December 28, 2000 - by
With Weinke, Florida State Was Bound To Return To Title Game

Dec. 28, 2000



By RICHARD ROSENBLATT
AP Football Writer

MIAMI – Chris Weinke plopped onto a couch in the parlor of a grand old
Virginia hotel last summer, talking about where he’d been and where he wanted
to go.
“Winning last year was the greatest feeling in the world, and that’s why
guys are staying hungry,” the Florida State quarterback was saying back then.
“We’ve had a taste of success. We know what it’s like. We’re greedy.”

On Thursday, the hungry, successful and greedy Weinke was exactly where he
wanted to be – practicing at St. Thomas University six days before No. 3
Florida State plays No. 1 Oklahoma for a national title in the Orange Bowl.
“The goal was always to get back to the title game,” Weinke was saying
now, 11 victories, one loss and a Heisman Trophy later. “And here we are.”
As usual.

For the third year in a row, and for the fourth time in the last five
seasons, coach Bobby Bowden has the Seminoles a win away from a championship,
at least in the coaches’ poll. The title could be shared if Miami beats Florida
in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2 and the Hurricanes are voted national champions in
The Associated Press media poll.

Voting preferences aside, the Seminoles are in position for a second
straight title primarily because of Weinke’s decision to return for his senior
year. Less than a week after capping a perfect season with four touchdown
passes in a 46-29 win over Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl, Weinke said he
wanted to do it again at the age of 28.
“I immediately thought, `We got a chance,”‘ Bowden said. “`We’re throwing
our hat back in the ring.'”

So despite the loss of four All-Americans, including wide receiver Peter
Warrick and kicker Sebastian Janikowski, Florida State was well-armed for a
14th straight season of finishing with 10 or more wins and a top-four finish in
the AP poll.

Weinke, 6-foot-5 and slimmed down to 229 pounds, didn’t disappoint. And
neither did Warrick’s replacement, Marvin Minnis, at least until last week when
the All-American was declared academically ineligible for the Orange Bowl.

Weinke passed for a school-record 4,167 yards, with 33 touchdowns and 11
interceptions, for an offense that averaged 549 yards and 42.4 points per game.
Minnis caught 63 passes for 1,340 yards and 11 TDs, and a defense led by
All-America end Jamal Reynolds was second in points allowed at 10.25 per game
and sixth in total defense at 277 yards per game.

Only the kicking game was shaky, with Brett Cimorelli, Matt Munyon and
Chance Gwaltney combining to hit on 14 of 24 field-goal attempts.

However, the season started as expected, with a 29-3 win over BYU. Weinke
wasn’t particularly sharp, but the defense forced four turnovers and held the
Cougars to minus-2 yards rushing.

Then came a close-call, 26-21 win at Georgia Tech. Weinke had his best game
to date with 443 yards and two TDs, but the 22-point underdog Yellow Jackets
were in Seminoles’ territory when their final drive ended.

Three games in the next 13 days resulted in three easy wins – 63-14 against
North Carolina, 31-0 against Louisville and 59-7 against Maryland, the game in
which Weinke sprained his left foot.

Entering the Oct. 7 game against Miami, Florida State had moved into the No.
1 ranking ahead of Nebraska, but an ailing Weinke was unable to pull out the
win despite passing for 496 yards and three TDs. Ken Dorsey’s 12-yard TD pass
to Jeremy Shockey with 46 seconds to play, plus Munyon’s wide-right, 49-yard
field goal attempt as time expired, gave Miami a 27-24 win.
“All we can do now is win the rest of our games and hope to stay alive,”
Weinke said afterward.

Returning to its Atlantic Coast Conference schedule, Florida State beat up
on Duke (63-14), Virginia (37-3) and North Carolina State (58-14). Then came
Bowden Bowl II against Clemson, which had just lost its first game of the year
the week before. Father showed no mercy on Son Tommy’s Tigers as Florida State
rolled up 771 yards in a 54-10 win on Nov. 4.

Two days later, Florida State moved ahead of Miami and into second place in
the Bowl Championship Series standings. The BCS standings, which incorporate
the AP media poll and USA Today/ESPN coaches’ poll, eight computer rankings,
schedule strength and number of wins, determine which two teams play in its
title game.

Miami regained second place a week later, while the Seminoles struggled in a
35-6 win over Wake Forest, but Florida State clinched second place and its spot
in the Orange Bowl by beating No. 4 Florida 30-7 on Nov. 18. Weinke fought off
flu-like symptoms and threw for 353 yards and three TDs against the Gators.

Florida State will be without its top pass catcher in Minnis, but the
Seminoles have overcome similar problems get to title games in ’98 and ’99.
Last season, Warrick was suspended for two games for his role in a
department store scam, in ’98 the Seminoles made it to the title game against
Tennessee by beating Florida without Weinke, who missed the game with a neck
injury.


“One man’s adversity leads to another man’s opportunity,” Bowden said.
“Somebody gets hurt and can’t play, somebody gets suspended and can’t play and
that’s a chance for somebody else.”
“We’ve got to move forward,” Weinke said.

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