QB Rix looking to redeem '02 performance

Updated: October 30, 2003, 5:38 PM ET

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- A year ago, Florida State quarterback Chris Rix lost his starting job after a dismal performance against Notre Dame.

This weekend, the 22-year-old junior will try to show he's improved enough to lead the fifth-ranked team Seminoles to a road win that keeps them on the national championship path.

"If I do my part and do what I'm pushed to do I think we win the ball game," Rix said as he prepared for Saturday's game at Notre Dame (2-5).

He is now 21-8 as starter at Florida State, but just 3-5 against ranked teams -- that includes an 0-3 record against Miami.

Florida State (7-1, 6-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) has already clinched at least a share of another league title, but the Seminoles are only 5-7 against nonconference teams the past three seasons.

Turnovers have plagued Rix in the big games. He suffered three in Florida State's 22-14 defeat against Miami earlier this month, three in the Notre Dame loss a year ago and a nightmarish six as a freshman against Miami.

"The biggest thing from last year is, of course, the turnovers and the trying to do too much," Rix concedes. "And that's my goal to eliminate this year."

He's also been ineffective in rainy weather, inept in last year's loss at Louisville and again in a downpour three weeks ago against Miami.

Rix lost the starting job for a month after last year's Notre Dame loss, regained it when Adrian McPherson was dismissed from the team for allegedly stealing a check from a local business and then declared ineligible by school officials for the Sugar Bowl after failing to take a final exam in a religion course.

Rix is on his way to many school records and possibly Atlantic Coast Conference marks as well. He set the ACC total offense record by a freshman in 2001.

Although he missed five games a year ago, Rix enters the stretch drive of his junior season with 7,280 yards offense and has had a hand in 60 touchdowns, including 10 rushing.

But he isn't yet seen as a winner at Florida State where fans remember the likes of former quarterbacks Thad Busby and Casey Weldon and Heisman Trophy winners Charlie Ward and Chris Weinke. That foursome went 91-9 as starters.

Only Weinke started before his junior season and he was already 26 after a half dozen seasons in minor league baseball. Rix was forced to start as a redshirt freshman.

"He can only get better," said Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, who seeks a record 340th career win as a major college coach in Saturday's game. "He's just got so darned much to learn."

The 6-4 Rix is a handful to prepare for, given his strong arm and tremendous foot speed.

"His ability to scramble is just something that always frightens a defense," Notre Dame defensive coordinator Kent Baer said.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index