FSU, Florida in hot S.C. water

Losses to son at Clemson, ex-Gators coach at S. Carolina put heat on Bowden, Meyer

Losses to son at Clemson, Gators legend at S. Carolina put heat on Bowden, Meyer

Analysis

November 14, 2005|By DON MARKUS | DON MARKUS,SUN REPORTER

The next couple of weeks will be interesting in the state of Florida after what happened Saturday in the state of South Carolina.

After what transpired with Florida State's 35-14 loss at Clemson and Florida's 30-22 defeat at South Carolina, the heat will be turned on the respective coaches of the Seminoles and Gators as they prepare for their annual end-of-season showdown.

Who's going to take more abuse in the chat rooms and on the talk radio shows, Bobby Bowden or Urban Meyer?

In his 30th season in Tallahassee, Bowden will be criticized in much the same way Joe Paterno was in recent years at Penn State, as a fading legend whose time has past. In the past two weeks, Bowden has been outcoached by a protege, Chuck Amato of North Carolina State, and a progeny, son Tommy with the Tigers.

In his first season in Gainesville, Meyer will be skewered, perhaps not as viciously as Ron Zook was in replacing Steve Spurrier, but certainly second-guessed for not winning as many games as most expected since coming from Utah and losing to Spurrier in their much-anticipated matchup.

Bowden will have more pressure on him going into The Swamp on Nov. 26, simply for the fact that a 7-3 record after a 5-0 start isn't acceptable to the growing faction of fans who think that the second-winningest coach in Division I-A behind the re-sainted Paterno should retire.

"Everybody's hurting right now," said Florida State offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden. "I'm sure everybody's wondering. We've got who we've got right now. We have to find some answers. I don't know how you make changes because I don't know who you change with."

The younger Bowden was talking about the players, but in fact he has taken the brunt of vitriol for the team's failings in recent years. The loss to Clemson was the 10th for the Seminoles to an unranked opponent since Jeff Bowden was named offensive coordinator in 2001.

Bobby Bowden has now lost to three unranked opponents for the first time since his first season in Tallahassee, and dropped back-to-back league games for the first time since Florida State joined the ACC in 1992. He might have to reassign his son or the already restless natives will be calling for the elder Bowden's head.

The pressure on Meyer, 7-3 in his first season in Gainesville, is a little different. Even Zook never had to deal with losing to Spurrier, as Meyer does now. The spread offense that he brought with him from Utah hasn't worked in the suddenly Big Ten-ish SEC.

You know Spurrier is enjoying being in the middle of this misery.

"It's more fun when your team is not a dominant team and you find a way to win the game," said Spurrier, who will now challenge Alabama's Mike Shula for SEC Coach of the Year. "It's neat the way we're winning. We're defying logic."

Here's a look at the rest of the weekend ...

Best game: -- Defensive purists might point to LSU's 16-13 overtime win that ruined Alabama's hopes of an undefeated season, but that game was as much the result of botched field-goal attempts as big plays. Auburn's 31-30 win over then-No. 9 Georgia was won on a 20-yard field goal with six seconds left, but it was set up on a 63-yard fourth-down pass.

Game of the weak: -- At least Tulane has some excuses for its 2-7 season that, because of Hurricane Katrina, has been played in nine different stadiums. But what's up with Rice? The Owls, who only had one game postponed because of Hurricane Wilma, finally won a game. Of course, it came at the expense of the Green Wave, 42-34, in Houston.

Best performance by a Heisman hopeful: -- Texas quarterback Vince Young is making a late-season assault on the favorite, USC tailback Reggie Bush. Young threw for 281 yards and a career-best four touchdowns in a 66-14 rout of Kansas, while Bush (17 carries for 82 yards) shared the ball with LenDale White (16 carries, 90 yards, three TDs) in a 35-10 rout of Cal.

BCS or bust: -- Fresno State could help its cause for the second at-large spot - the first going to Notre Dame as long as the Irish win out - if the Bulldogs even stay close to USC on Saturday at the Los Angeles Coliseum. If that doesn't happen, any number of traditional powers could wind up as the BCS wild card, with the favorites being Penn State or Ohio State.don.markus@baltsun.com

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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