Originally created 01/04/01

Seminoles, Sooners set for showdown



MIAMI -- Top-ranked Oklahoma has a chance to end all the confusion: Beat No. 3 Florida State in the Orange Bowl and become undisputed national champions.

If not, get ready for the great Who's No. 1 debate.

Is it Florida State? Or Miami (11-1), which defeated Florida State? Or Washington (11-1), which defeated Miami? Or even Oregon State (11-1), which routed Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl?

The winner of the Orange Bowl, the Bowl Championship Series' designated title game, automatically finishes No. 1 in the coaches' poll.

But Miami could be voted national champion in The Associated Press media poll, in which the sports writers and broadcasters vote independently of the BCS; and Washington and Oregon could make a case for No. 1, too.

Florida State coach Bobby Bowden doesn't want to think about the possibilities.

"All I hope is that we win the doggone ball game," Bowden said Tuesday. "I don't care what happens after that. I know this: We'll win the BCS if we beat Oklahoma. What happens on the other poll, fine."

Following Miami's 37-20 victory over Florida in the Sugar Bowl on Tuesday night, most of the Hurricanes flew home. Some might even be at the Orange Bowl to cheer on the Seminoles.

Linebacker Dan Morgan stated Miami's case.

"We're the best team in the nation," he said. "We proved that all year by beating Florida State, Virginia Tech and now Florida. If they don't give it to us, it would be a real shame. But it won't make us any less of a team."

Bowden thinks the Huskies and Beavers have a claim, too.

"I'm surprised Washington and Oregon State haven't been more vocal about this," Bowden said. "Washington did beat Miami."

In the final BCS standings, Oklahoma and Florida State finished 1-2, while Miami was third. In the AP poll and the coaches poll, it was Oklahoma, Miami and Florida State.

The BCS standings use the two polls, eight computer rankings, strength of schedule and number of losses to determine its 1 vs. 2 match. But the plan does not eliminate the possibility of split champions, which occurred three times in the 1990s.

Seminoles Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke has only unbeaten Oklahoma on his mind.

"We're focused and ready to play," the 28-year-old quarterback said. "No one has found a way to beat them this year. That is our goal."

The Seminoles (11-1) are playing for their third national title, the Sooners their seventh. The difference is Oklahoma is looking to win its first championship in 15 years, while Florida State won in '93 and '99 and is on a record 14-year run of Top 4 finishes in the AP poll.

"We've always told our players, 'You're the only team living in a dynasty,"' Bowden said. "Bama was in a dynasty, Notre Dame was in a dynasty, Miami was in a dynasty, so-and-so was in a dynasty. ... We hope we keep it alive."

Oklahoma is ready for another title of its own.

"Our players understand we already have six national championships," Sooners coach Bob Stoops said. "So this is not a school not used to winning."

Oklahoma (12-0) completed its perfect regular season with a 27-24 victory over Kansas State in the Big 12 championship on Dec. 2, while the Seminoles haven't played since beating Florida 30-7 on Nov. 18.

"It just gives us more time to put in a new wrinkle or two," Bowden said.

Weinke threw for 4,167 yards and 33 touchdowns, but he'll have to find a new go-to receiver to replace All-American Snoop Minnis, who is academically ineligible. Minnis caught 63 passes for 1,340 yards and 11 TDs.

"We'll just move somebody else there and play with the same plays," Bowden said. "This just opens the door for somebody else to be a hero."

The candidates include Atrews Bell, Anquan Boldin, Robert Morgan and Javon Walker. Travis Minor ran for 923 yards and five touchdowns behind a massive offensive line averaging 315 pounds.

As for Heisman runner-up Josh Heupel, he threw for 3,392 yards and 20 TDs, and ran for seven scores. The lefty also has a top-notch group of receivers, including Antwone Savage and Curtis Fagan. Quentin Griffin, 5-foot-6, 183 pounds, ran for 783 yards and 16 touchdowns.

"From what I've seen, they're a big-play offense," Florida State cornerback Tay Cody said. "Heupel is a great quarterback, a guy who has made great decisions. It's going to be a challenge."

The Seminoles averaged 42.4 points and 549 yards and outscored opponents by 32.1 points. The Sooners put up 39 points and 429.2 yards a game and outscored opponents by 23.2.

"You better be able to play defense in this one," Bowden said. "When you got a quarterback like we got and a quarterback like they got, a running back like we got and a running back like they got, receivers like we got and receivers like they got, you say, 'Hold it.' It's which defense can corral the other's offense better."

On defense, each team has an All-American - linebacker Rocky Calmus for the Sooners, defensive end Jamal Reynolds for the Seminoles. Florida State allowed 10.3 points a game, Oklahoma 15.8 points.

Experience could be a factor, too.

Florida State is playing in its third straight BCS title game; Oklahoma is in a national championship game for the first time since losing to Miami in the 1988 Orange Bowl.

"That won't have any effect," Sooners defensive back J.T. Thatcher said. "We've played in a lot of big games this season, and we've been in bowls a lot."

Oklahoma will play in a record 17th Orange Bowl, but its first at Pro Player Stadium. The Sooners are 11-5, including wins over the Seminoles in the 1980 and '81 games. Florida State is 3-2 in Orange Bowls.

College football's national champions

1999: Florida State

1998: Tennessee

1997: Michigan (AP)

Nebraska (Coaches)

1996: Florida

1995: Nebraska

1994: Nebraska

1993: Florida State

1992: Alabama

1991: Miami (AP)

Washington (Coaches)

1990: Colorado (AP)

Georgia Tech (UPI)

1989: Miami

1988: Notre Dame

1987: Miami

1986: Penn State

1985: Oklahoma

1984: Brigham Young

1983: Miami

1982: Penn State

1981: Clemson

1980: Georgia

1979: Alabama

1978: Alabama (AP)

Southern Cal (UPI)

1977: Notre Dame

1976: Pittsburgh

1975: Oklahoma

1974: USC (UPI)

Oklahoma (AP)

1973: Notre Dame (AP)

Alabama (UPI)

1972: Southern Cal

1971: Nebraska

1970: Nebraska (AP)

Texas (UPI)

Ohio State (NFF)

1969: Texas

1968: Ohio State

1967: Southern Cal

1966: Notre Dame (AP)

Michigan State (NFF)

1965: Mich. State (UPI)

Alabama (AP)

1964: Alabama (AP)

Arkansas: (FWAA)

Notre Dame (NFF)

1963: Texas

1962: Southern Cal

1961: Alabama (AP)

Ohio State (FWAA)

1960: Minnesota (AP)

Mississippi (FWAA)

1959: Syracuse

1958: LSU (AP)

Iowa (FWAA)

1957: Ohio State (UPI)

Auburn: (AP)

1956: Oklahoma

1955: Oklahoma

1954: UCLA (UPI)

Ohio State (AP)

1953: Maryland

1952: Michigan State

1951: Tennessee

1950: Oklahoma