JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- When Florida State and Virginia Tech meet in Tuesday's Gator Bowl, missing will be many of the faces that contributed to the Seminoles' 46-29 victory over the Hokies two years ago for the national title.
Chris Weinke is gone, as are Peter Warrick, Travis Minor and Snoop Minnis. Also missing are Jeff Chaney, Ron Dugans and Sebastian Janikowski.
The only starters in the game back for Florida State are safety Chris Hope and offensive tackle Brett Williams, who hopes to shake off a late-season knee injury and play.
"I'm still favoring it a little bit," said Williams, who suffered the injury Nov. 10 against North Carolina State and missed the season's final two games. "It feels pretty good. It's just a matter of trusting it more."
It was the 6-foot-6, 300-pound Williams who kept All American linebacker Corey Moore away from Weinke in the 2000 Sugar Bowl. He hopes to be able to do the same thing for freshman quarterback Chris Rix in Tuesday's game.
"I want to get in some action," Williams said. "If not, I'm not concerned because we've got guys behind me that can get the job done."
Florida State (7-4, 6-2 ACC) has other injury concerns. The team's leading tackler, senior middle linebacker Bradley Jennings, is not expected to play and outside linebacker Kendyll Pope was troubled in recent days with a neck burner. Cornerback Stanford Samuels is slowed with a sprained ankle and cornerback Bryant McFadden is out with a broken foot.
"You hate to see injuries at the end of the season like this," Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said. "It seems that the teams that get to the top are really the fortunate ones that keep people healthy all year. It's such a big key."
While the Seminoles went into the season with seven new starters on defense, Bowden remembers a lot of names on Virginia Tech's roster from their last meeting.
"They're a much more mature football team than we are," Bowden said. "I've seen too many kids that played in that national championship game two years ago, especially defensively. They've got a complex about them. They don't like nobody to push them around."
Florida State has a 19-10-1 record against the Hokies since the schools began playing each other back in 1955, but Bowden is 13-0 against Virginia Tech including three wins he picked up when coaching West Virginia.
Weinke threw two touchdown passes and Janikowski added a field goal in the final 12:59 in the 2000 game as Florida State scored 18 unanswered points in its victory over the Michael Vick-led Hokies to complete Bowden's only perfect season.
Virginia Tech (8-3, 4-3 Big East) last beat Florida State 13-10 in 1975, the year before Bowden arrived in Tallahassee.
Both schools practiced Sunday morning and Florida State closed its workout to the media and public. The players then attended the NFL game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Jacksonville Jaguars.
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