Monday, October 11, 2004
Cavaliers pull rank on Seminoles
No.6 Virginia will be the better-ranked team when it faces a Florida State squad that struggled to defeat Syracuse.
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Aaron McFarling's blog
As Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden and his players continued to question their focus Saturday against Syracuse, there was little question that Virginia would get their full attention.
When the Cavaliers visit Doak Campbell Stadium for a 7:45 p.m. Saturday game that will be televised by ESPN, it will be with a No.6 ranking - their highest ranking since the 1990 UVa team was ranked No.1 for three weeks.
No other Virginia football team had been ranked higher than No.7.
The Cavaliers, ranked 10th by The Associated Press last week, leapfrogged the Seminoles after No.8 Florida State slipped past Syracuse 17-13 in a game that was not decided until an end-zone interception with five seconds remaining.
"Syracuse should have won the ballgame," Florida State coach Bobby Bowden told media after the game. "We were lousy. I was thinking one thing: Murphy's Law. Anything that could go wrong, went wrong, and that's our fault."
The Seminoles, who had been ranked eighth, moved up to seventh on a weekend when the losers included No.3 Georgia, No.5 Texas and No.7 California.
Virginia defeated Clemson 30-10 on Thursday night after dispatching visiting Syracuse 31-10 in the Cavaliers' previous game.
While the Seminoles' game with Syracuse was much closer, it was held at the Carrier Dome, where crowd noise presented communication problems for Seminoles quarterback Wyatt Sexton, making his second career start.
Sexton was intercepted once and Florida State fumbled twice on a night when the Seminoles (4-1, 2-1 ACC) outgained the Orange 427-265.
"You go to New York to play a football game and the kids don't think you've got a game," Bowden said. "You see many little evidences of it - when you have a pregame meal, when they go on the bus to go to the stadium - that say, 'We're not thinking; we're not ready to play football.'"
Bowden said the only bright spot was the play of tailback Leon Washington, who rushed for a career-high 164 yards, coming one week after a 153-yard day against North Carolina.
"Number three [Washington] was all we had," Bowden said. "We wouldn't have won without him."
Bowden said that he would have replaced Sexton with former starter Chris Rix if Rix had been able to go. Rix practiced Thursday and went through warmups with his right ankle heavily taped.
"Chris is not ready," Bowden said. "I think he will be better next week. He could play, [but] I'm afraid he's going to hurt than ankle again. You're looking at only Wyatt Sexton right now."
Washington said Sunday that Bowden and quarterbacks coach Bobby Bowden had blasted the Seminoles after a first half that found them trailing 10-3.
"I think the main thing was, we were too lackadaisical," said Washington in a Sunday teleconference. "Quite naturally, I think a lot of the guys watched Virginia play against Clemson and we were heavily favored against Syracuse, so we were probably looking toward the Virginia game."
The Seminoles are an early three-point favorite over Virginia (5-0, 2-0) in the Cavaliers' first road game since Sept.4.
"I'm surprised that we're [lower] than Virginia," Washington said. "Once again, we're not getting the votes. The way we performed Saturday night, it really didn't show what we're capable of. We feel that we're one of the best teams in the country, but they're undefeated and we're not."