2. The Seminoles' thin secondary
Even though Florida State's cornerbacks are its weakest link, Bowden has left them in man-to-man coverage for most of the year. That's a risky proposition against any team, but a potentially fatal move against the Gators. LSU put its corners in bump-and-run against Florida wideouts Anthony, Ike Hilliard and Jacquez Green in a game on Oct. 12, and the Gators didn't stop scoring touchdowns until the following Tuesday. Final score: 56-13. "When I see somebody come up tight and press me, I take it as a challenge," says Anthony. "I also think he's in big trouble."
If Boulware and Wilson don't take Wuerffel to the ground on the pass rush, Florida State's five rotating corners (seniors Byron Capers and James Colzie are the starters) will be under lire. They may feel the heal regardless: In Florida State's 34-16 victory over Miami on Oct. 12, the Seminoles' defensive line kept intense pressure on Hurricanes quarterback Ryan Clement, yet Clement still shredded the Florida State secondary for 267 yards and two touchdowns.
3. The Dunn factor
Florida State's Warrick Dunn is a proven threat. Dunn, a 5'9", 185-pound tailback, runs, catches, occasionally throws and plays much bigger than he is. "He's the truth," says Florida senior safety Lawrence Wright. Three times this season Dunn has scored touchdowns from at least 65 yards out. The problem for the Seminoles is, he draws more attention than Carolyn Bessette Kennedy on a shopping spree. "About everybody we play loads all up on Warrick," says Bowden.
Dunn already owns a piece of history in this rivalry. In 1993 as an introverted 18-year-old freshman, he scored the decisive touchdown—a thrilling 79-yard catch-and-run from Charlie Ward—in Florida State's 33-21 victory at Florida Field. The mention of the play causes Spurrier to jump from his office chair as if he's been jabbed with a cattle prod. Nearly three years have gone by since that game, and yet he begins drawing the Dunn play with blue grease pencil on a white board. "We were coming back, and there was so much noise, I don't think they even had a play called," Spurrier says. "Charlie just kind of rolled out a little, threw it out there to Warrick, two of our guys knocked each other down, and there he goes." Spurrier makes a clicking sound, shakes his head and tosses the grease pencil back into the tray. "One of those plays," he says.
The Seminoles have put the ball in Dunn's hands an average of 19.1 times a game this year, more in key games (28 touches against Virginia, 24 against North Carolina, 22 against Miami) than in little ones. "To have a chance to beat Florida State, you have to keep Dunn from making the big play," says North Carolina's Brown. Teams have shadowed Dunn with linebackers (lots of luck) and strong safeties in hopes of limiting his impact. The Gators will do likewise, often with Wright. "Best way to use Warrick might be as a decoy," says Bowden. Don't believe it. Count on Dunn for a minimum of 20 carries and five pass receptions. Florida's defense has given up long runs in each of its last two games, missing tackles and overrunning plays. The Gators should be scared to death of Dunn.
4. Stoops' troops
Florida's new, attacking defense—which lines up eight men in the "box" near the line of scrimmage, blitzes frequently and employs man-to-man coverage on the outside—has been a roaring success. The Gators have limited opponents to 4.91 plays per drive (compared with 5.72 a year ago) and forced three-and-outs on 40% of opponents' possessions (up from 33.6% last year). The scheme was installed by first-year defensive coordinator Bob Stoops, who used it with great success at Kansas State, and it has done just what Spurrier hoped it would when he hired Stoops—prevented opponents from holding the ball on long, clock-eating drives that keep the Gators" offense off the field. "It's the perfect defense for Steve Spurrier," says Auburn coach Terry Bowden, whose team lost 51-10 to Florida on Oct. 19. "It shuts down the controlled passing game and keeps you from playing a slow offense to stay in the game."
Stoops' scheme, however, hasn't been tested over the course of an entire game by a team with Florida State's level of talent. Tennessee had the best offense and the best chance to roll up points of any team Florida has faced this season, but in their Sept. 21 matchup with the Gators, the Volunteers fell apart in the first quarter and trailed 35-0 before losing 35-29. "To beat Florida's defense, you need offensive players like Florida's," says Terry Bowden. "The true test for the Gators' defenders would be if they were playing themselves, or if Florida State's quarterback were to get hot."