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  • FSU to battle West Virginia hard in Gator Bowl appearance

    Dec. 31, 2004
    SportsLine.com wire reports

    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Florida State's Chris Rix and West Virginia's Rasheed Marshall met at a children's hospital during a recent Gator Bowl function.

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    They talked about getting thrust into the spotlight long ago as freshmen, Rix's California roots and their mutual respect.

    They'd rather be at a more prestigious postseason game, frankly. But their teams, preseason favorites in their respective conferences, couldn't secure Bowl Championship Series berths.

    So the two athletic quarterbacks hope to ease the hurt by ending recent postseason futility in the Gator Bowl on Saturday.

    "When you first hear what bowl you're going to, and it's not a BCS game, sure, guys are letting down," Rix said. "But after having a week of practice, our guys have a perspective: 'Hey, if we're going to play this game, we're going to give it our all and make sure we win."'

    That would avoid an unprecedented third straight bowl loss for the 17th-ranked Seminoles (8-3), who were second to Virginia Tech in the Atlantic Coast Conference and haven't finished in the Top 10 since the 2000 season.

    Florida State's Bobby Bowden will face his former school for the first time since the 1982 Gator Bowl. He can earn his 19th bowl win, which would bring him within one of the NCAA record held by Penn State's Joe Paterno.

    "Everybody would love to go out of the year with a win and go into the next year with momentum. It's something your kids can build off of," Bowden said.

    "But it's not a disaster. It's not like, 'Oh man, everything's lost.' We've lost bowl games before and our best recruiting year followed. Then we've had years when we won a bowl game and didn't recruit all that well."

    Three years ago, Rix led the Seminoles to a Gator Bowl win over Virginia Tech as a freshman, throwing for 326 yards and two scores while running for another TD.

    Rix was Bowden's first four-year starter at quarterback, but he's thrown just two touchdowns this season and will be making only his fifth start, getting the nod ahead of sophomore Wyatt Sexton.

    Rix's "career was kind of up and down and he gave it everything he had," Bowden said. "You could describe it 'feast or famine."'

    Marshall was the Big East's offensive player of the year after throwing for 1,755 yards and 18 touchdowns while rushing for 790 yards and four scores.


    The Mountaineers were expected to be the runaway winner in a revamped Big East, which lost Miami and Virginia Tech to the ACC.

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    West Virginia (8-3) started the season at No. 10 and rose to as high as sixth before falling out of the rankings with consecutive losses to Boston College and Pittsburgh.

    It cost the Mountaineers a trip to the Fiesta Bowl, and they finished in a four-way tie for the conference title. Pittsburgh got the Big East's BCS nod against Utah.

    West Virginia is making its second straight trip to the Gator Bowl. Last year, it lost 41-7 to Maryland as Marshall threw for just 87 yards and ran for 35.

    "I really don't want that same feeling," he said.

    West Virginia has lost 10 of its last 11 bowls games, including four straight in the Gator.

    Marshall and West Virginia's platoon of running backs will try to penetrate the nation's top rushing defense. Florida State allows only 69 yards on the ground per game, while the Mountaineers average 254 yards, sixth-best in Division I-A.

    If West Virginia's running game stalls, Marshall will likely look to Chris Henry, who set a school record with 12 TD catches this season. He missed 1 games due to suspensions, including the Pittsburgh game.

    If the Mountaineers focus too much on Rix, Florida State's Leon Washington could have a big running day. The Jacksonville native rushed for 793 yards this season, including a career-high 164 yards and two TDs against Syracuse.

    "It's the most athletic team we may have played in the last couple of years, and that includes Miami," said West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez, whose team is a heavy underdog. "I'm interested in how we can compete against Florida State."

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  • txramsfan
    Big East still worthy of BCS Bid?
    by txramsfan
    http://www.sportsline.com/collegefootball/story/7558078



    The real dilution of the Bowl Championship Series is not an outsider like Miami (Ohio) (13-1 last season) playing in a major bowl game. Nor is it a Fresno State or Boise State infiltrating a BCS bowl.

    Big East
    Predicted Finish
    1. West Virginia
    2. Boston College
    3. Connecticut
    4. Syracuse
    5. Pittsburgh
    6. Rutgers
    7. Temple
    Off. Player of Year:
    Dan Orlovsky, UConn
    Def. Player of Year:
    Mathias Kiwanuka, BC
    Coach of the Year:
    Rich Rodriguez, W. Va.
    There is, at least, a curiosity factor with the so-called coalition schools having easier access to the BCS beginning in 2006. Whatever teams qualify in the future, they will be, well, qualified. It will take an undefeated or one-loss season to get into the exclusive club.

    An Ohio State-Miami (Ohio) Fiesta Bowl would have been a delight last season. If not that, then an all-purple TCU vs. Kansas State major bowl game.

    Those matchups would not be the death of postseason football as we know it. More close to that frightening prospect is the BCS keeping the Big East in the loop. The Crippled Conference limps into this season with the most fortunate grandfather clause in sports.

    The Big East has lost Miami (Fla.) and Virginia Tech. Boston College departs for the ACC after 2004. Cincinnati, Louisville and South Florida enter next season. Yet, the league kept is automatic BCS berth.

    The real fly in the Bengay for bowl executives is, in any given year, an 8-3 Cincinnati could be playing in the Sugar Bowl. South Florida could find its way to the Orange Bowl. Even a 10-1 West Virginia, this year's favorite, doesn't exactly promise a television ratings bonanza.

    The point is the reconfigured Big East probably has the least desirable potential cast of champions in the BCS. Syracuse? In basketball, yes. In football, weeelll ...

    Boston College isn't even close to being the top draw in its own city. Rutgers? Uh, no. The conference's best story this season is Connecticut, which joined the league a year early after the ACC raid. With a break here and there, the Huskies could find themselves winning the league and playing in a BCS bowl in their first season in the Big East.

    But UConn went 9-3 last season as an independent and didn't get a postseason sniff.

    Given the dearth of desirable bowl programs, you wonder how the conference got to keep its BCS bid. Maybe commissioner Mike Tranghese's peers simply had pity on him and his league after all it has gone through in the past year.

    The clock is running. Big East champions will have to average a final No. 12 ranking in the BCS ratings over a four-year period or the conference's BCS status will be reviewed....
    -08-19-2004, 08:13 AM
  • DJRamFan
    Florida State overcomes mistakes to down West Virginia
    by DJRamFan
    Jan. 1, 2005
    SportsLine.com wire reports
    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Florida State overcame mistake after mistake to avoid an unprecedented third straight bowl loss.

    Leon Washington ran for 195 yards and Chris Rix crafted two long second-half touchdown drives, leading No. 17 Florida State to a 30-18 victory over West Virginia in the Gator Bowl on Saturday.

    Coach Bobby Bowden, facing his former school for the first time since the 1982 Gator Bowl, moved within one bowl win of Joe Paterno's NCAA record of 19 at Penn State. The Seminoles finished 9-3.

    Rix played poorly for much in his final game of an up-and-down career. Bowden's first four-year starter at quarterback fumbled three times and threw two interceptions, one of which led to a touchdown.

    But Bowden stuck with Rix and he eventually gave the Seminoles a spark.

    Rix completed five straight passes during a 90-yard drive, capped by his 14-yard TD pass to Craphonso Thorpe late in the third quarter. Thorpe leaped for the ball over Dee McCann in the right corner of the end zone for a 23-15 lead. It was only Rix's third TD pass of the season.

    Quarterback Rasheed Marshall and West Virginia's platoon of running backs shredded the nation's top run defense for 238 yards. Kay-Jay Harris carried 25 times for 134 yards and scored twice.

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    But the Mountaineers (8-4) failed to find the end zone three times after advancing inside the 20-yard line.

    West Virginia has lost 11 of its last 12 bowls games and is 0-5 in the Gator.

    West Virginia, the only unranked team playing in a New Year's Day bowl, continued special teams mistakes that were costly in losses to Boston College and Pittsburgh to end the regular season.

    In the first half, two kickers missed extra point, Brad Cooper booted a kickoff out of bounds, and the Mountaineers later faked a 27-yard field goal attempt, but couldn't convert the first-down run.

    Backup Andy Good practiced his kicks feverishly before the start of the third quarter, and it paid off. He made field goals of 44 and 34 yards to cut the deficit to 23-18 early in the fourth period.

    Rix then led an 80-yard scoring drive, capped by James Coleman's 1-yard run. Rix finished 16-of-31 for 157 yards.

    The game featured the preseason favorites of the Big East and Atlantic Coast Conference who couldn't secure BCS berths.

    The Seminoles needed only six plays to score a season-high 10 points in the first quarter.

    Washington went 69 yards down the right sideline on the game's second play for the longest TD run in Gator Bowl history. He had 135 yards by halftime and had only 12 carries for the game, or else he might have challenged the Gator Bowl record of 216 yards by Syracuse's Floyd Little against Tennessee...
    -01-01-2005, 03:55 PM
  • DJRamFan
    No. 19 Pittsburgh likely headed to Fiesta after rout in finale
    by DJRamFan
    Dec. 4, 2004
    SportsLine.com wire reports
    TAMPA, Fla. -- Tyler Palko threw for a career-high 411 yards and five touchdowns in three quarters Saturday, helping No. 19 Pittsburgh rout South Florida 43-14 and virtually assure the Panthers the Big East spot in the Bowl Championship Series.

    Greg Lee scored on receptions of 18, 6 and 7 yards for Pitt (8-3), while Malcolm Postell returned one of his two interceptions 15 yards for a TD that gave his team a 13-0 lead less than five minutes into the game.

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    Palko completed 19 of 28 passes and finished his afternoon by throwing for two scores in the last 1:27 of the third quarter.

    Marcus Furman's 11-yard reception finished an eight-play, 93-yard drive, and Palko and 270-pound tight end Erik Gill teamed on an 80-yard TD play on the final play of the period.

    The victory was the sixth in seven games for Pitt, which hardly resembled a BCS team in stumbling to 2-2 start that included an overtime victory over Division I-AA Furman and a 12-point loss at Connecticut.

    The strong finish, however, gave the Panthers a share of the Big East title with Syracuse, Boston College and West Virginia and sets up a likely date against unbeaten Utah (11-0) in the Fiesta Bowl.

    The Panthers also avenged an embarrassing loss to South Florida (4-7), which won the only other meeting between the schools 35-26 in just their second game as a Division I-A program three years ago.

    Some Pitt players said that game provided extra motivation this time.

    South Florida, which finished its final season as a member of Conference USA with a three-game losing streak, will move to the Big East next year and found out how difficult that transition could be.

    Although the Bulls had plenty of success moving the ball, Pat Julmiste was intercepted twice and Pitt also forced two fumbles to stop scoring threats. The Panthers also stopped another march inside their 20 on downs.

    Julmiste scored South Florida's first touchdown on a trick play, catching a 16-yard TD pass from Andre Hall after the 1,300-yard rusher took a pitchout and faked a handoff to receiver S.J. Green on an end-around.

    Clenton Crossley also scored on a 1-yard run for the Bulls.

    Lee finished with eight receptions for 153 yards, giving him 61 catches for 1,204 yards and nine touchdowns this season. The 300-yard performance by Palko was the sophomore's fifth of the year.

    The last time Pitt won at least eight games three consecutive seasons was 1981-83. The Panthers are headed to a bowl for the fifth straight year, but haven't played on New Year's Day or later since concluding the 1983 season in the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State.

    AP NEWS
    The Associated Press News Service

    Copyright 2004, The...
    -12-04-2004, 02:59 PM
  • DJRamFan
    Boise State could replace Utah in Liberty Bowl
    by DJRamFan
    Nov. 21, 2004
    SportsLine.com wire reports

    BOISE, Idaho -- Boise State is in line to take Utah's spot in the Liberty Bowl, now that the Utes have all but locked up a spot in the Bowl Championship Series.

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    The Liberty Bowl has a contract with the Mountain West Conference that requires the league's champ to play the winner of Conference USA in Memphis, Tenn., on New Year's Eve.

    Officials with the Liberty Bowl have started discussions with the Western Athletic Conference and Boise State to have the Broncos (10-0, 7-0 WAC) fill the vacancy left by MWC champ Utah.

    The matchup Liberty Bowl officials are hoping for is No. 10 Boise State taking on No. 7 Louisville (8-1). The Cardinals' only loss was against Miami.

    Broncos-Cardinals would match the two highest scoring teams in the country and it might be the only game with two teams in the top 10 of the BCS standings, outside of the national championship game in the Orange Bowl.

    "If it happens, we think that we would have the most compelling, exciting bowl game outside of the national championship game. There is no doubt about that," Liberty Bowl associate executive director Harold Graeter said before Boise State's 55-14 win over Louisiana Tech on Saturday.

    "Both of these teams play an entertaining style of football and that's what we're looking for."

    Contractually, the Liberty Bowl could have forced Utah to play in Memphis. But Liberty Bowl executive director Steve Ehrhart, who was in Salt Lake City for Utah's 52-21 victory over BYU on Saturday, said he will continue to work with MWC commissioner Craig Thompson on a deal to free the Utes.

    "We understand the landscape and wish Utah well," Ehrhart said

    By beating Louisiana Tech, the Broncos extended the nation's longest win streak to 21 and tied BYU for the most consecutive conference wins at 25.

    They also clinched at least a share of their third consecutive WAC title.

    The Broncos still need to finish out their regular season Saturday at Nevada. Louisville has two games remaining, versus Cincinnati Saturday and at Tulane on Dec. 4. A win next week will wrap up the Conference USA title for Louisville and a spot in the Liberty Bowl.

    Then, there's still the matter of Boise State sneaking into the BCS.

    With losses Saturday by Michigan and Florida State, the Broncos -- No. 9 in last week's BCS standings -- still have the slimmest of hopes of joining Utah in the big-money games. They would need loses by California and Texas to even have a shot.

    Still, that was enough for Fiesta Bowl representative Steve Horrell to spend Saturday in Boise.

    "That football can bounce some funny ways sometimes," Horrell said. "These...
    -11-21-2004, 06:01 PM
  • DJRamFan
    West Virginia closing in on BCS spot with Big East title on line
    by DJRamFan
    Nov. 10, 2004
    SportsLine.com wire reports

    West Virginia could be the first team to secure a spot in the Bowl Championship Series.

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    Boston College has other ideas, but the Mountaineers will clinch at least a tie for the Big East title with a win over the Eagles on Saturday. If West Virginia winds up tied for first place, it would get the BCS bowl bid because of a better overall record.

    In its transition year, the Big East has drawn criticism from those who say it doesn't deserve an automatic BCS berth. The league said goodbye to Miami and Virginia Tech before this season, leaving it with just seven teams and no heavyweights.

    The Mountaineers entered the season as the defending conference co-champions, overwhelming favorites to win it again and with hopes of running the table and playing for a national title.

    That last part was dashed when the No. 13 Mountaineers (8-1, 4-0) lost last month at Virginia Tech, now a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The result hurt the Big East's reputation -- even a supposedly middle-of-the-road ACC team could beat the best of the Big East.

    Since then, West Virginia has won four consecutive games against league foes, getting little attention in the process.

    "We haven't played great football all year, but we've played well enough," West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez said. "We have most of our goals still out there and, believe it or not, we can get one of them accomplished this week. A major one."

    No. 21 Boston College (6-2, 2-1) can keep its hopes for a Big East title and BCS bid alive with a victory in a place where wins have been rare for the Eagles. Since Big East football was born in 1991, Boston College has not won in Morgantown, W.Va.

    "I think they've been better football teams for the most part," Eagles coach Tom O'Brien said. "There are some schools that seem to have a whammy over another."

    BC joins Miami and Virginia Tech in the ACC next season, while the Big East welcomes Louisville, South Florida and Cincinnati.

    The last thing the beleaguered Big East needs heading into next season is its defending champion playing in the ACC.

    AP NEWS
    The Associated Press News Service

    Copyright 2004, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved
    -11-11-2004, 11:12 AM
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