NEW ORLEANS -- Florida State's players are obviously excited about the possibility of a second national championship in four years, but they are also motivated by a fear of failure.
The top-ranked Seminoles have won 11 straight bowl games, and they are unbeaten in their past 14 bowl games, both NCAA records. They haven't lost a bowl game since the 1980 season, when Oklahoma beat Florida State, 18-17, in the Orange Bowl.
"The streak, man, we don't want to be the ones to end it," said senior wide receiver Andre Cooper. "The players talk about that a lot more than the coaches do. I was part of the team that was the first to lose in the ACC, and I don't want to be on the team that ends the bowl streak."
Cooper referred to a 33-28 loss at Virginia in November 1995, Florida State's only loss in its five years in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
In those five seasons, Florida State is 54-5-1. All of the losses came on the road.
There's still a first left for coach Bobby Bowden to achieve -- he has never had a team go unbeaten.
Florida strong safety Lawrence Wright, winner of the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's best defensive back, respects Florida State tailback Warrick Dunn -- and himself.
"He's their Superman, but we plan on bringing some kryptonite to the game," said Wright, who was asked about a secret weapon. "Me. I'm just kidding."
Wright is a hero in his hometown of Miami, where he carried the Olympic torch last summer in recognition of the work he has done with local youths. A building construction major with a 3.2 grade-point average, he would like to build a recreation center there.
Pass the Pepto-Bismol
Florida State quarterback Thad Busby has taken it easy in practice since Nov. 23, when he suffered a knee injury against Maryland, but he was moving better in yesterday's workouts than backup Dan Kendra. Rather than sample some Cajun cuisine, Kendra and some teammates dined in a chain restaurant Saturday night, and were hurting yesterday.
"We ate at a Friday's right across from our hotel, and we must have got some bad beef," kicker Scott Bentley said. "I was lucky. I kicked before I got sick."
Pub Date: 12/30/96