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Title shot means little to Bowden

Although Florida State still can claim a share of the Atlantic Coast Conference title, coach Bobby Bowden isn't thinking about that at all.

"When it was in our hands, where if we won we were going to be it, I was concerned about it," he said Sunday morning.

Times have changed.

If Maryland beats North Carolina State on Saturday in Raleigh, then the Terrapins would win the title outright. If the Wolfpack, fresh off its dramatic 34-28 win against FSU, can pull off another upset and the Seminoles beat visiting Georgia Tech on Dec. 1, FSU would tie Maryland at 6-2 in the league.

"Right now, hoping that somebody else does this or that, I don't care what they do," Bowden said. "I just want to see if we can go out and play the best we can play and win another game."

Even if those two things were to occur, FSU might not earn the ACC's berth in the Bowl Championship Series. In the event of a two-way tie, the first tiebreaker uses an average of the AP and coaches polls. If Maryland were to finish more than five spots ahead of the Seminoles, it would be the BCS representative, most likely in the Orange Bowl.

Right now, Maryland's average poll ranking is 9.5; FSU's is 20.5. That means FSU likely needs to beat Florida, which would boost its poll position dramatically, to have a shot at a BCS spot.

LINE WOES: Junior offensive tackle Brett Williams is scheduled for an MRI today on his injured left knee, and based on the limited swelling overnight he's optimistic it's a sprain of the medial collateral ligament. If so, he could be back for Georgia Tech.

Still, freshman Alex Barron likely will start opposite Florida star end Alex Brown.

"He'll just have to get in there and fight," offensive line coach Jimmy Heggins said Sunday. "We can't change our whole game plan. But he is a very gifted athlete."

The 6-6, 302-pound Barron has played sparingly this season, predominantly in the waning moments of games.

"I told him last night, "Somebody (Donald Heaven) got hurt my freshman year and gave me a shot and now I'm passing it on to you,' " Williams said. "He's going to have his hands full, but he can do it."

RUNNING CONCERNS ALLEVIATED: A CAT scan on sophomore tailback Greg Jones' neck was negative, alleviating fears he suffered more than a cervical sprain. Jones said he expects to play, and that's huge considering he's averaging 95.5 yards in his past four games.

"I'll probably practice, but without shoulder pads," he said.

Junior tailback Nick Maddox, who has been splitting time with Jones, surprisingly played Saturday despite a sprained left ankle. He had one run for 4 yards and caught four passes for 42 yards.

"I wanted to hold Nick out 'cause I was afraid he might get hurt again and I'd lose him for the rest of the season," Bowden said.

Maddox said he had no trouble once he had his ankle re-taped after his rush.

"I'm fine," Maddox said. "I have a little nagging pain, but it's nothing that I can't walk with or play with or threaten my career. I expect to get in that game and play as hard as I can as often as I can. Hopefully, me and Greg will get back together and be that 1-2 punch again."

THE LAST WORD: "We're not having a good year comparable to Florida State's standards lately. But we're not having any worse a year than Alabama had or Miami had several years ago or Florida had several years ago or Notre Dame has had every year. Take all the traditional powers. They have those kind of years and darn it, we're kind of having one of those years this year. But the thing that's important is, and I'll hammer to our people, "Hey. This is one year, it is not eternity. We don't plan on doing this every year. This is this year.' " _ Bowden on the lost streaks of 10-win seasons and Top 5 finishes.

_ BRIAN LANDMAN

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