Nov 17, 2001
By EDDIE PELLS
AP Sports Writer
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Rex Grossman threw two touchdown passes, Florida’s
defense made two key stops and the fourth-ranked Gators made Florida State look
just like the rest of their overmatched opponents with a 37-13 victory Saturday
The Gators (9-1) weren’t perfect, but they were good enough to validate the
fears of Bobby Bowden, who figured the 21st-ranked Seminoles would need a
miracle to win in this, a game in which they were an unheard-of 15-point
Grossman threw for 290 yards, and the Gators held Florida State on two
straight drives inside their 10 to beat the Seminoles (6-4) for the first time
The victory kept the Gators well in the national-title picture – although
that loss to Auburn last month could still prove their undoing – and may have
been convincing enough to knock Florida State out of The Associated Press for
the first time since early in the 1989 season.
That wasn’t the only bad news for the Seminoles. About the time their game
ended, Maryland wrapped up a 23-19 victory over North Carolina State to win the
Atlantic Coast Conference title – marking the first time the Seminoles haven’t
won it since joining the conference in 1992.
FSU’s loss – its worst since falling 52-20 to the Gators in the 1997 Sugar
Bowl with the national title on the line – was essentially sealed in the third
quarter when the Seminoles, trailing 20-3, managed just three points off two
turnovers that each resulted in trips inside Florida’s 10.
On the first, Bowden called a trick play on fourth-and-1, but nobody was
fooled when quarterback Chris Rix handed off to Nick Maddox, then ran a pass
pattern of his own. Maddox lobbed it back across the field to Rix, but he was
smothered for a 1-yard loss.
On the very next play, Grossman threw his only interception and FSU regained
possession at the Gators 11. But three plays produced 5 yards and the Seminoles
got a 23-yard field goal from Xavier Beitia.
The Gators answered with an 11-play, 85-yard touchdown drive in which they
made 20 yards on a fourth-and-3 from the Florida State 40, then got a 19-yard
end around from Reche Caldwell to set up Grossman’s 1-yard touchdown run.
Rix came back with his only touchdown drive of the night, but a few minutes
later, Grossman hit Jabar Gaffney for a 28-yard score, set up by Chance
Gwaltney shanked a 19-yard punt.
The only issue after that was whether Steve Spurrier would run it up, as
many Seminoles feared this week.
Spurrier surprisingly passed on his best chance to rub it in, opting for
Jeff Chandler’s 18-yard field goal with 2:32 remaining.
Florida’s defensive backs dropped no fewer than four of Rix’s passes that
hit them square in the hands, and the Gators settled for field goals twice in
the second quarter after receivers dropped catchable passes in the end zone.
Florida defensive end Alex Brown had a sack and joined 15 other seniors in
celebrating his first victory over the Seminoles in four long years.
Rix, a freshman, threw for 229 yards. He was improved over the six-turnover
debacle he suffered through against Miami, but it wasn’t nearly enough against
the nation’s fifth-ranked scoring defense.
Florida played most of the second half without leading rusher Earnest
Graham, who left on crutches with a twisted right knee. He’ll have two weeks to
heal before the Gators play No. 6 Tennessee in the rescheduled game that will
decide the SEC East title.