Fla., FSU go for broke There's more at stake for intrastate rivals than No. 1 ranking; Memories of '66 raised; Gators, Seminoles put 10-0 records on line


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- One thing is certain. Today's "game of the century" won't turn out like the one 30 years ago.

That's when No. 1 Notre Dame and No. 2 Michigan State -- both unbeaten and untied -- played to determine the fate of mankind, or so it seemed.

The game ended deadlocked, 10-10, and spawned a new rallying cry: "Tie one for the Gipper."

Thankfully, the possibility for a repeat in today's game in Tallahassee, where No. 1 Florida (10-0) will meet No. 2 Florida State (10-0), has been legislated out of existence.

Because of the new tiebreaker rule, there will emerge from Doak Campbell Stadium a winner and a loser in a game of regional import as much as national.

"It doesn't matter if we were ranked the last two teams in the country," Florida State quarterback Thad Busby said. "It's already a big game."

But never this big.

This will mark the 31st time that No. 1 has played No. 2, but the first time in 40 meetings Florida and Florida State have met as unbeatens.

What's at stake?

Nothing much. Pride. Bragging rights. The national championship. For Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel, the Heisman Trophy.

The chance to show, or not to show, your face in your hometown for a year.

nTC "So often you play these teams and there's really no faces behind the helmets," Wuerffel said. "But you get a chance to play Florida State, and you know a lot of the guys.

"I think some of the most intense rivalries in my life are playing your dad in some type of game. You love him, respect him, but you want to beat him."

This is the kind of game they write songs about.

The stakes: For Florida State, it's simple: Victory vaults the Seminoles to No. 1 with a chance to win the national championship in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2.

The road is rougher for Florida. The Gators need the victory to remain No. 1, but face another considerable obstacle next Saturday when they play Alabama for the Southeastern Conference championship.

The quarterbacks: Florida's Wuerffel would appear to have a decided edge, except that injuries -- including center Jeff Mitchell -- have forced the Gators to play three redshirt freshmen on the line in recent weeks.

Wuerffel's experience and precision as a passer will be put to the test, although he has met most challenges. He has thrown 105 touchdown passes, 30 this season.

Florida State's Busby, conversely, has been a work in progress. The junior began the season so raggedly it appeared he might lose his job. But Busby -- 15 touchdowns, 12 interceptions -- has been solid since midseason.

The coaches: You would be hard pressed to find two better. In 21 seasons at Florida State, Bowden has lost 21 games.

Florida's Spurrier (71-13-1) is generally acknowledged as the game's best offensive coach. He is a hands-on operator, an extension of Wuerffel's right arm.

Had Bowden and Spurrier been the coaches in 1966, it might well have ended in a tie: 50-50.

No. 1 vs. No. 2

Results between the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the AP college football poll in the 1990s:

Date .. .. .. Result

11/16/91 . .. (2) Miami 17, (1) FSU 16

1/1/93 ... .. (2) Ala. 34, (1) Miami 13

11/13/93 . .. (2) ND 31, (1) FSU 24

1/1/94 ... .. (1) FSU 18, (2) Neb. 16

1/2/96 ... .. (1) Neb. 62, (2) Fla. 24

Pub Date: 11/30/96

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