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SCOUTING REPORT: CLEMSON

For Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, the Clemson Tigers are predictably unpredictable.

One week, the Tigers of Tommy Bowden can dominate Georgia Tech in Atlanta, cruising 39-3 behind the stellar passing of sophomore Charlie Whitehurst and the receiving tandem of Kevin Youngblood and Derrick Hamilton. The next, they can look feeble at Maryland, losing 21-7.

One week they can beat Virginia in overtime, 30-27. Last weekend, there was a mystifying 45-17 loss at Wake Forest.

"You watch them play Virginia, they look as good as anybody," papa Bowden said of his son's team (5-4, 3-3).

"You watch them play Georgia Tech and they really beat them; we struggled the whole game," Bobby Bowden said.

FSU needed two fourth-quarter touchdowns and a last-minute interception to defeat the Yellow Jackets 14-13, in Tallahassee, mind you.

"They've kind of played good-bad, good-bad, so it's time for good again," he said. "I imagine we will catch the same intensity we caught in '99 when we went up there with our undefeated football team and had to fight for our lives; got behind 14-3 at the half and finally won it in the fourth quarter. ... I know what we're in for and we must get that message across to our players."

HEY MICHAEL AND JESSICA, GOT A MINUTE?

Senior linebacker Michael Boulware, a semifinalist for the Butkus Award, and senior pitcher/outfielder Jessica van der Linden, a first-team All-American for the softball team, are Florida State's power couple. If this were Hollywood, they'd be Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt. They recently took a minute to chat with Times staff writer Brian Landman.

BL: Michael, have any of your teammates ribbed you about taking yourself off the market?

MB: No. I was never a guy who dated around. Jessica is actually the first girlfriend I've ever had.

BL: Who picks out the decorations for the house after the wedding?

JL: We both will.

MB: We're planning the wedding (together). She has her opinion on some things and I have mine, but we find a happy medium.

BL: But in the event of the tie, who has the vote?

JL: If he likes something and I like something, we might go for something else.

MB: Or I might get this one and she'll get this one.

BL: Michael, your older brother Pete (a former All-American and star with the Baltimore Ravens) is married to a former FSU athlete, volleyball player Kensey Zulueta. If you four get together for a mixed doubles tennis or ping pong, which couple wins?

MB: Since we're so competitive, I'll say we will.

BL: Any trash talking in that match?

MB: Pete and I trash talk ...

JL: I don't think we would.

BL: You guys hit Lotto, what's the first thing you buy?

MB: She wants a house.

BL: And you?

MB: A car. ... We'd probably pay for the wedding and the honeymoon.

OFFBEAT

Senior defensive tackle Darnell Dockett is getting plenty of love from national publications. The Sporting News named him to its Half-Season All-America team and the Halloween issue of Sports Illustrated on Campus pictured him _ in a Tallahassee cemetery _ as the scariest player in college football.

He does have 14 tackles for a loss, 41 in all (sixth on the team), and 13 quarterback hurries. Despite those numbers and the vocal leadership he has been providing, Dockett doesn't seem to be scaring up much support for national honors.

The Bednarik Award, which goes to the nation's top defensive player, didn't included him on its list. Frustrating? Nah.

"I'm not worried about that stuff," he said. "As long as we keep winning, that's what's important."

QUOTABLE

"You're looking right square in the eyes of a trap." _ FSU coach Bobby Bowden on Saturday's game against a Clemson team coming off a 45-17 loss at Wake Forest.

BOWL METER

The Seminoles can clinch the ACC title outright for a ninth time in 12 years (they shared two others since joining the league) Saturday at Clemson. That would wrap up a Bowl Championship Series berth, but they remain in the hunt for a shot at the national title in the Sugar Bowl.

_ Compiled by Brian Landman.

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