Will Miami, Fla. State come down to a kick?

Seminoles hope to reverse three-point curse, look for first series win in 7 games


College Football

September 05, 2005|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

The point spread for tonight's Miami-Florida State game in Tallahassee seems appropriate. It favors the visiting ninth-ranked Hurricanes by a field goal, quite fitting given how many of the past meetings between these in-state rivals have come down to the foot of a Seminoles kicker.

While much of the pre-game chatter this summer has been focused on the inexperience at quarterback, there isn't much likelihood that either Miami sophomore Kyle Wright or Florida State's redshirt freshman duo of Drew Weatherford and Xavier Lee will decide the game at Doak Campbell Stadium.

Certainly for the No. 14 Seminoles, so many of these games have ended with wide rights and wide lefts by shaky place-kickers rather than spectacular throws by more experienced quarterbacks. Florida State kicker Gary Cismesia is aware of the history of the position he inherits.

Cismesia, a sophomore who took over for Xavier Beitia toward the end of last season, said he can understand how rattled his predecessor was after four years as a starter. One of Beitia's misses led to a 28-27 loss in 2002, and another came in a 16-14 defeat at the 2004 Orange Bowl. And Beitia was only the latest in a long line of kickers who have missed field-goal tries that would have tied or won games in the waning moments five times since 1991.

"Maybe they just got caught up in the hype," said Cismesia, a former soccer player who struggled in the preseason and was only named recently as the starting kicker. "I'm just trying to keep my head straight. It's just going to be another kick for me."

Coach Bobby Bowden, whose Seminoles have lost six straight in this rivalry, said the point spread is accurate.

"That's about right," he said last week. "It doesn't make a difference to me. ... Underdog is probably more realistic. Overall, the biggest thing is their defense. ... That's the starting place. Everything else is about equal."

Cismesia said he is hoping that it ends with the game riding on his foot. And that history doesn't repeat itself.

"If I have to go out there, that's my job and I have to do it," Cismesia recently told The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post. "I'm looking forward to it. I could switch it around, but then again I could be one who goes down with another miss."

Here's a look at what happened during the first week of the 2005 season:

Best game: Though those who witnessed the Kutztown-Clarion four-overtime battle might disagree, Colorado's 31-28 win over Colorado State in Boulder narrowly edges Clemson's 25-24 upset of 17th-ranked Texas A&M because of the intense in-state rivalry between the schools.

Biggest disappointment: Some thought Oklahoma was overrated as the seventh-ranked team in the country coming into the season, but did anyone outside the Texas Christian locker room really think the Horned Frogs would come into Norman and leave with a 17-10 win? As embarrassments go, this loss overshadows the 55-19 beating Bob Stoops took from Southern California in last year's Bowl Championship Series title game.

Best performance by a Heisman hopeful: There were some concerns that Florida quarterback Chris Leak was having trouble picking up the nuances of new coach Urban Meyer's spread offense. Guess not, the way Leak played in throwing for 320 yards and three touchdowns in a 32-14 win over Wyoming by the No. 10 Gators.

Best performance by a Heisman Trophy long shot: What started out as a showcase for Bowling Green's Omar Jacobs turned into a coming-out for Wisconsin tailback Brian Calhoun. The Colorado transfer and Milwaukee native gained 258 yards and a school-record-tying five touchdowns on 43 carries. Jacobs had four touchdown passes in the first half, five for the game, but his candidacy was hurt by a 56-42 loss.

Worst performance by a Heisman favorite: Adrian Peterson, who many believed was the best player in the country as a freshman last season at Oklahoma, gained 63 yards on 22 carries and spent part of the second half on the sideline with a sprained ankle.

Worst coaching decision: Arizona's Mike Stoops shared in his brother's misery. After the visiting Wildcats cut Utah's 27-10 deficit to 27-24, Stoops opted to punt on fourth-and-five from the Utes' 42 with 3:28 to go. With the punt and no defensive stop, Arizona lost its chance of ending Utah's 15-game winning streak.

Best coaching debut: Everyone talked about Notre Dame's tough schedule, but it got a bit easier with a 42-21 win at 23rd-ranked Pittsburgh. New coach Charlie Weis made junior quarterback Brady Quinn look like another Brady he helped make famous, and this week's game at No. 4 Michigan looks quite winnable given how sloppy the Wolverines looked against Northern Illinois.

Worst coaching debut: There are a bunch of worthy (or unworthy) candidates. Call it a tie between Pittsburgh's Dave Wannstedt (see above) and Washington's Tyrone Willingham, whose Huskies lost at home to Air Force.

Best escape by a BCS contender: No. 3 Tennessee edged Alabama-Birmingham, 17-10, in Knoxville. Louisville nearly stumbled yesterday, needing a late fumble to survive archrival Kentucky in Lexington, 31-24.

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