Orange Bowl Antics

Saturday's FSU-UM game marks the 46th meeting between the two powers. The 'Canes lead the series 25-20, including an even 14-14 record in the Orange Bowl. Of course, UM has won 19 consecutive home games, including a 27-24 victory over the top-ranked Seminoles two years ago. What makes the Orange Bowl such a difficult place? We have quotes and stories from Bobby Bowden, Joe Kines, Montrae Holland and Randy Oravetz. "You are ready to go home when it's time to go home," Oravetz said and laughed.

Miami's victory at Doak Campbell Stadium last year ended Florida State's NCAA-leading 37-game home win streak and 54-game home unbeaten streak dating back to 1991.

The Seminoles will get an opportunity to repay the favor Saturday against the Hurricanes, who have won 19 consecutive home games in the Orange Bowl. During its home win streak, UM has outscored opponents by an average score of 47.2 to 10.

What makes the Orange Bowl such a hostile environment?

"It's usually hot, unless they have a storm or something. It's usually hot," FSU coach Bobby Bowden said Wednesday as the ninth-ranked Seminoles (5-1) continued preparations for the top-ranked Hurricanes (5-0).

"You get a breeze at one end, that you don't get at the other, which kind of affects which way you are kicking. And then the thing that makes it the most difficult is they have good players (laughing). I think that's the thing that makes it the most difficult."

During its home win streak, UM's lowest point total was the 27 points it scored in the thrilling 27-24 victory over the Seminoles two years ago. Scoring also has been high during the streak with the Hurricanes surpassing 30 points 17 times, 40 points 13 times, 50 points eight times and 60 points four times.

Additionally, the UM defense has posted five shutouts during the win streak and another six games when the opponent scored seven or less points. Over the last 11 home games since defeating Pittsburgh 35-7 on Nov. 11, 2000, the Hurricanes have outscored opponents 542-67 (49.3 to 6.1).

FSU offensive lineman Montrae Holland believes one key to surviving the Orange Bowl is remaining focused.

"You are going against a great team and then you have loud fans and that music playing," Holland said. "It's a place you really have to stay focused, because there's a lot of distractions. One time I looked up in the stands after the offense came off the field and there was a fight. The first time I touched the field I got cussed out by a fan."

Linebackers coach Joe Kines, meanwhile, said execution is the key to any team's success on the road.

"Once the game starts, that field is the same length. All that is the same," Kines said. "It's those guys out there between the stripes who make the difference."

While Miami might be a great vacation spot for many around the world, the Seminoles simply want to get in, win and get out.

"The fans aren't real appreciative of good football. They don't like you," said Randy Oravetz, FSU's Director of Sports Medicine.

"Everything you do down there is always a hassle. Unfortunately, even the people who work at the Orange Bowl are Miami fans. They are not going to go out of their way to help you. We do have a tendency to have our air conditioners get broken just as we show up. The telephone lines happen not to be working. We never use the water supply down there - that's part because it's a 50-year-old facility - we buy bottled water.

"A few years ago, we put a 1,000-pounds of ice on the sidelines, and after we went in (the locker room) the fans came out of the stands and ripped open all the bags and scattered the ice. So we had mounds of ice instead of bagged ice. Things like that really make life fun down there. You are ready to go home when it's time to go home."

In addition, the Seminoles are the Hurricanes' homecoming game.

"This is where I came in in '76," Bowden said of his hiring at FSU. "I think we played in four or five homecomings that year."

BACK IN ACTION: Starting middle linebacker Jerel Hudson returned to practice Wednesday, though he's not expected to be a full strength for the Hurricanes.

Hudson, a senior from Miami, is the Seminoles' fourth-leading tackler with 31 stops. The Seminoles are expected to have their hands full with the Hurricanes' running game, which is on pace to set a school record for single-season rushing yards. Also, tailback Willis McGahee's 8.1 average per rush ranks second nationally

"It's very important for me," Hudson said. " I waited five years for this, so I don't want anything to stop me. I know most of those guys."

If the Hurricanes continue their average of 225.2 yards per game the rest of the season, they will finish with more than 2,700 yards. That will eclipse the record of 2,558 yards set in 1954. UM coach Larry Coker has said McGahee may be the best back he's coached at Miami. After rushing for 60 yards in limited duty during the season opener against Florida A&M, McGahee has gained more than 100 yards in four straight games.

Bowden said Hudson's presence would be of great significance for the Seminoles.

"[The Miami running game] really is amazing. When [Clinton] Portis left early you wonder who's gonna take his place?" Bowden said. "Then they had the kid [Frank Gore] who played behind him last year who's so good, that's injured and is out, then they come in there with [Willis] McGahee and he is running as good as any of them."

Additionally, starting free safety B.J. Ward (shoulder stinger) also practiced but was held out of any contact drills. Bowden said he felt Ward would be limited to special teams play against the Hurricanes.

NO DIFFERENCE: Bowden said not much has changed in terms of preparation for the Hurricanes. It will mark the first time since FSU has faced the nation's top-ranked team in the regular-season since the Seminoles upended the Gators at Doak Campbell Stadium, 24-21, in 1996.

"There's a difference but no difference in that Miami every season is a highlight," Bowden said. "I don't look for fire during the week. I don't look for that. It's not when we need it. We need it Saturday. I look for hustling and working hard and they've done that."


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