Heat gets Ward moving in spite of cold and fever

January 01, 1994|By Don Markus | Don Markus,Staff Writer

MIAMI -- A cold front passed through South Florida this week, at least through the hotel top-ranked Florida State has stayed at for tonight's Orange Bowl game against second-ranked Nebraska.

2 "I told them, I would kick the ball," he said.

Seminoles, beware

This marks the 10th time the top two teams have met in a bowl game, with the No. 2 team winning the past five. That certainly does not bode well for the Seminoles.

And this doesn't either: Since the Kickoff Classic was established in 1983, no team that won the late August game (or any other game prior to Sept. 1) has gone on win the national championship.

The team that started this jinx was Nebraska, which beat Penn State, 44-6, in the inaugural Kickoff Classic and wound up losing to the Hurricanes in the Orange Bowl that season.

"Don't tell me that," Bowden said yesterday. "Now I've got something else to worry about."

ORANGE BOWL

No. 1 Florida State (11-1) vs. No. 2 Nebraska (11-0)

Site: Miami

Time:8 tonight

TV: Channels 2, 4

Line: Florida State by 16 1/2

Series: Florida State leads, 5-2

Coaches: Tom Osborne is the winningest active Division I-A coach by percentage with a 206-45-3 record (.814) in 21 seasons at Nebraska and is 8-12-0 in bowls. Florida State's Bobby Bowden is 237-78-3 in 28 years of coaching and ranks third in bowl victories with 12.

Nebraska stats: The Cornhuskers' philosophy is run, run and run some more. They ranked third in the nation with 287.9 rushing yards per game. RB Calvin Jones gained 1,043 yards on 185 carries (5.6 avg.) with 12 touchdowns. QB Tommie Frazier added 704 rushing yards on 126 carries while completing 77 of 162 passes for 1,159 yards and 12 touchdowns. Wide back Abdul Muhammad led the Cornhuskers with 25 receptions for 383 yards (15.3 avg.) and three touchdowns.

Florida State stats: Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward completed 264 of 380 passes for 3,032 yards and 27 touchdowns. Ward was second in the ACC in total offense, averaging 306.4 yards per game and 7.5 yards per play. Kez McCorvey had 74 receptions for 966 yards (13.1 avg.) with six touchdowns. The Seminoles had two tailbacks rush for more than 500 yards. Sean Jackson led the team with 825 yards on 134 carries (6.2 avg.) and five touchdowns. Warrick Dunn added 511 yards on 68 carries (7.5 avg.) and four touchdowns.

Outlook: The Seminoles have the country's most dominant player in Ward, and he has plenty of help from Jackson and Dunn, as well as WRs McCorvey, Matt Frier, Tarrick Vanover and Kevin Knox. While the defense was susceptible to the run against Notre Dame -- and Nebraska was No. 3 in the country rushing this season -- Florida State has too much speed with LB Ken Alexander and DE Derrick Alexander, as well as injured LB Derrick Brooks. The Cornhuskers have more speed defensively than they had a year ago here, but All-American linebacker and Butkus Award winner Trev Alberts is not 100 percent after dislocating his elbow in the regular-season finale. Frazier is also more experienced going into this year's game, but could be overmatched against Florida State's defense. If Nebraska can control the football on the ground, it has a better shot at an upset. But if Ward plays well, the Seminoles will roll. Even if he doesn't, Florida State still should win.

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