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FSU leans on history of success in Jacksonville

TALLAHASSEE

Maybe it's something in the water, the Atlantic as opposed to the Gulf, but the Seminoles historically have fared well in Jacksonville, the site for Saturday's game against undefeated Colorado.

During coach Bobby Bowden's 33-year tenure, the Seminoles are 8-1 in Jacksonville, including a huge upset against Virginia Tech in the inaugural ACC championship game in 2005 to earn a trip to the Orange Bowl, then a win last year against Alabama. The lone loss came in the 1989 opener to Southern Mississippi, which was led by daring, strong-armed QB Brett Favre.

"We ain't lost a whole lot of games over there," Bowden said. "That town's been good to us."

Part of the reason is Jacksonville's proximity to Tallahassee, which translates into a big homefield advantage against most teams. That wouldn't be the case if FSU were playing, say the Florida Gators. As Bowden says, "That's their home, too. It ain't Colorado's home."

FSU president T.K. Wetherell is a proponent of moving what would be an FSU home game to a "neutral site" elsewhere in the state, namely Tampa or Orlando.

Ticket update: About 42,000 tickets have been sold for the FSU-Colorado game (roughly 29,000 to FSU fans and 3,500 to Colorado and the rest locally in Jacksonville), Gator Bowl Association president Rick Catlett said.

"We're pretty pleased," he said.

When the game was announced, Catlett said the goal was 50,000 to 55,000 — modest compared to 85,412 for last year's FSU-Alabama showdown — and that the upper deck of Jacksonville Municipal Stadium would be closed. That goal, he said, is still within range and would represent a win-win; it costs less to operate the stadium when it's set up like that, and that means FSU could have a $1.5-million payday.

He waited for this?: WR/RB Preston Parker returned last week from a two-game suspension for his offseason arrest and had a team-high 34 yards receiving on three catches, including a spectacular catch against Wake Forest. But he also had a fumble and a costly personal foul.

Said offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher of Parker's penalty: "You applaud his toughness and competitiveness, but like I was telling him, 'Toughness without intelligence, isn't the toughness I need. We need toughness with intelligence.' … He knows that."

For those scoring at home: Junior DE Markus White seemingly had a huge play late in the third quarter, sacking QB Riley Skinner for a 10-yard loss on a third and 10 from the Wake 35. Not so fast. White was flagged for a face mask and a 15-yard penalty.

Slow-motion replays seemingly showed that White brushed the face mask at the most and most definitely didn't "twist, turn or pull" it as the new rule prohibits. Defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews said the officials have a tough job and no one expects perfection. Still …

"They're out there for a paycheck, and we're trying to keep our job," he deadpanned. "It behooves us to get them to do the best they can do at their job."

First time for everything: Senior DB Rod Roberts, a former Hernando High star, had his first career sack (an 11-yard loss) in the waning moments of the opening quarter Saturday.

The 500 club: With Saturday's game, Bowden will join another select fraternity of Division I-A coaches who have reached the 500-game milestone. The others: Amos Alonzo Stagg (1890 to 1946) at 548 and Joe Paterno (1966 to present) at 504.

"It's kind of like me and Joe trying to be No. 1 (in wins)," Bowden said recently. "It's irrelevant. If it happens, it happens. If I live seven more days I've got that record. Oh boy. … It's called old age, ain't it?"

Brian Landman can be reached at landman@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3347. Read his blog at blogs. tampabay.com/seminoles

FSU leans on history of success in Jacksonville 09/24/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 24, 2008 7:46pm]

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