Senior gets nod in final game

Updated: November 30, 2004, 7:10 PM ET
Associated Press

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Florida State quarterback Chris Rix will start against West Virginia in the Gator Bowl.

Rix, who is 24-11 as a starter for the Seminoles (8-3), has started just one game since Wyatt Sexton replaced him in October. But Rix has started two of the Seminoles' past three bowl games, including the 2002 Gator Bowl.

"Nearly all of our changes (this season) have been based on performance," coach Bobby Bowden said Tuesday. "It has nothing to do with seniority, sentimentality or anything else."

Sexton started the season finale against Florida, but was relieved by Rix late in the third quarter. Rix directed the Seminoles to 10 fourth-quarter points, but threw a fourth-down interception in the closing seconds of the 20-13 loss.

Bowden said he and quarterbacks coach Daryl Dickey made the decision after looking at the Florida game tape.

"We both looked each other in the eye and said, 'It's got to be Chris,' " Bowden said.

As a freshman, Rix started the Seminoles' 30-17 win over Virginia Tech in the 2002 Gator Bowl. But he missed the 2003 Sugar Bowl after he overslept for an exam and was suspended for the game. Rix also started last season's loss to Miami in the Orange Bowl.

After starting the season's first three games, Rix injured his ankle against Clemson and lost his job to Sexton. After a midseason loss to Maryland, Rix reclaimed the starting spot against Duke, but was replaced at halftime and has not started since.

The Seminoles formally accepted their bid to the Jan. 1 bowl Tuesday, while the Mountaineers (8-3) accepted their bid Monday.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press