Oct. 20, 1997
Florida State Travels to Virginia
SETTING THE SCENE: No. 3 Florida State (6-0, 4-0 ACC) travels to Charlottesville, the site of the Seminoles' only ACC loss, to take on Virginia (4-2, 3-1 ACC). The Seminoles' boast the No. 1 defense in the nation, allowing just 189.3 yards per game, while the Cavaliers are posting 308.67 yards per game of total offense -- 90th in the nation. FSU's 10th-ranked offense (452.17 YPG) will take on a Virginia defense that is ranked 14th in the nation and allowing 285 yards per game. FSU is looking for their 15th straight ACC victory since Virginia halted the Tribe's ACC record 29-game winning streak in 1995.
THE OPPONENT: After losing two of their first three games, the Virginia Cavaliers have won three straight to improve to 4-2 with a 3-1 conference record. The Cavalier defense is anchored by safety Anthony Poindexter who has three interceptions on the season and linebacker Wali Rainer, who leads the ACC in tackles per game with 14.2. Tailback Thomas Jones leads UVa with 67.8 rushing yards per game, while quarterback Aaron Brooks passes for 180.2 yards per game.
SERIES NOTES: Florida State leads the series 4-1. FSU's 29-game ACC record winning streak since joining the conference in 1992 was snapped the last time the Tribe traveled to Charlottesville with a 33-28 upset by the Cavaliers. Warrick Dunn was stopped inches short of the goal line as time expired on the Thursday night ESPN contest. Virginia has held a halftime lead in the last two meetings. Dunn and former Virginia defensive back Ronde Barber are teammates on the Tampa Bay Bucs. Last year, Dunn and Ronde's brother, Tiki, each rushed for over 100 yards and combined for 281 yards on the ground.
PLAYING FOR THE TROPHY
Thomas Jefferson, U.S. president and founder of the University of Virginia, was the grandfather of Francis Eppes VII. Eppes, a three-time mayor of Tallahassee, was a longtime president of the Board of Education of the Seminary West of the Suwannee, the institutional forerunner of what is today Florida State University. To commemorate this bond, the winner of the Florida State-Virginia football game takes home the Jefferson-Eppes Trophy. The trophy comprises a silver pitcher, which was presented to Eppes in 1842, set atop a wooden base crafted from the remains of UVa's massive McGuffey Ash. The trophey first traded hands in Sept. 1996 with its presentation to the Cavaliers. FSU took it back last year win a 31-24 win.
Virginia quarterbacks have struggled against the Seminoles defense over the course of the five-game series. Cavalier quarterbacks have completed 67-of-153 for 866 yards with seven TDs and nine interceptions. The Tribe has sacked the Cavalier QBs 18 times. The per game averages: 13.4 completions; 30.6 attempts; 1.8 INT; 1.4 TD; 173.2 yards. Virginia QB Aaron Brooks played, but did not start against the Seminoles last year. He ran for a TD, and completed one pass for 13 yards (four attempts). Brooks will face an FSU pass defense that is ranked sixth in the nation.
Both Sides of the Ball
Florida State is one of only two teams that is currently ranked in the NCAA top ten in both total offense and total defense. The Seminoles enter the Virginia game ranked No. 1 in total defense, giving up 189.3 yards per game, while ranking No. 10 in total offense. Nebraska is the only other team to be in the top 10 in both categories, ranking No. 1 in total offense and No. 5 in total defense.
The Seminole defense has been ranked in the top 10 in total defense dating back to the season-opener of the 1996 season against Duke. Currently ranking No. 1 in total defense, the Seminoles have spent six weeks in the top spot and three weeks at No. 2 over the last 17 weeks. The Seminole defense, surrendering only 189.3 yards per game, will face the 90th-ranked offense of Virginia in this week's game. The Cavaliers are averaging 309 yards per game in six games so far this season.
COWART HAS A NOSE FOR THE BALL
Butkus Award Semifinalist Sam Cowart is known for making big plays and has two touchdowns on the season to show for it. Cowart recovered a fumble for 24 yards and a TD against Duke, while he dove on a loose ball in the endzone against Clemson for a score.
ABOUT 'OL BUZZ
Senior quarterback Thad Busby is currently averaging 299.2 yards per game, which projected through 11 games, would be 3,297 passing yards this season. The current FSU season passing yardage record is 3,124 held by Peter Tom Willis set in 1989. Busby has had six consecutive 250-yard passing games. The record for 200-yard passing games in a season is nine by Gary Huff ('72), Peter Tom Willis ('89) and Charlie Ward ('93). Huff has the record for consecutive 200-yard passing games with 11.
Thad Busby completed 30 of 47 passes for 399 yards for his third 300-yard passing game of the season against Georgia Tech. Busby now has six career 300-yard passing games which ties Charlie Ward and Peter Tom Willis for third on the FSU all-time list. Busby is tied for seventh with Ward and Gary Schofield of Wake Forest on the ACC all-time list.
- Busby's completions (30), attempts (47) and yards (399) were all career-highs against Georgia Tech. His 399 yards is the ninth best single-game performance in FSU history.
- With his performance against Tech, Busby moved up to sixth on the FSU career passing yards list. Busby now has 4,394 yards passing in his career.
- Busby now has 1,795 yards passing this season, just 71 yards short of his season total of 1,866 yards from last season.
Florida State was officially named a college football dynasty by the NCAA in the organization's record book. The Seminoles are the only Division I school ever to win at least 10 games for 10 straight years. The Tribe has posted a 113-14-1 mark since 1987. Bobby Bowden has also led his teams to an NCAA record 10 straight Top Four finishes in the Associated Press poll.
ON THE END
Tight end Melvin Pearsall is already having a career season. His 18 catches for 163 yards this season are career-highs. Pearsall's seven receptions against Maryland equalled his single-game all-time high of seven from 1994, also against the Terps. It also equalled his overall total of seven catches in 1995 and one shy of his overall total of eight catches from the 1996 season. His 65 yards receiving vs. the Terps was also his second-highest single game total, after the 90 yards he gained in the 1994 Maryland game. He needs just two touchdowns to tie Johnson's FSU all-time career record of 10 TD scores by a tight end.
TD's in a career by a tight end (top 4):
Lonnie Johnson 10
Melvin Pearsall 8
Kurt Unglaub 8
Pat Carter 7
E.G. MAKES HISTORY
Biletnikoff Award candidate E.G. Green set a new Florida State record as he extended his streak of consecutive games with a catch to 31 games against Miami. He increased the record to 33 games with a catch against Georgia Tech. Including bowl games, Green has caught a pass in 33 consecutive games dating back to the 1994 Notre Dame game in Orlando. Green is a two-time second team All-ACC selection and has led the team in receiving for two straight seasons.
GREEN WITH ENVY
- Green went over 100-yards receiving for the eighth time in his career with six catches for a career-high 166 yards against Georgia Tech. He is tied for third with Fred Biletnikoff, Jesse Hester and Lawrence Dawsey on the career 100-yard receiving game list. Only Ron Sellers (19) and Barry Smith (11) have more 100-yard games.
- E.G. Green's 137 career receptions ranks third on the FSU all-time list.
- With his 166 yards receiving, Green moved into fourth place of the FSU career receiving yardage list with 2,351 yards.
SHUTTING IT DOWN
With their 38-0 victory against Georgia Tech, FSU posted back-to-back home shutouts for the first time since 1993. (FSU defeated Miami at home 47-0 on October 4th.) In 1993, the Seminoles shutout Clemson, 57-0, on Sept. 11th and defeated Georgia Tech, 51-0, on October 2nd. It is also the last time FSU had two shutouts in a season.
- It was just the second time in the Bowden era that a Seminole squad has produced back-to-back home shutouts.
- The Seminoles shut out opponents at home in 10 consecutive quarters. Florida State has outscored opponents at home 135-7.
- The Florida State defense did not allow Tech past the Florida State 39-yard line.
WHO MIGHT GET STAGE FRIGHT
Florida State is accustomed to playing in front of the cameras of the major networks and has posted a 99-32-4 on television. The Seminoles are 22-4 when playing on ESPN. The Tribe is 60-24-4 when playing on national television.
FLORIDA STATE & BOBBY BOWDEN'S UNPRECEDENTED SUCCESS
- FSU is the only team in the history of college football to finish among the Associated Press Top Four for 10 consecutive seasons.
- Florida State also has the NCAA record for most consecutive bowl victories as the Seminoles won 11 straight from 1986 to 1996.
- The Seminoles are the only team in the history of the game to post a 14-game bowl unbeaten streak.
- Florida State has won five straight ACC Championships and has lost just once in 43 games against conference teams.
- FSU has been the most successful college team during the 1990s, posting a 81-10-1 record (.886) during this decade.
- Florida State players have won the Heisman, Thorpe (twice), Butkus (twice), O'Brien, Maxwell and Lombardi Awards.
- Bobby Bowden is the only coach in college football history to post 10 straight 10-win seasons.
- Over the last 10 years alone, Florida State has won the Orange (3), Fiesta (2), Sugar (2), Blockbuster (1) and Cotton Bowls (1).
- Bowden is the nation's winningest all-time bowl coach in terms of percentage with a .816 (15-3-1) mark. His 15 victories tie him for second on the all-time list with Bear Bryant, one behind Joe Paterno. At FSU, Bowden's teams are 14-2-1 in bowls (.853).
WADSWORTH & THE LOMBARDI
Defensive end Andre Wadsworth has been named one of 12 Lombardi Award semifinalists. Wadsworth leads the ACC with seven sacks and has recorded 26 tackles, including nine for a loss, this season. Four finalists for the award will be announced on Oct. 31st.
MAKING BIG PLAYS
After not forcing a single turnover against Maryland, Florida State has forced nine in the last four games. The defense and special teams have scored three touchdowns. FSU is ranked 26th in the nation with a 0.67 turnover margin.
- Sam Cowart's fumble recovery for a TD against the Tigers was his first score of his career. It was also the first time a Seminole has recovered a fumble for a score since Shevin Smith returned a fumble 54 yards yards to the endzone against Miami in 1996. Cowart followed it up with a 24-yard fumble return for a TD against Duke.
- Tommy Polley's blocked punt against Duke allowed Derrick Gibson to recover the ball in the endzone for an FSU score.
AGAINST RANKED FOES
After wins over No. 23 Southern California, No. 15 Clemson and No. 21 Georgia Tech, Florida State is 57-61-4 vs. AP Top 25 opponents. FSU is 23-5-1 vs. ranked teams in its last 28 such games.
AYE, AYE CAPTAIN
Coach Bowden named the game captains for the season at the Seminoles' annual kickoff luncheon. Center Kevin Long will lead the offense, LB Daryl Bush will captain the defense and CB Shevin Smith is the special teams captain. At the end of the season, the team will vote on permanent captains.
Kicker Sebastian Janikowski booted 4-of-7 kickoffs for touchbacks against Georgia Tech. Janikowksi has 24 touchbacks on 45 kickoffs (53 percent).
Bush & Cowart Tackle Cavs
Butkus semi-finalists Daryl Bush and Sam Cowart each have over 30 career tackles against Virginia. Bush has recorded 39 tackles with a pair of sacks while Cowart has totaled 31 tackles and one sack. The last time out in Charlottesville, Bush (15) and Cowart (18) had their best day vs the Cavaliers in FSU's only ACC loss.
Rolle On INT Streak
Senior cornerback Samari Rolle has recorded one interception in each of the last two meetings against Virginia. Rolle is tied for second on the team this year with two interceptions (Tay Cody leads with three).
New Faces in Ground Game
No current Florida State tailback has carried the ball against Virginia. Fullback Khalid Abdullah is the only running back to ever rush against the Cavaliers. Abdullah totaled 30 yards on six carries in last year's 31-24 FSU victory.
BOWDEN IN ELITE COMPANY
Bobby Bowden ranks seventh for career wins at a single school with 203 total. He also places fourth of all active head coaches with his 203 wins at one school. Bowden is 8-2-1 in head-to-head matchups against 200-win club coaches.
No. Coach, School Years Wins
1. *Joe Paterno, Penn State 1966-present 295
2. *Tom Osborne, Nebraska 1973-present 248
3. Amos Alonzo Stagg, Chicago 1892-1932 244
4. Bear Bryant, Alabama 1958-82 232
*LaVell Edwards, Brigham Young 1972-present 232
6. Woody Hayes, Ohio State 1951-78 205
7. *Bobby Bowden, Florida State 1976-present 203
8. Vince Dooley, Georgia 1962-88 201
* - active
FORMER WALK-ONS EARN THEIR KEEP
Once upon a time, defensive end Andre Wadsworth and rover safety Shevin Smith were walk-ons at Florida State. Now, the Miami natives are not only starters, but candidates for national awards and recognition. Wadsworth, who leads FSU with seven sacks after moving to end from the interior this season, is a Lombardi Award semifinalist and has been listed among the top picks for the NFL Draft after this season. Smith, a Jim Thorpe Award candidate, has 20 tackles, two interceptions and three pass break-ups on the season.
USA Today/ESPN AP
Top 25 Top 25
1. Nebraska 1
2. Penn State 2
3. FLORIDA STATE 3
4. N. Carolina 4
5. Michigan 5
6. Florida 6
7. Washington 7
8. Tennessee 8
9. Ohio State 9
10. Washington State 10
11. Auburn 12
12. Oklahoma State 12
13. Kansas State 14
14. Michigan State 15
15. LSU 17
16. UCLA 13
17. Virginia Tech 19
18. Georgia 16
19. Iowa 18
20. West Virginia 21
21. Texas A&M 20
22. Arizona State 23
23. Purdue 22
24. Air Force NR
25. Syracuse NR
NR Toledo 24
NR Mississippi 25