December 29, 1998
By RICHARD ROSENBLATT
AP Football Writer
PHOENIX (AP) – As usual, Florida State is close to a national championship.
What’s unusual is that the Seminoles will be playing for the title so far from
Over the past six seasons, coach Bobby Bowden’s team has played in three
Orange and three Sugar bowls, coming away with one national title and a few
On Monday, No. 2 Florida State set up camp in Tempe, where on Jan. 4 the
Seminoles will play No. 1 Tennessee in the Fiesta Bowl with the national title
on the line.
“We’re happy to be here for a lot of reasons,” Bowden said upon his team’s
arrival at Sky Harbor International Airport. “The last five years or so, all
of our bowls have been in Florida or New Orleans, the Orange or Sugar. So we’re
excited to get away again. I don’t have any players (on this team) who have
ever played in this bowl.”
The last time Florida State was here, the Seminoles beat Nebraska 41-17 on
Jan. 1, 1990.
Marcus Outzen, the sophomore who replaced the injured Chris Weinke and is
gearing up for his third career start, recalled watching that game on TV.
“I grew up a Florida State fan and I remember we won that one pretty
good,” Outzen said Monday.
And now it’s Outzen who has a chance to give the Seminoles (11-1) a second
national title in just his third start. His second start wasn’t so easy,
either. It was against Florida, and he was a big reason Florida State won
“We all feel real confident, and real good about our chances,” Outzen
said. “I feel like I’m taking the transition well and plan on picking up where
I left off in the last game.”
Pretty confident for a guy who never expected to be tossed into the
starter’s role this season.
“I’ve never been one to get real nervous,” Outzen said. “I’ve never
really been scared or nervous, I take things as they go and make the most of
The Volunteers (12-0) are trying to make the most of their title chance,
too. They arrived on Saturday, and worked out under sunny conditions Monday –
temperatures were in the 70s and are expected to stay there all week.
“We came out earlier, and as long as we don’t get in the mental mindset
that we’ve been here too long, we’ll be OK,” Vols wide receiver Peerless Price
said before Monday’s workout at Scottsdale Community College. “There’s no need
for us to go out and be trying to knock each others heads off and be all
intense this Monday. We don’t play until next Monday.”
Bowden, meanwhile, has nearly perfected the bowl preparedness package. The
Seminoles have won 12 of their last 13 bowl games, and are 15-3-1 under Bowden.
Florida State was to begin workouts today at Mountain Pointe High School.
A hundred or so Florida State fans and Fiesta Bowl officials wearing gold
sports jackets greeted the Seminoles when they arrived Monday afternoon, about
30 minutes later than expected. As the players walked to the team buses, they
were greeted by bowl officials who stuck tiny Fiesta Bowl emblems on their
Bowden, his sports jacket full of the stick-ons, said he wants his players
to work hard and have some fun, too.
“I would hate to come out here and put ’em in jail – and I appreciate it if
y’all wouldn’t put them in jail,” Bowden, smiling, said. “Let ’em play.
They’re just kids. I want them to enjoy themselves – but I do want them to