Sunshine Showdown

Who says there's nothing to play for? When <b>Florida</b> meets <b>Florida State</b> on Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium, both teams – each long removed from the national championship picture – will have issues to address that go beyond their celebrated hatred.

Florida, for starters, has one very bitter taste to get rid of. In a 38-34 home loss to the Seminoles last season, they were victimized by controversial officiating and gave up a 52-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass in the closing minutes as FSU skipped away with an almost despicable victory.

Since that night, "38-34" has become the latest rallying cry for the FSU faithful in a series that has included such anecdotes as "The Choke at Doak" and "Free Shoes University" and the "Fifth Quarter in the French Quarter."

"If that was me and we lost a game like that, I would be definitely fired up the next year," wide receiver Craphonso Thorpe.

"I'm sure they will be."

A common retort involves blaming the Atlantic Coast Conference officiating crew that may have blown up to five calls involving fumbles (or lack thereof).

As is the custom, officials from the Southeastern Conference will preside over Saturday's FSU home game.

"I guess they can say what they want," tailback Leon Washington said.

"The thing I think about last year is that with a minute-something to go, they were up. I think they thought they had it. There might have been some bad calls but you have to take care of things."

FSU, meanwhile, still has something a little more tangible hanging in the balance. Several scenarios are still possible, but the Seminoles still have an excellent chance to claim a share of the ACC title, an accolade that was an afterthought until this season's expansion.

Barring three victories by conference front-runner Virginia Tech (who must travel to Miami and Virginia), FSU will be among the co-champions with a pair of ACC losses. Whether or not the Seminoles represent the conference in a BCS bowl game will be decided by the BCS poll, making a victory over the Gators that much more important.

Florida State must be ranked five spots ahead of Miami to throw out their head-to-head loss to the Canes and get the nod. In the most recent poll, FSU is No.8, Miami No. 12.

"Bottom line when you look at it is that everyone has sucked," Washington said.

"Everyone has lost games they weren't supposed to. We have to stay focused on what's left to accomplish."

Thorpe has a different perspective at this point.

"I don't focus on what is at stake and what is not at stake," he said.

"Some people do. I don't worry about that. I worry about winning."


Nole Digest Top Stories