Death, taxes and Miami beating FSU

Originally Published: September 10, 2004
By Ivan Maisel | ESPN.com

MIAMI -- Bobby Bowden slumped in a chair. He grabbed a TV mike on a stand and held it sideways, like an old bluesman getting ready to sing of the love that cleaned out his bank account and left with his sideman.

Blues singers sing fiction. Bowden's blues were real. It has been an awful week for the Florida State coach. He buried a grandson Thursday, and given his deep, abiding religious faith, he may be able to put the 16-10 overtime loss to Miami in perspective. But after the game, the events of the week seemed to have consumed him. His voice quavered, and his right foot tap-tap-tapped, as if he had to release the angst somewhere.

Bobby Bowden
FSU coach Bobby Bowden is still looking for a way to beat Miami.
"You just have to hand it to Miami again," Bowden said. "We had our chance to put the game away and we didn't. They had a chance to put us away and they did."

A few feet away, Florida State quarterback Chris Rix sat, staring down, answering questions he would have given anything not to hear again. For the fifth time in his career, he had started against Miami and Florida State had lost. Rix threw two interceptions. He lost two fumbles. He completed 12-of-28 passes for 108 yards.

"It's very tough, very tough," Rix said. He leaned back and folded his arms across his chest, delivering the message with body language that he is too polite to voice. "That's as best as I can sum it up. None of them (the five losses) were good. The only thing that might put this one on top is that I might not get another shot at those guys."

Florida State dominated Miami for 59½ minutes and lost in overtime. The Hurricanes won, 16-10, just like they surely knew that they would. For that matter, so did the 78,622 in the Orange Bowl. If Friday night proved anything, it's that nothing is as constant as Miami's domination of Florida State.

Death, taxes and Sinorice Moss catching a 30-yard touchdown pass from Brock Berlin with 30 seconds to play to tie the game. Death, taxes and Frank Gore running 18 yards for the winning touchdown on Miami's second snap in the extra period. Death, taxes, and Miami beating Florida State.

In the last 11 months, they have played in the middle of the season, at the end of the season and in the beginning of the season. Miami won all three. This time they played in the Atlantic Coast Conference, which, given the quality of offensive football, was too bad for the conference.

For 59 minutes, you wondered: If John Swofford paid for the Miami-Florida State game with the ACC's American Express card, it may not be too late to invoke the buyer protection plan.

Florida State dominated for three quarters, turning two turnovers into a 10-0 lead. The Seminoles seemed impenetrable. On fourth-and four at the Florida State 32 midway through the third quarter, trailing 10-0, Miami coach Larry Coker chose not to attempt a field goal. Hurricane tight end Kevin Everett dragged across the middle, and there's no more bread-and-butter call in the Miami playbook. Berlin threw something that looked like Greg Maddux wasting an 0-2 pitch. Berlin clapped once and pointed to his chest, the universal football sign language for "My bad."

Based on his performance in the first three quarters, the Berlin chest point could have been the new bread-and-butter call in the Miami playbook. But in the final minute, Berlin and Miami came alive, and suddenly, they tied the game at 10-10. Moss caught the wide receiver screen, darted inside, then cut back outside and won the race to the flag. Florida State was spent.

"That last down, I was out there off of soul and spirit," said Florida State corner Bryant McFadden, referring to Moss's game-tying touchdown, which wasn't scored on McFadden's side of the field. "I've never been cramping so bad in my life. I'm glad he didn't come at me with that play. I don't know what I would have done."

The overtime became a fait accompli. Nothing captured Rix's history against Miami quite like the last snap he'll likely ever take against the 'Canes.

The Seminoles had a third-and-13 at the 28. Rix, in the shotgun, saw Miami defensive back Antrel Rolle quivering at the line of scrimmage.

"I knew where I was going," Rix said. "Antrel Rolle was going to blitz. We were going to throw a sight adjust," meaning that Rix and the receivers knew the blitz was coming and would adjust accordingly.

But Rix never threw the pass because he never caught the snap.

"It was a little low but I should have caught it. It was not normally where it is, but I should have caught it," Rix said. I've got to accept responsibility for not catching that ball."

He got up, walked over to do a live television interview, and gimped inside the locker room door. Quarterback coach Daryl Dickey walked out and said of Rix, "He's got to pick himself up off the ground and dust himself off like he's done all his life."

Bowden said after the game that he "would really have to do some thinking" about Rix. But he has no options. Rix is all Florida State has. Of course, that will do nothing to hearten the Seminole fans who must live with a loss to Miami for yet another year.

Miami, like Florida State, played great defense and poor offense, only to awaken at the very end. It made all the difference.

"It's going to be a long season for the ACC," Moss said, referring to the Atlantic Coast Conference, the league that the 'Canes have started 1-0.

It's already a long season for the Seminoles. They have started 0-1.

Ivan Maisel is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at ivan.maisel@espn3.com.

Ivan Maisel | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

ALSO SEE