Florida State, now No. 2, remains No. 1 force in ACC Unbeaten Seminoles look to extend league run tonight at No. 24 Virginia

November 02, 1995|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- George Welsh didn't see how it could make a difference. Bobby Bowden disagreed, but not very strongly.

The subject was Florida State's drop from No. 1 to No. 2 in this week's rankings, and whether that would add to the motivation for Bowden's Seminoles tonight (8, ESPN), when they look to extend their mastery of the Atlantic Coast Conference against Welsh's 24th-ranked Virginia team.

"I hope the kids would respond," said Bowden, who doesn't have to worry about the rankings. "If we win out, we'll be No. 1. Not only do I think we should be No. 1 if that happens, we would be."

Florida State (7-0, 5-0) has outscored its opposition 393-123, but it has yet to face a ranked opponent. After Virginia (6-3, 5-1), the Seminoles finish their ACC schedule against North Carolina and Maryland, then go to Florida on Nov. 25. The winner probably will meet top-ranked Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl, in what would be the national championship game, protests from Ohio State notwithstanding.

The Seminoles are seeking their 30th straight ACC win since they joined in 1992, and the only longer major-college conference winning streak was by Oklahoma, when it won 44 straight Big Eight Conference games from 1952 to '59.

The gap between Florida State and the rest of the ACC is growing. When the Seminoles won the national title two years ago, they set conference records by averaging 548 yards and 43.2 points. Now, they're averaging 599.6 yards and 56.1 points, both tops in Division I-A.

"It will take its place as one of the best offenses in the history of college football," Welsh said of the Seminoles.

Danny Kanell is the premier quarterback and Warrick Dunn the leading back in the ACC, but not everything is in the Seminoles' favor. They haven't been out of Tallahassee since Sept. 9, and Bowden is worried about the weather.

Virginia lost by a point on the last play at both No. 7 Michigan and No. 13 Texas, and had a letdown in a 22-17 loss at North Carolina. Barring the biggest upset of the season, however, the Cavaliers will come to Maryland next week with three losses in their past four games and in need of one more win to meet the bowl requirement of six Division I-A wins.

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