<
>

Konica Minolta Gator Bowl

West Virginia (9-3) vs. Florida State (6-6)

Jan. 1, 1 p.m., (CBS)

Three weeks ago, the Mountaineers stood at 7-3 with an uncertain bowl future. They finished by winning their final two games to earn the Big East's second-best bowl spot and make it a nice season.

The West Virginia offense has lacked its usual firepower lately, failing to score more than 24 points in any of its final five games. But it remains a dangerous attack, thanks to quarterback Jarrett Brown's strong arm and scrambling ability and running back Noel Devine's capability of turning any play into a touchdown.

The cure for whatever has slowed that offense may arrive in the form of Florida State's 98th-ranked defense. The Seminoles haven't really been able to stop anybody since October.

The biggest boon for West Virginia the past few weeks has been its defense getting fully healthy, especially difference-making linebacker Reed Williams and safety Sidney Glover. They helped put the clamps on Pitt and Rutgers and hold Cincinnati to its lowest-scoring output of the season.

Of course, the storyline of this game will be all about Bobby Bowden coaching his last game for Florida State against the school that gave him his first Division I head coaching job. Current West Virginia coach Bill Stewart has a little bit of Bowden's folksy wisdom and down-to-earth style about him. And this year, he's got a better team.