Seven titles in the first seven years of conference membership would leave most coaches ecstatic. Not Bobby Bowden.
"I've never been more frustrated in my life," Bowden said after Mario Edwards rescued sloppy Florida State with a school-record four interceptions, sending the fifth-ranked Seminoles to a 24-7 victory over Wake Forest on Saturday.
Edwards' interceptions came on a day when the Seminoles had four turnovers, 14 penalties for 139 yards, were held to 3-and-outs six times and got sporadic production from first-time starting quarterback Marcus Outzen.
"They got after us and stayed after us," Bowden said of the Demon Deacons. "It was all we could do to put 24 points on the board."
The seminoles had edwards to thank for all of their points. His interceptions set up every Florida State score.
"We knew we needed this if we wanted to win the ACC championship," Edwards said. "I just wanted to step up and do my best to help the team, but I never figured on anything like this."
Travis Minor rushed for 102 yards and two touchdowns as the Seminoles (10-1, 7-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) wrapped up at least a tie for their seventh championship since joining the league in 1992. Even if Georgia Tech ties Florida State atop the final ACC standings, a Bowl Championship Series spot will go to the Seminoles, who defeated the Yellow Jackets.
The Demon Deacons (3-7, 2-6) were held to minus-30 yards rushing by the nation's top-rated defense and lost their fourth consecutive game. Wake Forest quarterback Brian Kuklick completed just 11-of-41 passes and had three intercepted.
"We've just got to play better offense iwe're going to stay in the game with a team like that, because you're just not going to really hold them below 24 points," Wake Forest coach Jim Caldwell said.
The Demon Deacons had surrendered 174 points in their last three games against Florida State. Even though Wake Forest did substantially better this time, the Demon Deacons were held to one touchdown for the third consecutive meeting.
"They have a way of just smothering you all over the field," Caldwell said.
Outzen, pressed into a starting role because of a season-ending neck injury suffered by Chris Weinke, misfired on eight of his first 13 attempts but wound up with 164 yards on 11-for-19 passing.
Outzen's performance was overshadowed by what represented some rare on-field news for Edwards, who was suspended from school last year after being charged in separate cases with petty theft and hitting a former girlfriend. Edwards rejoined the Seminoles this season as a junior, but he had just one career interception before Saturday.
"I'm really happy for him," Bowden said. "Ever since he came back, from the first day of practice in August, he really has been on top of his game. And he's benefiting from that right now. This is a result of hard work."
The Seminoles spent the first third of the game giving every indication that their focus wasn't the Demon Deacons but next week's showdown against No. 4 Florida. After five possessions on a cool, drizzly night, the Seminoles had one first down, two completed passes, one turnover and seven penalties for 71 yards.
But Edwards intercepted two passes in the second quarter, and the Seminoles converted them into a 1-yard scoring plunge by Outzen and a 32-yard field goal by Sebastian Janikowski, his ACC-record 24th field goal of the season.
A play that could have given Edwards a fifth interception wound up being Wake Forest's lone score. Edwards and teammate Derrick Gibson collided and fell down while rushing to intercept an underthrown pass. The ball landed in the hands of wide receiver Jammie Deese, who raced untouched for a 56-yard touchdown that made it 10-7 early in the third quarter.
But two more interceptions by Edwards set up a pair of scoring runs by Minor, pushing Florida State's lead to 17 with 12:19 left in the game.
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