Nov. 3, 2000
By Eddie Pells Associted Press
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – As much as fathers and sons, the game Saturday between Clemson and Florida State is about two programs with similar records and vastly different outlooks about what they mean.
Bowden Bowl II pairs coach Bobby Bowden and No. 4 Florida State against his son, coach Tommy Bowden and No. 10 Clemson.
It’s a team with a pedigree versus another that would like to restore tradition of its own. It’s the Seminoles (8-1, 6-0), who have ruled the Atlantic Coast Conference for nearly a decade, against the Tigers (8-1, 6-1), who have reason to believe they might be that good someday.
“It’s important because you can’t go to a BCS bowl unless you win your conference championship or at least get ranked high,” said Bobby Bowden, who is looking for a third straight trip to the national title game. “When you get down to that, you’ve got two teams that are still playing for the championship. It becomes very important in that regard.”
Indeed, the ACC is essentially up for grabs when the teams meet at Doak Campbell Stadium, where Florida State is undefeated against conference opponents since joining the league in 1992.
But is Clemson ready for so much, so soon? It didn’t look like it last week, when the Tigers lost their first game of the season, thanks to an amazing last-second catch by Georgia Tech’s Kerry Watkins. And it surely doesn’t feel like it in the heart of Tommy Bowden, who has turned things around in his two seasons at Death Valley, but knows there’s a difference between his program and his father’s. “I don’t look at that at this point in time,” Tommy Bowden said when asked about the prospect of an ACC title. “I know that’s on line for us if we were to beat them. But even that wouldn’t put us on the level of what my father has done in 25 years there. We have a lot more things to accomplish than a championship – a lot of other things that need to be accomplished before that.” If nothing else, Saturday will give Clemson a great chance to measure its progress, although the Tigers will have to do it with a quarterback at less than 100 percent. Bothered with a nagging ankle injury, Woody Dantzler practiced this week, and Clemson’s Bowden gave indicators he would start. If Dantzler doesn’t last the entire game, Willie Simmons will play, appearing in a stadium that’s just a quick drive away from the neighborhood where he grew up in Quincy, Fla. Clemson also must get help for a defensive backfield that has given up 758 yards the last two weeks. Tommy Bowden recognizes the feelings created by an 8-0 start could be washed away if the Tigers don’t shore up their problems. Even though this is a different program, with a different coach, Clemson has been outscored 156-3 in its four previous visits to Tallahassee. “All we’re talking about is giving the best effort we can,” he said. “Florida State beat North Carolina State by 45, and we beat them by seven. They have the potential to embarrass you, and we all know it.”
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