NCF Nation: Gator Bowl 2009 bowls

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Bobby Bowden is an entertainer. It's no wonder he's going to continue to make a living by speaking to people.

He had fun in his postgame press conference, and so did we. Win or lose, Bobby Bowden is one of the greatest characters in college football, and one of the best interviews.

Here are some snippets of what he had to say following the final game of his career:

On what the headline would be tomorrow if he could write it: "Well, my headline would probably be, 'Bobby Bowden pulled out another great win with his excellent strategy. He jerked the mic away from Jimbo Fisher and started calling plays himself. That's why they won.'

"Another lie. It would be another lie."

On being carried off the field:"They must have sent the littlest guys they could. They couldn't even lift me up. And so, anyway, I ended up walking off the field. They were determined to get me on their shoulders. So they did that when I came off that stage. I don't know how far they would have carried me, but I finally got them to put me down."

On throwing his hat into the stands:"I say, 'Dadgummit, that's my last game, they can't give me more than 15 yards. So I'm going to throw that hat up there for the last time to the band because they mean so much to me."

On planting the spear: "Yeah, I used to try to throw a javelin in college and it would just kill me when it wouldn't stick up. Throw that thing down there, and it is supposed to stick. I was wondering if that thing was going to stick. But I got it on my first shot, so I could be a pretty good spear thrower, I believe."

Any regrets?: "I wanted 400 so bad. I wanted 400 so bad because I felt like, well, Joe is going to beat me -- when they took away those games, Joe is going to beat me. And if I could just get to 400, it would be me and him. I could hang around with him and follow him around a little bit. But I wanted 400 but didn't get a shot at it."

FSU wins one for Bowden

January, 1, 2010
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- With nine minutes remaining in the game, as E.J. Manuel's two-yard touchdown run was under review, chants of "Bob-by, Bob-by, Bob-by," began to fill Jacksonville Municipal Stadium. This wasn't a game Florida State was expected to win, but this also wasn't the way Bobby Bowden expected his career to end -- on somebody else's terms. Considering the circumstances, though, it couldn't have ended better on the field for the Seminoles.

After a rocky start, Florida State regrouped on both sides of the ball and was able to end Bowden's legendary career with a 33-21 win against his former team, West Virginia. I'll be back from Bowden's final postgame press conference with more from this game.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Florida State's undisciplined defense reared its ugly head to start the second half with a facemask and a late hit penalty on the same play. FSU entered the game No. 86 in the country in penalties, and continued the trend, helping the Mountaineers from their own 40-yard line to the Noles' 13-yard line.

But West Virginia couldn't do anything with it. They struggled under the direction of backup quarterback Geno Smith, who fumbled and recovered it, and the drive ended with a 33-yard field goal attempt sailing wide right.

Florida State leads 16-14, but this is anyone's game in the second half.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla., -- This game has suddenly become more interesting, thanks to Florida State's defense -- namely Dekoda Watson. Watson came up with two big sacks on WVU quarterback Jarrett Brown -- one for a loss of 14 yards, and one for a loss of nine yards -- on the Mountaineers' last possession. They were the kind of fierce hits that can ignite the entire defense. Those two sacks followed Jamie Robinson's interception, which led to a touchdown for the Noles. Oh, and the sun has finally come out here.

Consider the momentum shifted.

WVU turnover proves costly

January, 1, 2010
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Finally, Florida State got a momentum-changing play from its defense. Jamie Robinson intercepted Jarrett Brown here early in the second quarter and Florida State was able to score off the turnover. WVU leads, 14-10, but the play gave Florida State some life in this game.

Florida State's running game should be one thing it can count on. Jimbo Fisher needs to keep things simple for rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel, and with a veteran offensive line and talented running backs, it will help take some pressure off of Manuel. So far he's completed 50 percent of his passes. The best defense for Noel Devine & Co. in this game is to keep them off the field, and FSU will need to run the ball and control the clock to do that.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Nothing seems to be going right for Florida State. The Noles couldn't even take advantage of excellent field position, as they started their last drive on WVU's 24-yard line. After a poor pass by rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel, Dustin Hopkins' 37-yard field goal sailed wide left.

Was Florida State ready for this game?

Two trips into the red zone for three points. You have to wonder how much of a distraction all of the coaching changes and Bowden festivities have had on this team.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- There is a hand-made sign hanging near the West Virginia band that reads "We (heart) U Bobby."

Since it's so close to the Mountaineers, it should read, "We (heart) your defense, Bobby."

This is what got Florida State in trouble all year long -- allowing big plays on defense. West Virginia has only had the ball for two possessions so far, but the Mountaineers have already proved that the Noles' defense didn't get any extreme makeover during the past month.

On second-and-13 from his own 26-yard line, Noel Devine took off for a 70-yard gain, a team record for the longest run in a bowl game for a Mountaineer. It landed WVU on FSU's 4-yard line and set up the second touchdown of the game. WVU leads 14-3 with 5:13 left to play. It could be a long day for Florida State.

Gator Bowl greetings

January, 1, 2010
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It's literally raining on Bobby Bowden's parade.

The weather here is miserable. It's rainy, cold, and muddy. Fans are walking around in ponchos with umbrellas. There were a few thousand fans watching Bowden and his team take their walk from the buses to the stadium entrance. It was the first time Bowden had ever done that. He and his wife, Ann, were under an umbrella.

But I'm still not feeling it. It still doesn't seem as grand as it should be for Bowden's final farewell. This game -- the actual matchup against West Virginia -- is overshadowed by today's other games, especially the Rose Bowl and the Sugar Bowl. And it should be. But there's a chapter of college football history closing here today in Jacksonville Municipal Stadium, and so far, more people seem to be talking about the weather.

Gator Bowl preview

December, 31, 2009
Here's a quick preview of Friday's Konica Minolta Gator Bowl:

WHO TO WATCH: FSU quarterback E.J. Manuel. It’s only his fourth career start, and so far Manuel has been a bit unpredictable, which is to be expected. In his debut against Wake Forest, Manuel looked as if he made a seamless transition into the starting job in place of injured starter Christian Ponder. He has completed over 60 percent of his passes in each of the past three games, but has also thrown six interceptions and only two touchdowns. West Virginia leads the Big East and is No. 26 in the country in pass efficiency defense.

WHAT TO WATCH: Florida State’s run defense. It has to be better. Has to be. West Virginia is averaging 183.5 rushing yards per game, second best in the Big East and 32nd in the nation. FSU’s rushing defense is ranked 108th in the nation, allowing 203.3 yards per game. FSU’s defensive line will have some problems handling the Mountaineers up front, and they should be able to find some creases for Noel Devine.

WHY WATCH: If you don’t know, find a new hobby. Try knitting or something. It’s Bobby Bowden’s final game of his career, and it comes against his former team, as Bowden was the head coach at West Virginia from 1970-75, leading the Mountaineers to a 42-26 record (1-1 in bowls). Bowden (388-129-4) has won 388 games over 44 seasons, the second most among all FBS coaches behind Joe Paterno (393). As if that weren’t reason enough, it’s also the final game for longtime defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews.

PREDICTION: The Seminoles will start of strong, fueled by the emotion surrounding the game, but West Virginia will win the battle up front, and Florida State won’t be able to contain Devine or quarterback Jarrett Brown for four quarters. The Noles’ defense has been FSU's problem all season, and that’s not going to change just because it’s Bowden’s final game. Manuel will play well enough to keep Florida State in the game, but in the end he’ll make a few rookie mistakes and West Virginia will win the turnover battle leading to a 35-24 Mountaineers win.