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Updated: Saturday, January 1, 2005 11:30 AM EST
NCAA FOOTBALL PREVIEW
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No. 15 Florida St (8-3) vs. No. 23 W. Virginia (8-3) Gator
FLORIDA ST. SEMINOLES
Florida St. Seminoles
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WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS
West Virginia Mountaineers
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JACKSONVILLE, Florida (Ticker) -- Bobby Bowden faces his former team for only the second time when No. 15 Florida State takes on No. 23 West Virginia in the Gator Bowl.

In his 29th season as coach at Florida State, Bowden posted an 42-26 record in six years at West Virginia from 1970-1975. He has coached the Seminoles since 1976.

In the only previous meeting between the teams, Bowden beat the Mountaineers, 30-17, in the 1982 Gator Bowl.

West Virginia is making its second straight appearance in the Gator Bowl and fifth overall, but the Mountaineers lost their four previous visits, including an embarrassing 41-7 defeat to Maryland last year. West Virginia also lost in the Gator Bowl to Clemson in 1989 (27-7) and to North Carolina in 1997 (20-13).

The Mountaineers also are looking to give coach Rich Rodriguez his first bowl victory. While West Virginia has dropped 10 of its last 11 bowl games, Rodriguez is 0-2 in the postseason, also losing to Virginia in the 2002 Continental Tire Bowl.

Florida State is making its 21st straight bowl appearance but also has dropped its last two, falling to Georgia in the 2003 Sugar Bowl and to Miami in last year's Orange Bowl.

The matchup pits two teams who ended their regular seasons in disappointing fashion. West Virginia dropped its last two games, to Boston College and Pittsburgh, while Florida State was upset by Florida, 20-13, in its final game, the Seminoles' first home defeat to Florida since 1986.

Embattled quarterback Chris Rix, often a target of criticism throughout his career at Florida State, will start against the Mountaineers. Rix came off the bench in the second half against Florida and threw a touchdown pass.

West Virginia is led by Big East Player of the Year Rasheed Marshall, who is threat through the air and on the ground. Marshall completed 133-of-219 passes for 1,755 yards and 18 touchdowns and also rushed for 790 yards and four TDs.


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