Each week, Florida State coach Bobby Bowden has drawn a line through one more item on the Things To Do List he crafted in the preseason.
Much to his chagrin.
"Our goal was to win the conference championship, get to a BCS game, win it, and see what happens then," he said Sunday, not needing to say that not one of those is still possible. "But as your season goes along, your goals begin to dwindle and the next big one is to get a bowl bid."
Any one will do. The Seminoles (5-5, 3-4 ACC) have an NCAA-leading 27 straight bowl appearances, and with their 41-28 win Saturday at Wake Forest they enhanced their chances to reach the magic number of six wins to extend that streak, perhaps in the Music City against an SEC team Dec. 27 or the Emerald Bowl against a Pac-10 team Dec. 26.
FSU's best shot would be to wrap up a bowl berth on Saturday against visiting Maryland (2-8, 1-5), which has lost their its five. FSU closes the regular season at No. 1 Florida on Nov. 28.
"We've been talking about it, that we can't be the team that doesn't go to a bowl game in 28 years," sophomore LB Nigel Bradham said.
"(With a) disappointing year like we've had up until this point, there's still some goals out there that you and your players and your fans would want," Bowden said.
Bowden did talk excitedly about how strong the offense could be next year. The offense had only one senior (WR Rod Owens) and two juniors (OG Rodney Hudson and C Ryan McMahon) start Saturday.
"It's very encouraging," Bowden said. "They can be one of the best next year, no doubt about it. And not only will you have one outstanding quarterback coming back (Christian Ponder), but you're going to have another young one coming back (EJ Manuel) who looks like he's going to be in the same mold."
OMEN THE ODDS-MAKERS MISSED: Few gave FSU much of a shot against Wake Forest with Ponder out and redshirt freshman Manuel making his first start. But Wake Forest had faced a No. 2 QB two other times this season, against Navy and Boston College, and lost both. Hmm.
SUBPLOT: The Maryland game will include a celebration for retiring defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews. Said Bowden: "That's going to be a sentimental thing for all of us. I think everybody's going to want to play their best since it'll be his last home game in Tallahassee."
Brian Landman, Times staff writer