Florida State Coach Bobby Bowden has a chance to fill in one of the few missing lines from a resume that has 302 victories, a national championship and 13 consecutive seasons with at least 10 victories when his top-ranked Seminoles (10-0) play third-ranked Florida (9-1) Saturday afternoon at The Swamp.
That line would say: perfect season.
Despite his many accomplishments, Bowden has never had an unbeaten season, and once more, Florida is blocking his path.
And if the Seminoles defeat the Gators, they're a Sugar Bowl away from winning a second national championship.
If the Gators win, they'll propel themselves back into championship consideration, something that seemed unlikely after a stunning overtime loss to Alabama six weeks ago.
Bottom line: It's a typical Florida-Florida State game. This is the 12th time the teams have met this decade, and both have been ranked in the top 10 every time. It's the seventh straight year the game has had national championship implications.
"It would be nice to do it," Bowden said when asked about an unbeaten season. "But it won't be a death blow if we don't make it. You'd think I'm due after 46 years."
His Seminoles are easy to like. They're coming off a 49-10 rout of Maryland in which their defense forced five turnovers and blocked two punts, and the offense got six touchdown passes from quarterback Chris Weinke. Wide receiver Peter Warrick showed the Terps why he might be the best player in college football by catching nine passes and scoring three touchdowns.
Meanwhile, the Gators have looked positively ordinary at times, including last week when they struggled to overcome winless South Carolina. Gators Coach Steve Spurrier has been at his abrasive, visor-tossing best in recent weeks, telling reporters: "We're not as mighty as people think."
Spurrier abruptly benched quarterback Doug Johnson against South Carolina and has hinted he'll rotate Johnson and Jesse Palmer against the Seminoles. Spurrier employed a similar tactic two years ago, when the Gators handed the Seminoles their first defeat.
Still, for all his bad-mouthing, Spurrier's Gators remain one of the nation's best teams. Offensively, they're ranked 13th in the nation, two spots higher than Florida State. And a defense that lost all of last season's stars hasn't allowed a touchdown in 10 quarters and hasn't given up more than 14 points since the loss to Alabama on Oct. 2.
While the quarterbacks have struggled at times, the Gators still have plenty of weapons. Tailback Earnest Graham rushed for 105 yards on 24 carries against South Carolina, and a defense led by tackle Gerard Warren and end Alex Brown has allowed just 71.6 rushing yards per game. Since the loss to Alabama, the Gators have blitzed more often, resulting in 17 sacks and 12 turnovers in the last five games.
The rivalry is so intense that the action occasionally starts early. A year ago, the Gators took exception to the Seminoles' pregame ritual--some would call it a taunt--of gathering at midfield and holding a boisterous pep rally. Last year, punches were thrown before the opening kickoff, and Spurrier has promised that his players will stay on the sideline this time no matter what the Seminoles do.
Bowden and Spurrier taped 30-second public-service spots pleading with fans to behave. But Bowden knows his words might not mean much.
"I feel we're going in there with as good of circumstances as you can go in," Bowden said. "Still, you have to go down there and do it. The odds, the statistics of playing in that stadium are not big, and yet the year we won the national championship  we did it. You wonder if those are signs. At least we are going in there knowing what to expect and what happened the last time we went in there."