due to its man coverage. Bowden said the Seminoles' struggles were easy to pinpoint.

"I saw times when we were open and we (quarterbacks) were missing them and times we were open and not making the catches -- a little bit of both," Bowden said.

"We tried everthing. We tried short, we tried across the middle... down the side (long) is where they were vulnerable."

Bowden, once again, also pointed to FSU's early touchdown pass to receiver Craphonso Thorpe that was nullified to offensive pass interference. Bowden admitted it was only one play but it could also have changed the game's complexion concering the Terrapins' defensive approach.

"If they had given us that first one, would they have pressed the rest of the game or backed off? You just don't know," Bowden said.

Bounced from the national title race for the fourth consecutive season, the Seminoles still have an outside chance at the Atlantic Coast Conference title. However, Miami, Virginia and Virginia Tech -- all with one league defeat each -- have the inside track as FSU currently sits in fourth place.

Miami is at Virginia Nov. 13 and home against Virginia Tech Dec. 4. The Hurricanes also have remaining games against Clemson and Wake Forest.

Virginia Tech has remainnig games against North Carolina (Nov. 6), Maryland (Nov. 18), Virginia (Nov. 27) and MIami (Dec. 4).

Virginia ends with Maryland (Nov. 6), Miami (Nov. 13), Georgia Tech (Nov. 20) and Virginia Tech (Nov. 27).

FSU also had problems slowing the Terrapins' offense.

Maryland streamlined its offense to counter the Seminoles' lightning-quick linebackers. Maryland tried a few gimmick plays, including a 35-yard reverse by receiver Rich Parson, but mostly beat FSU on short sideline passes.

The Terps finished with 387 yards, more than the last three losses combined.

After narrowingly escaping road victories at Syracuse and Wake Forest, the Seminoles weren't so fortunate against the Terps. The crowd stormed the field when the final seconds ticked off the scoreboard clock.

"They changed their personality. Mayland hadn't been playing like this. It's getting tough as heck to beat a team away from home, especially in the ACC because it has gotten better," Bowden said.

"The (home) crowd is becoming such a big part of it, it's getting harder and harder and harder to beat people away from home. If you don't believe it, ask North Carolina State. Ask Miami. Ask us against Syracuse. Ask us against Wake Forest. We could have lost to both."

Of course, FSU lost at Maryland.

"I saw a game where... if we could have had one more great throw. One more great catch. We might could have won the game. All that combined," Bowden said.

"But our defense did not have the success they were having. Our kicker did not have the success he had in the previous game. We would probably be sitting here talking exactly like we did after the Wake Forest game, and after the Syracuse game."

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