As some current Nole players have stated, this is the type of game that FSU built its reputation on. Going anywhere, anytime, to play anyone was long the motto for Bobby Bowden and the Florida State Seminoles. This is the type of game for both squads that could propel them towards successful seasons, while the losers will be left with two early season losses wondering what's next. FSU Head Coach Bobby Bowden has fared very well against the SEC in his career. The Hall of Fame coach is 38-25-2 all-time against the current Southeastern Conference. His record is even more impressive if you remove his 17-15-1 record against the University of Florida. Versus all other SEC teams besides the Gators, Bowden is 21-10-2. That is a .667 winning percentage. Bowden has a losing record versus three SEC teams. He is 4-5-0 versus Auburn, 0-1-1 against Georgia and 0-1-0 against Tennessee whom he lost to in the 1998 National Championship game. The two teams he has been most successful against have been LSU (7-1) and South Carolina (9-1). The turnaround versus the SEC under Bowden has been remarkable. Before he arrived at FSU, the Seminoles were 20-38-8 versus current SEC teams, a winning percentage of just .364. Under Bowden that number has increased to .600.
Some people think that this is the first time these teams have ever met. That is not the case, as they have played three times with Alabama holding a 2-0-1 advantage over the Noles. The last meeting between the two is the famed 8-7 Alabama win that left legendary coach Bear Bryant wondering what hit him after the game. This is the first time these teams have met outside the state of Alabama, though, as the two of the games were played in Tuscaloosa while the other was played in Birmingham.
FSU should be more than happy to travel to Jacksonville. Florida State has fond memories of its last trip to Jacksonville. Heavy underdogs, the Seminoles came away with the inaugural ACC Championship title as they defeated Virginia Tech 27-22. Under Bobby Bowden, the Seminoles are 7-1 in the River City. The Seminoles have won five games in a row in Jacksonville since the loss to Southern Miss. Four of the games have been Gator Bowls – 2006 (West Virginia, W 30-18), 2002 (Virginia Tech, W 28-17), 1985 (Oklahoma, W 34-23) and 1982 (West Virginia, W 31-21) – along with the 2005 ACC Champ game, 2000 Pigskin Classic (BYU, W 29-3) and an ACC game (Duke, W 51- 23). The FSU record for rushing yards in Jacksonville is 201 by Tony Smith against Oklahoma. Javon Walker holds the receiving record at 195 yards in the 2002 Gator Bowl and Chip Ferguson threw for 338 yards against the Sooners.
A lot will be made of FSU Head Coach Bobby Bowden's connection to the University of Alabama. The Seminole boss grew up in Birmingham admiring the Crimson Tide program and at one point almost went to Tuscaloosa as the Tide's coach. There are a lot more connections between the two staffs than just Bowden. FSU defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews won two National Championships playing for Bear Bryant and was also an All-SEC baseball player for the Tide. He is enshrined in the State of Alabama Hall of Fame. Seminole offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher coached with Nick Saban at LSU from 2000-04. The two won a National Championship with the Tigers in 2004 along with current FSU wide receiver coach Lawrence Dawsey, who was a GA on that staff. If you flip the coin, you'll find former FSU executive head coach Kevin Steele now running the Tide defense and assistant head coach Kirby Smart was a GA at FSU and received his master's degree from Florida State. Rick Trickett's son Travis is a graduate assistant on the Alabama staff as well.
While this game is huge to both teams regarding the state of the teams moving forward for the rest of the season, there are huge recruiting implications tied into this game. Both Florida State and Alabama are after some of the same recruits this year. The winner of this game may be able to get a leg up in the head-to-head competition in terms of high school recruits for the 2008 class.
Probably the two biggest names that both schools are after is Julio Jones and T.J. Bryant. While fans think Julio Jones is Bama bound and T.J. Bryant is FSU bound, that is hardly the case. This is the type of game that can show these blue-chip recruits that the winner is heading in the right direction. For both of these 5* standouts, a solid performance on the field by these teams may give confidence that FSU and Alabama are on the way back. For an Alabama kid like Jones, FSU can show that offensively the turn around is almost there, and the chance to be apart of it may be something special. For a Florida kid like Bryant, Nick Saban and the Alabama guys can show that his teams are on the way to becoming much like his LSU teams that dominated the SEC under his tenure. This is a showcase game, and both teams are looking to impress.
These two studs are not the only prospects FSU and Alabama are fighting for. Antoine McClain is another Alabama kid that was thought to be ending his recruitment this week. Insiders feel that he is Crimson Tide all the way. With McClain delaying his decision this week, it can only help teams like FSU who is actively pursuing him. While it may be a bit premature to think McClain is leaving the state, the FSU coaches are fighting hard to land the Alabama native. A solid performance by the Noles can only help pique the interest of McClain. Guys like lineman Peters Drey, defensive end Glenn Harbin and JUCO defensive tackle Terrence Cody are high level guys that may possibly be swayed in terms of who wins this game. Momentum cannot be ignored here in this game, and the win may lead to winning the signature of several talented prospects come National Signing Day.
While this is a non-conference game, a win here will most likely propel the winning team to a successful 2007 season. Alabama is coming off of two hard-fought SEC games, winning at home versus Arkansas and losing to Georgia this past week in an overtime thriller. Will Alabama be able to keep the emotion up for this game? After the clash with FSU, Alabama has one more non-conference game with Houston before heading back into a tough schedule that calls for home games against Tennessee and LSU. A big win will most likely give the Crimson Tide the confidence to finish out the rest of their schedule in style. The same can be said for FSU, and it can be argued that getting a win here may be more important to the young FSU team. With winnable games against N.C. State, Wake Forest and Miami coming up, a victory for the Noles most likely gives the players the confidence they have been lacking, and can help build the morale before heading into their brutal November schedule.
As fans this is a game that both teams have been waiting for for a long period of time. On Saturday we will get the chance to see this much anticipated match-up. With the expected sell-out crowd, Alltel Stadium should be rocking. Will the Noles continue their on-field growth with a big win, or will Alabama continue their early season performance and get the win. Between momentum for the season and recruiting trail, it's vital for the Noles they come out firing on all cylinders in order to get the win. Both of these teams are a mirror of each other, so whoever executes the best and gets the big plays, will most likely get the win in Jacksonville.
**Credit FSU Sports Information for material in this article