Official: Florida State to Gator Bowl

The Gator Bowl association announced Sunday evening at their press briefing that Florida State will meet West Virginia in the Konica Minolta Gator Bowl to be played on January 1, 2010. It marks the third consecutive season that Florida State will play a game in Jacksonville and the first time playing in the Gator Bowl since 2005.

After much debate on whether the Gator Bowl association would be able to offer Florida State a bid to play in their bowl game, the discussion has come to an end. Florida State will spend New Year's Day in Jacksonville where the Seminoles will take on the West Virginia Mountaineers.

The Gator Bowl announced last week that if Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden were to announce his retirement, they would give the Seminoles a bid to play in their bowl if they were able to. Tuesday afternoon, Bowden announced his retirement and the Gator Bowl confirmed with the ACC Sunday afternoon that they could select Florida State, which they have done.

"Whether you're a Florida State fan or not, you got to appreciate what Bobby Bowden has done," Daniel Murphy of the Gator Bowl said. "We're very excited that he will coach his final game in our bowl game."

"It excites me to know that we're going to go to the Gator Bowl," said Bowden, who has won 388 games over the course of his 44 seasons as a head coach including the last 34 at Florida State. "The first bowl I was associated with was as an assistant coach at Florida State in 1964 when we played Oklahoma in the (Jan. 2, 1965) Gator Bowl.

"It excites me that we're going to play West Virginia, where I coached for 10 years; six as the head coach," Bowden said of the Mountaineers (9-3) out of the Big East Conference. "I've seen West Virginia play two or three time times this season and I'm very impressed with them."

"And of course the first bowl in our 28-bowl streak was against West Virginia in the (1982) Gator Bowl."

Florida State's opponent, West Virginia finished second in the Big East with a 9-3 (5-2) record. West Virginia knocked off #9 Pittsburgh and won at Rutgers in their final two weeks of the season to clinch second place in their conference.

West Virginia boasts a solid rushing attack which is something that has given Florida State fits all season long. Running back Noel Devine, who most Seminole fans are familiar with from his recruitment leads the Mountaineer ground game as he has ran for 1,297 yards and 12 touchdowns on the season.

Noel Devine will present a huge challenge for the Florida State defense.

As stated, the match-up puts Bobby Bowden coaching against his former team, West Virginia in what is expected to be the final game of his career. Bowden coached at West Virginia from 1970-1975 where he compiled a 42-26 record. In 1976, Bowden took the head coaching job at Florida State where he has been ever since.

Bowden will coach his final game in the Gator Bowl.

With the Gator Bowl being Bowden's final game of his career, it is expected to draw ample national attention. A sell-out is likely and the interest of this game is second to only a few BCS games.

"I don't think that there are many icons left in the sporting world and obviously Bobby Bowden ranks right up there, above being one of the greatest coaches of all time," Gator Bowl president Rick Catlett said. "To have an opportunity to give him a farewell party with 80,000 people watching is something the Gator Bowl will be very proud of."

"We definitely expect a sold out stadium," Murphy said. "If the demand is there, we will definitely add seats."

The game is set to be played at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium on January 1, 2010. Kickoff is set for 1:00 p.m.

The game will mark the Seminoles first trip to the Gator Bowl since 2005 where they defeated West Virginia by the score of 30-18. It will mark Florida State's first January Bowl game since they played Penn State in the 2006 Orange Bowl.

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