Chris Rix and Brock Berlin are so intent on making the most of their senior seasons as high-profile quarterbacks for major programs that it took a hurricane to knock them off course.

Hurricane Frances postponed Monday night's epic Florida State-Miami game in the Orange Bowl to Friday.

In a way, Frances provides an appropriate backdrop for the whirlwind careers of Rix and Berlin, two of the most highly touted and picked-over quarterbacks from the sterling 2000 high school crop.

Rix starts his fourth year as starting quarterback for Bobby Bowden at Florida State, a miracle itself given some of the passes he has thrown and the fits he has caused.

"Coaching him has been a little different," Bowden said this week. "Not from bad standpoint, unhealthy standpoint, but from maybe a more different standpoint of communication."

Rix is from Southern California; Bowden was raised in Alabama. That translates roughly to four years of dude versus dadgummit.

Rix's crimes against humanity include going home in the summer, throwing into double coverage, trying to do too much with his extraordinary pass-run gifts and, lastly, never beating Miami.

Berlin starts his second year as Miami quarterback after a strange career that began at Florida with Steve Spurrier.

Berlin transferred to Miami with the idea of picking up in the national-title hunt where Ken Dorsey left off. Instead, Berlin had the audacity last season to throw more interceptions than touchdowns, 17 versus 12, which caused Miami to lose two games.

Miami and Florida State have combined to win seven national titles in the last 21 years, and the problem is Berlin and Rix have not added any trophies to the stash.

Both are seniors, fellow Christians and friends, first hooking up at a high school quarterback camp in California.

Rix and Berlin have known the joys of quarterback life and what it means to hear nasty things said about them on talk radio.

Both enter this season with a chance to erase doubts and secure their legacies while leading teams with national championship horsepower.

"They both have got a lot to prove," Bowden said. "Both are in a position now to do it. Berlin's got year under his belt, our guy's got three years under his belt. There's no doubt in my mind, your mind or their mind, if they're going to do it, it better be this year."

Rix and Berlin seem to sense the urgency.

Rix stayed in Tallahassee all summer to work out with his receivers and bond with his teammates.

"I admit when I first got to Florida State, it wasn't my No. 1 priority," Rix said.

Rix actually posted quality numbers last year -- 3,107 yards and 23 touchdowns -- but continued to confound Florida State coaches and fans with his decision-making.

"We've just taken the road that we ain't going to hold nothing back," Bowden said. "Whatever we're going to do we're going to try and do it because we think he's ready for it."

Miami Coach Larry Coker feels similarly about Berlin, who spent hours in the offseason studying tape of last year's performances.

"Film is the best way to learn," Berlin said.

The plan was to not make Berlin the focal part of the offense last year, instead relying on superstar tailback Frank Gore. But that changed when Gore tore knee ligaments in the Hurricanes' fifth game against West Virginia.

Consecutive losses to Virginia Tech and Tennessee knocked Miami out of the national-title hunt and stirred criticism of Berlin, even though Miami finished 11-2 and twice defeated Florida State.

Berlin and Rix have stayed in contact since high school.

"We just know what each other goes through as far as the criticism or anything else that comes along with the territory of being a QB at a high-profile program," Rix said.

Story Lines

A few first-week story lines worth tracking:

Sylvester Croom breaks the Southeastern Conference head-coaching color barrier Saturday in Starkville, Miss., leading Mississippi State against Tulane.

"As much as I love history, one day I'll appreciate it," he said on a teleconference this week. "I do feel good about the fact my life will have made an impact. But right now the most important thing is our players, their welfare, and us winning ballgames here at Mississippi State."

The Bulldogs were 2-10 last season. . . .

Had Mike Price and George O'Leary not messed up their coaching careers, they'd be looking at two opening wins this year.

Alabama, the school at which Price coached for about five minutes before a strip-club scandal derailed him, opens with a cinch home victory against Utah State.

Instead Price, who starts his career over at Texas El Paso, opens the season tonight at Arizona State.

Had O'Leary not fudged on his resume, he'd be taking Notre Dame to Provo, Utah, this week to meet mediocre Brigham Young.

Instead, O'Leary's Central Florida team heads to Madison to face, gulp, Wisconsin. However, O'Leary won't be making the trip because he'll be attending his mother's funeral.

Miami Hurricanes quarterback Brock Berlin will have to wait to play Florida State, thanks to another Hurricane -- Frances. Game will take place Sept. 10.