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One great play, well, mostly great

It was the kind of play that makes the highlight tapes.

On a second and 10 from his 13 late in the opening quarter Saturday, Florida State quarterback Chris Rix avoided a potential safety by breaking away from Notre Dame defender. He then rolled to his left, avoided another would-be tackler and spotted P.K. Sam deep downfield.

"I really didn't realize how far away I was, but I started waving for the ball," Sam said.

Rix, before going out of bounds, lofted the ball toward Sam. Sam cut in front of Dwight Ellick, a former Wharton star cornerback, and used his height (5 inches) and weight (almost 20 pounds) advantage to shield him from the ball. Sam came down with a 48-yard catch that helped set up a touchdown.

"I just trying to give P.K. a chance down there and he made a great play," Rix said.

It also was the kind of play that makes the Seminoles lowlights.

"If I were grading it, I'd have to give him three different grades: I'd give him F, F, A," coach Bobby Bowden said Sunday. "One F was when he rolled back in the end zone and escaped that guy; he should have thrown the ball away. The other F was when the other guy was about to get him and he spun all the way around, turned his back to everybody and ran out. I'd give him a F there. But then when he runs to his left full speed and throws way back to his right and we catch it, I'd give him an A."

That summed up Rix's day and much of his up-and-down career. He can do some ill-advised things, but in the next moment dazzle.

"It's amazing. Gollee," Bowden said. "He's done that so many times in his life where he's doing something where you're sitting there yelling, "No. No. No. No. Yeah.' "

NO NEED TO FRET: Bowden said he didn't think receiver Craphonso Thorpe would be mentally at his best if he attended his grandfather's funeral on Friday, which would force him to travel separately and arrive at the team hotel outside of South Bend after team meetings.

"He said, "Coach, if I come up there, you don't have to worry about me being ready. If I walk out there, I promise you I'll be ready,' " Bowden said. "I said, "Son. That's all I want to hear.' I learned something about him right there."

Thorpe had 217 yards receiving, the biggest day of any receiver against Notre Dame.

"What he did was he came up and performed better than you could expect," Bowden said.

INJURY REPORT: Defensive end Eric Moore sprained his right ankle, cornerback Leroy Smith suffered a left hip pointer and former Lakewood star linebacker Marcello Church bruised his lower back. Meanwhile, linebacker Kendyll Pope (right knee sprain) said he expects to practice Tuesday and hopes to play for the first time in three weeks on Saturday at Clemson. "I don't have but three (games) left," the senior said.

HE SAID IT: "I would think anybody in the Top 10 with one loss is excited. And yet, it doesn't mean a thing if you lose the next game." _ Bowden on his team moving up two spots to No. 3 in both major polls and its national championship implications.

_ BRIAN LANDMAN

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