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UF game now truly a rivalry

When Bobby Bowden took over at Florida State in 1976, he recognized that Florida wasn't a true rival.

At the time, Florida had a 15-2-1 record against the Seminoles.

"It was a rivalry from Florida State, but not from Florida; Florida had bigger rivalries with Georgia and others," Bowden said. "Until you start beating somebody, it's not a rivalry."

The turning point came in 1977.

The Seminoles went to Gainesville and beat UF 37-9. That 28-point victory is the second-largest for FSU and sixth-largest margin overall in the 45-game series.

"We finally beat them and we started beating them every other year or we'd win four and they'd come back and win five," Bowden said. "So now all of a sudden, it's a I'm-not-sure-who's-going-to-win kind of thing. It built into a real good rivalry. It's heated more than the Miami one. And it's really gotten heated up since he's (Steve Spurrier) come (in 1990) because they've gotten so good."

REMEMBER WHEN?: Bowden was hard-pressed to recall a game in which his team had pulled out a victory in the final moment, as it tried to do Saturday against N.C. State. He came up with a 17-14 win against Pittsburgh in his last season at West Virginia in 1975. Bill McKenzie hit a 34-yard field goal as time expired.

STAT OF THE WEAK: Last season, the Seminoles beat North Carolina and N.C. State by a combined score of 121-28. This season, they lost to both by a combined 75-37. That's a swing of 131 points.

READY TO PLAY: Junior defensive back/special teams playerPatrick Newton, the former Shorecrest Prep standout, will be back Saturday. He missed the past two games after suffering mild concussions in back-to-back games.

"I felt fine, they just did it as a precaution," he said. "I can't wait to get out there. I can't think of anything more frustrating than standing on the sideline."

GOTTA LIKE HOME COOKING: For the first time, FSU hosts the ACC volleyball tournament and that looms as a big advantage for the Seminoles, who need to win to ensure an NCAA Tournament berth.

"That's all I want, to win it here," senior middle hitter Norisha Campbell said.

"We've been getting great fan support here," added junior hitter Alex Sevillano, the former Clearwater High standout. "We have to defend Tully (Gymnasium). We're not going to lose at home."

In fact, No. 4-seeded FSU, which opens Friday against Wake Forest, has won six consecutivehome matches, including a 3-0 win against No. 2-seeded North Carolina last Friday, and is 9-3 overall. FSU has drawn an average of 556 fans.

"We've been playing really well at home, but then we've just been playing some good volleyball of late," coach Cecile Reynaud said.

FSU has won 11 of 14 down the stretch. Two of the losses were to top-seeded Duke.

"Everyone realized to get far you have to come out and play with your whole heart and that's what we've been doing lately," Campbell said. "We've been leaving everything on the court."

NATIONAL RUN: Based on their Top 25 finishes at the South Region meet last weekend, FSU men's cross-country runners Joep Tigchelaar and Kim Bergdahl and women's runner Vicky Gill qualified individually for the NCAA championship Monday at Furman.

_ Brian Landman covers Florida State athletics. He can be reached by e-mail at landmansptimes.com or at (813) 226-3347.

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