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FINALLY, FLORIDA STATE
When Florida State signed high school kicking whiz Scott Bentley last February, it was assumed that the Seminoles—who have twice blown chances for the national title because of failed field goal attempts in the waning moments of games against Miami—wouldn't be haunted by the term wide right as long as he was on campus. Why, Bentley was such a phenom that a certain sports magazine even put him on the cover of its college football preview issue. Yet now, on the brink of another Florida State-Miami battle (in a rivalry that Hurricane linebacker Ray Lewis calls "the game of the century every year") kicking is once again the top concern of Seminole coach Bobby Bowden.
In Florida State's 51-0 rout of Georgia Tech last Saturday, Bentley missed a 33-yard field goal (he has missed two of eight attempts this year) and his fifth extra point of the season (not counting another two that have been blocked). Bowden toyed with the idea of replacing Bentley with Dan Mowrey, the kicker who was—all together now—wide right at the end of last year's 19-16 loss to Miami. "I started to make a change," Bowden said. "Then I thought, No, I'm not going into the Miami game with a change."
Saturday's game in Tallahassee will not be close enough for Bentley to be a factor. The Hurricanes cannot shut down Seminole quarterback Charlie Ward and a fast-break offense that has allowed Florida State to blitz its five opponents by a combined score of 228-14. And with shutouts of three of those foes, the defense has been just as dominant.
Here's another reason that the Seminoles will not lose to Miami for the seventh time in their last eight meetings: The Hurricanes are suspect at quarterback. Midway through the third quarter of Saturday's 30-7 win over Division I-AA Georgia Southern, Miami was leading 16-0 and struggling so badly on offense that the Orange Bowl crowd loudly voiced its displeasure with quarterback Frank Costa. The boos changed to cheers when coach Dennis Erickson replaced Costa with sophomore Ryan Collins, who threw two TD passes in the next 11 minutes. Still, Erickson insists that Costa will start against the Seminoles.
But it won't matter who's calling signals for the Hurricanes—or who's kicking for the Seminoles—because Florida State will win going away.
Richard Hoffer filed this report from Palo Alto, Calif.:
One of the pleasures of Notre Dame football is hearing coach Lou Holtz explain just how bad his team is. Take last week, when the Irish took on Stanford, which had been allowing more than four touchdowns and 516 yards a game. "How we will find the points, I don't know," Holtz said.
It's ridiculous, of course. Not even Holtz's players pay him any attention. Early last week Holtz grew disgusted with the way quarterback Kevin McDougal was running the option and promised to scrap it. On Saturday, though, after the McDougal-led option had accounted for three touchdowns in a 48-20 victory over the Cardinal (the Irish found the points), it was clear that the Notre Dame players are right not to take Holtz seriously. "I don't believe a lot of things Coach Holtz says," McDougal said.