September 21, 2000 - by
Cardinals Take 2-0 Start To No. 2 Florida State

Sept. 21, 2000


By Brent Kallestad

Associated Press


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Louisville coach John Smith is looking forward
to
the challenge of playing against Florida State.


Huh? Many teams would probably be worried about playing the defending
national champions, especially so early in the season. Even so, the
Cardinals
are excited, no matter how difficult a task awaits.


“Hey, we get to line up against a national championship football team,”
Smith said from Louisville. “This is probably the best football team I’ve
ever
coached against or tried to prepare for.”


The Cardinals are 2-0, including a 40-34 overtime victory over
intrastate
rival Kentucky, and Louisville quarterback Dave Ragone is third in the
nation
in passing efficiency.


No. 2 Florida State (3-0, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) has won 23
straight
regular-season games, and its 14-game winning streak overall is the nation’s
longest.


“You would’ve probably preferred to have this game at least a couple
years
down the road,” Smith said of Saturday’s matchup. “But for us to have an
opportunity to play a team of this caliber and this recognition is good for
our
program regardless of what time it comes.”


The Seminoles are particularly hard to beat on their own field where
they
have an unbeaten streak of 47 games, including 30 straight victories. They
went
55-1-1 at Doak Campbell Stadium in the 1990s.


Louisville, which agreed to the game when Auburn reneged on a two-year
deal
with Florida State, will play host to the Seminoles at its new field in
2002.


Florida State has won 11 of the last 12 games between the schools,
including
a 40-15 decision in their last meeting at Louisville nine years ago with
Brad
Johnson at quarterback.


Saturday’s game features two offenses that love passing.


“In modern football, you’d better be able to throw the ball,” Florida
State coach Bobby Bowden said.


Ragone, who took over for the graduated Chris Redman, has completed
68.6
percent of his passes for 433 yards and seven touchdowns. The sophomore
southpaw has thrown just one interception.


Throwing to a cast of relatively unknown new receivers, Florida State’s
Chris Weinke has completed 62.7 percent of his passes while averaging 341
yards. He has eight touchdown passes and has not been intercepted.


“They’ve gotten everybody involved,” North Carolina coach Carl Torbush
said after last week’s 63-14 loss to the Seminoles. “They’ve got a chance to
be a really great football team.”


Florida State ranks second in the nation in passing offense, and senior
receiver Snoop Minnis is among the leaders with 20 catches for 339 yards and
a
pair of touchdowns.


Ragone, however, will face his most difficult test from a Florida State
pass
rush led by senior defensive end Jamal Reynolds, who already has six sacks.


North Carolina’s elusive quarterback Ron Curry was under a heavy pass
rush
throughout the game and was sacked four times and threw one interception.


“Defensively they are just all over the field,” Smith said. “We don’t
see
guys that run like that.”

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