Bowden passes Paterno with 339th win

Updated: October 26, 2003, 1:13 AM ET

JERSEY CITY, New Jersey - Bobby Bowden stands alone, even if he did not mind sharing the stage with his wife.

Bowden passed Joe Paterno to become the all-time wins leader among Division I-A college football coaches as No. 7 Florida State coasted to a 48-24 victory over Wake Forest.

In his 28th season at Florida State, the 73-year-old Bowden recorded his 339th career victory to pass Penn State's Paterno, one of his closest friends in the coaching fraternity.

And while Saturday belonged to Bowden, there were other schools that came close to taking away at least a portion of his spotlight. Colorado made Oklahoma sweat before losing to the top-ranked Sooners, 34-20, while unheralded Alabama-Birmingham put a major scare into fifth-ranked Georgia before losing, 16-13.

The last Saturday in October also saw a wild five-overtime game in Alabama and 13th-ranked Texas Christian remain unbeaten with a 62-55 win over Houston.

There was little suspense in Seminole Country but plenty of history as Bowden reached his historic victory in an easy win over Wake Forest.

"That's just today, that's just this week," said Bowden, who celebrated by kissing his wife, Ann, at midfield. "Joe and I still have some life left in us. Those other guys can't fight for us. They're in the grave."

Paterno remained at 338 as the Nittany Lions suffered their fourth straight loss with a 26-14 defeat to 16th-ranked Iowa (6-2).

In the final minutes, the fans at Doak Campbell Stadium began chanting Bowden's name as he was joined on the sidelines by his wife. When time expired, Bowden's players picked up their coach and carried him on their shoulders.

"I think it (the record) means more to the players than it does to me," Bowden said. "They wanted it to happen and they made it happen."

Bowden acknowledged the crowd by tossing his hat into the Florida State band.

"I used to throw my hat into the band," he said. "I contemplated doing it in the last five minutes, but you can't go down there because it would be a penalty for leaving the (coaches') box."

Chris Rix passed for 339 yards - the same number as Bowden's win total - and two touchdowns, completing 24-of-34 passes for the Seminoles, who improved to 7-1 and clinched at least of share of their 11th Atlantic Coast Conference title in 12 years.

Bowden made a steady climb up the list thanks to the slide into mediocrity at Penn State. The Nittany Lions are just 22-26 since winning their first nine games of the 1999 season.

Iowa added to Penn State's troubles, defeating the Nittany Lions for the fourth straight time while bouncing back from a loss at Ohio State last week.

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz felt he was fortunate to catch Paterno when he is down.

"With the history of coach Paterno and his program, I expect them to continue to improve," Ferentz said. "He is one of the greatest coaches of all time and I would not underestimate him."

Jason White threw three touchdown passes as Oklahoma faced a tougher-than-expected challenge before posting a 34-20 victory.

With Oklahoma averaging 45 points per game and Colorado allowing more than 40 in its last five games, many expected a blowout in a rematch of last season's Big 12 title game.

But the Sooners (8-0) were not assured of the win until White tossed a 59-yard TD pass to Mark Clayton on 3rd-and-7 to make it 34-20 with 1:59 to play.

"I'm glad it ended like this," coach Bob Stoops said. "Our character was tested. Our guys stayed in there and still made plays that made a difference."

Billy Bennett kicked a 31-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter as Georgia (7-1) narrowly avoided a huge upset against Alabama-Birmingham.

One of the top teams in the country, the Bulldogs (7-1) were expected to have an easy time before their grueling Southeastern Conference schedule resumed against Florida next week.

"I didn't see a team that didn't put up a fight today," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "I saw a (Georgia) team that fought hard, but also fought a pretty good team. If we don't have any fight in us, we lose the football game today."

It was the second straight week that the Bulldogs failed to resemble a national championship contender. Last week, Georgia trailed 2-0 at halftime before posting a 27-8 win at Vanderbilt.

Sixth-ranked Washington State (7-1) also avoided a scare, overcoming seven turnovers and rallying from a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter to top Oregon State, 36-28.

Fourth-ranked Southern California (7-1) had no such trouble, rolling to a 43-23 win over Washington as Matt Leinart threw for 351 yards and four scores.

In a key SEC West Division game, Matt Mauck threw two of his three touchdown passes in the first quarter as ninth-ranked Louisiana State jumped to an early 21-point lead and coasted to a 31-7 win over No. 21 Auburn.

Auburn (5-3) had won its last five games and controlled its own destiny in the division race. But Auburn was overwhelmed in the first quarter and never was able to get its potent running game in gear.

The victory left Auburn and LSU (7-1) tied for second in the SEC West, one-half game behind surprising Mississippi, which defeated No. 20 Arkansas, 19-7. The Rebels are 4-0 in the SEC for the first time since 1970, when they were quarterbacked by Eli Manning's father, Archie.

In another matchup of ranked teams, Leon Hall had two interceptions and broke up a touchdown pass as 15th-ranked Michigan (7-1) stifled 10th-ranked Purdue, 31-3, in an important Big Ten Conference matchup.

The Boilermakers (6-2), who were knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten in conference play, have lost 16 straight games in Ann Arbor since their last win in 1966, when quarterback Bob Griese led them to the Rose Bowl.

In Tuscaloosa, Casey Clausen scored on a one-yard run and found James Banks with the conversion pass in the fifth overtime, lifting No. 22 Tennessee to a 51-43 victory over Alabama in an SEC thriller that lasted nearly five hours.

Points were even more plentiful in Houston, where Brandon Hassell threw four touchdown passes and Robert Merrill ran for 204 yards and a score in TCU's wild Conference USA victory over the Cougars.

While TCU's record remained unblemished, No. 14 Northern Illinois fell from the ranks of the unbeaten with a 34-18 loss to Bowling Green.

The Huskies became the second unbeaten to fall this week, joining No. 3 Virginia Tech (6-1), which fell to West Virginia, 28-7.

In other games, No. 8 Ohio State (7-1) routed Indiana, 35-6; No. 11 Nebraska (7-1) blanked Iowa State, 28-0; No. 17 Wisconsin (6-3) lost to Northwestern, 16-7; No. 18 Texas (6-2) rolled by Baylor, 56-0; and No. 19 Oklahoma State (7-1) defeated Texas A&M, 38-10.

No. 23 Utah (6-2), which has cracked the top 25 for the first time since 1996, likely will fall out after a 47-35 loss to New Mexico while No. 24 Minnesota topped Illinois, 36-10, to snap a two-game losing streak.

No. 2 Miami (7-0), No. 12 Michigan State (7-1) and No. 25 Florida (5-3) were off this week.

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