Sept. 19, 2002
Florida State once again looks like the ACC’s team to beat. Duke is usually
the conference’s most beatable team.
A pair of teams recently on opposite ends of the league’s standings meet
when the fifth-ranked Seminoles play host to the Blue Devils on Saturday
Florida State (3-0, 2-0 ACC) failed to win the conference championship last
year for the first time since joining the league in 1992. The Seminoles look
like they are on the way back to the top this season.
The Seminoles overwhelmed the team that took their ACC crown last year,
beating Maryland 37-10 on Saturday. Florida State jumped to a 30-0 lead and
forced six turnovers.
“One thing I have never done is talk about paybacks or getting even, because
it always comes back and works against you,” Florida State coach Bobby
Bowden said. “I never talked to our team about that. But there’s no doubt
about it, we lost a little of our mystique last year and we’d like to get it
The Seminoles have won their first two conference games by a combined 77-29.
That margin seems likely to grow Saturday.
Florida State has won all 10 meetings with Duke and has not been held below
40 points in any of them. The Seminoles have scored at least 50 points in
each of the last five, including last season’s 55-13 victory.
After opening the season by beating East Carolina to snap a 23-game losing
streak, Duke (1-2, 0-0) has lost two straight. The Blue Devils felt they
outplayed Northwestern on Saturday, but lost 26-21 despite Alex Wade’s
career-high 134 yards rushing.
“We were just sloppy, but we’re playing better than we did last year,” Duke
coach Carl Franks said. “I guess we’ve improved to the point that it’s hard
to accept losing that game. To me, it’s a good thing. Our expectation level
is much higher than it has been in a long time.”
The Blue Devils rushed for 240 yards on 47 carries, an average of 5.1 yards
per carry. That kind of success seems unlikely against Florida State, which
limits teams to an ACC-best 83 rushing yards per game.
Meanwhile, the Seminoles counter with their own powerful rushing attack, led
by Greg Jones. His average of 130.67 rushing yards ranks second in the ACC
and ninth in the nation.
Jones had 106 yards and a touchdown in Saturday’s victory. He has rushed for
at least 100 yards in five straight games, the longest streak at Florida
State since Warrick Dunn’s school-record six-game streak in 1995.
The Seminoles average nearly 480 yards of offense, including 268.3 on the
ground. It is the first time since 1985 that Florida State averages more
yards rushing than passing.
Quarterback Chris Rix left Saturday’s victory with bruised elbow, but was
back at practice Monday and is expected to start against Duke.
Duke has lost 14 straight road games since a victory at Maryland on Oct. 30,