Wearing baggy blue jeans and a red golf shirt, Heisman Trophy hopeful Peter Warrick could only pace the Florida State sideline and cheer on his teammates.
Suspended indefinitely after his arrest on a grand theft charge, the All-American wide receiver went on national TV and apologized, then gave the Seminoles a pregame pep talk.
It worked, but it took awhile.
Chris Weinke connected with 11 different receivers for 332 yards and two touchdowns Saturday as No. 1 Florida State overcame a sloppy first half for a 31-21 victory over No. 19 Miami.
"They did what I wanted them to. They stepped up," Warrick said as he was hurried off the field by security guards. "They showed we're the No. 1 team in the nation."
"I don't want to talk about Peter at all," said Weinke, who scrambled his way to 23 completions in 34 attempts. "This football team showed up and played and won. They got the job done."
Florida State (6-0) has now beaten Miami (2-3) five years in a row, and in doing so the Seminoles won their 27th straight at Doak Campbell Stadium and 44th without a loss. Both streaks are the longest among major colleges.
"You were never sure how well we would play after all the things we went through," Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden said after gaining career win No. 298. "The only thing that blew my mind was he way they rolled up and down the field against us in the first half."
Miami scored all its points in a 21-21 first half, with Kenny Kelly throwing TD passes of 8 yards to Reggie Wayne and 80 and 14 yards to Santana Moss. The Hurricanes finished with 44yards, but were held to 166 in the second half by a defense that almost gave away the game in the opening 30 minutes.
"I thought our kids spilled their guts and played as hard as we've probably played this year," Miami coach Butch Davis said.
With the Seminoles ahead 24-21 after Sebastian Janikowski's 38-yard field goal midway through the third quarter, Weinke led the Seminoles on a game-clinching 97-yard drive. After Dugans' 54-yard gain to the Miami 30, FSU moved down to the 13, when Miami's Leonard Myers was called for pass interference in the end zone against Dugans.
On the next play, from the Miami 3, Minor powered into the end zone and Florida State kept its national title hopes alive as 80,976 fans broke into the Seminole War Chant.
Minor finished with 25 carries for 146 yards. Kelly was sensational, hitting 27 of 41 passes for 370 yards. Moss finished with nine catches for 180 yards.
Bowden gave Weinke credit for taking a leadership role usually reserved for Warrick, who coined this year's theme that appears on the front of the Seminoles practice T-shirts: "TEAM It's not about me."
"He looked serious when he was practicing," Bowden said. "He was stepping forward and making statements that I hadn't seen him making, such as `Let's do this!"'
The Seminoles opened a 7-0 lead on Weinke's hookup with Stringer, one of two replacements for Warrick, caught his 48-yard TD pass just 3:47 into the game. He beat Myers on a post pattern, caught the ball in stride at the 13 and scored untouched. When he returned to the bench, he was greeted by a towel-waving Warrick.
"I knew I had to step up," Stringer said. "With Pete out, I knew I was next in line."
Added Dugans: "When he caught that one, it got the butterflies out of all the receivers and gave all of us a lift."
Miami, the last team to beat Florida State at Doak Campbell (in 1991), wasted little time in pulling even.
Kelly threw an 8-yard scoring pass to Wayne 3:08 later, the football sailing over the head of cornerback Mario Edwards in the left corner of the end zone and into the Hurricane receiver's arms.
The Seminoles moved ahead 14-7, on Jeff Chaney's 3-yard TD run, and the Hurricanes responded on Kelly's 80-yard TD pass to Moss.
Florida State lost a scoring chance late in the first quarter when Dan Kendra fumbled at the Miami 10 and the Hurricanes Al Blades recovered.
Miami took a 21-14 lead after an 89-yard march, with Kelly hitting Moss on a 6-yard TD, with Edwards again the beaten defender in the end zone. This time it was the Seminoles turn to even the score, with Weinke finding tight end Ryan Sprague behind Miami's linebackers on an 18-yard scoring pass.
"You have to give Florida State credit," Kelly said. "We got off just exactly as we wanted to. We could have won this game."
Moments before kickoff, both teams had t be restrained from going at each other at midfield. One of the Miami players shouted something to a Florida State player, and both teams gathered near midfield, each forming a huge circle. All the players began jumping up and down in unison, jawing at each other, before coaches came over and broke things up.
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