November 21, 1998
By BRENT KALLESTAD
Associated Press Writer
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – It was a classic matchup, Florida’s State’s
top-ranked defense against archrival Florida’s “Fun & Gun” offense.
And it was No. 5 Florida State’s defense that had more fun Saturday,
intercepting Doug Johnson three times and holding the Gators to 64 yards and
two first downs in the second half in a 23-12 victory.
“They flat-out clobbered us,” Florida coach Steve Spurrier said. “Their
defense played our offense about as good as anyone has. We squandered our early
scoring chances and they came back and dominated us.”
Florida State (11-1) went to a three-man rush in many situations, in effect
leaving it with seven pass defenders.
“It was tough finding a way to throw with their coverage,” Spurrier said.
“They have seven DBs and we ran right into them.”
Florida, which came into the game averaging 487.7 yards, finished with only
204 yards – the second fewest yards since Spurrier became coach at his alma
mater in 1990. Florida had just 17 yards rushing in 20 tries and was 0-for-13
on third-down conversions.
“The defense has played well since that second game,” Florida State coach
Bobby Bowden said, referring to his club’s only loss, 24-7 at North Carolina
State. “They have played super.”
Florida State, with sophomore quarterback Marcus Outzen making only his
second collegiate start, scored the final 17 points.
“Not many quarterbacks play Florida the first time and come out
successful,” said Florida State tailback Travis Minor, who gained 127 yards –
his second straight 100-yard showing against the Gators. “Everybody had been
doubting him all week, everybody except for himself and us.”
Outzen lost two fumbles, one that resulted in a controversial safety, but
otherwise enjoyed a good showing in the biggest game of his career. He
completed 13 of 22 passes for 167 yards and did not throw an interception.
“I’m still in shock,” Outzen said. “I would not trade this for
Outzen took over for Chris Weinke, who had neck surgery after being injured
Nov. 7 against Virginia.
Florida State (11-1) would need two of the three unbeaten teams ahead of it
in the BCS standings – Tennessee, Kansas State and UCLA – to lose to get a
crack at the national championship game Jan. 4 at the Fiesta Bowl.
Two teams Florida State has defeated this season, Miami and Texas A&M, can
help the Seminoles. Miami plays UCLA and the Aggies meet undefeated Kansas
State in the Big 12 championship. Both games are Dec. 5.
Florida (9-2) is out of a BCS bowl, but will go somewhere.
Peter Warrick caught a 32-yard touchdown pass and threw for a 46-yard score
off a reverse in the second half to spark Florida State’s victory.
Outzen threw his first career touchdown pass – to Warrick – and Sebastian
Janikowski’s extra point gave Florida State its first lead, 13-12 less than
four minutes into the third quarter.
The Seminoles took a 20-12 lead when Warrick, running to his right on what
looked like a reverse, hit Ron Dugans with a 46-yard strike with 13:30 left in
On the previous play, a 48-yard touchdown run by Minor was called back when
Warrick was flagged for holding.
Janikowski, who had already kicked field goals from 36 and 42 yards, then
added the clincher from 41 yards with 4:31 left.
Outzen’s first career touchdown pass, a ball tipped by Florida’s Marquand
Manuel, was caught by Warrick, who then faked out Gators cornerback Bennie
Alexander to complete a 32-yard scoring play.
Florida, capitalizing on two Florida State turnovers and a dozen Seminoles
penalties, led 12-6 at halftime.
Florida’s only touchdown came less than six minutes into the game when
Travis McGriff raced behind defender Tay Cody to hook up with Johnson on a
McGriff caught four passes for 100 yards, all in the first half, and became
Florida’s single-season record holder with 1,357 yards – breaking a 29-year-old
mark of 1,329 set by Carlos Alvarez, now a Tallahassee attorney.