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Expect FSU to let the sod lie

The "cemetery" is a memorial to ground-breaking moments in Florida State football history.

When the Seminoles have gone on the road as an underdog and won, especially during Bobby Bowden's tenure, they have ripped up a clump of grass and sod from that field, taken it back to Tallahassee and buried it there.

There are pieces from the Orange Bowl, most recently from last year's win against Miami, the Swamp in Gainesville, Michigan Stadium, Nebraska's Memorial Stadium and Notre Dame's hallowed ground, to name a few.

You'd think a win this weekend at No.

5 North Carolina would mean another burial planned for Sunday.

Well, maybe not.

"We started sod games when we were the underdog on the road," Bowden said. "We're not the underdog, so I have mixed emotions about that. Do we want to go up there and declare ourselves the underdog?"

He thinks not.

But there are already plenty of Atlantic Coast Conference plots. FSU's 24-20 win at Clemson's "Death Valley" and 29-24 win at Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd Stadium in 1992, the Seminoles' first year in the ACC, were sod games. The 1988 win at Clemson, on the "puntrooskie" play, was a sod game, too. There's even a memento from a game against North Carolina, the 1983 Peach Bowl at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium.

THE OTHER BIG ONE: It will not decide the league title, but Saturday's Georgia Tech at Virginia game, shown regionally on ABC, will shape the bowl future for both clubs. Virginia is 5-3, but one win was against I-AA Richmond, meaning it must win two of its final three to reach the minimum number for bowl consideration. Tech is 4-3, and all the wins count, but the Yellow Jackets don't want to face the situation of must-wins against Duke, Maryland and/or Georgia to get to six.

"I don't like to talk about post-season play, but this will go a long way in determining what kind of season we have," Virginia coach George Welsh said.

GOOD NEWS: Clemson reserve center Matt McLeod is doing better after surgery on his left leg and hip after an accident on campus Tuesday night. A van collided with his motorcycle.

"I talked to Matt this morning," Clemson coach Tommy West said Wednesday. "The surgery, they thought, was successful and he'll probably be in the hospital for 7-10 days, then probably more surgery will have to be done to replace or repair tissues and skin grafts. He's really got a pretty bad injury to the leg, but he's fortunate that it's not worse than it was."

McLeod, a 6-foot, 275-pound senior, has a year of eligibility available.

BAD BREAK: Improving Wake Forest will be without quarterback Brian Kuklick on Saturday against Rutgers and possibly on Nov. 15 in its season finale against FSU. Kuklick sustained a hairline fracture in his right leg apparently after absorbing a helmet-first shot during the first quarter against Clemson.

"It's a non-weight-bearing bone," coach Jim Caldwell said. "It's still tender and he can't run right now. He can walk without any noticeable limp, but he can't push off. We'll rehab him this week and see how it goes. If he plays with it, he's not in any danger of displacing a bone, so there's a possibility he still can come back and play."

SLEEPLESS IN DURHAM: Duke coach Fred Goldsmith said he didn't lose sleep during last year's 0-11 debacle; his team wasn't that close to winning too often. But already this year, the Blue Devils have lost at Northwestern 24-20, lost at Maryland 16-10, lost at Virginia 13-10 and then lost last week at home to Wake Forest 38-24 after being tied at the half at 24.

"We're close; we've almost overcome," he said. "That's been the frustrating part. But also you can smile to see a brighter future with almost all these boys coming back for a couple years."

QUOTE, UNQUOTE: "Our fans will be here. That is not a concern of mine. I'm worried about us playing the game and winning the game." _ North Carolina State coach Mike O'Cain on the prospects that football fans in Raleigh may skip the Wolfpack's home game against Maryland to be in Chapel Hill.

_ BRIAN LANDMAN

Up next:Say It

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