TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- As the final minutes ticked away, the
Florida State crowd started chanting "Bobby Bowden! Bobby
Forty-four years after coaching his first college game, Bowden
reached the pinnacle Saturday.
He became major college football's winningest coach with his
339th career victory and clinched at least a tie for another
Atlantic Coast Conference title as Florida State (No. 7 ESPN/USA Today, No. 6 AP) kept
its national title hopes alive with a 48-24 victory over Wake
"It's just something that happened," said Bowden, who has been
reluctant to talk about surpassing longtime coaching friend Joe
Paterno of Penn State. "I'm kind of uncomfortable about it because
it ain't over. I expect Joe to come back and he will and I'll do
the best I can do."
Penn State was defeated 26-14 at Iowa a few hours earlier,
giving Bowden the opportunity to move into first by himself.
Last year, Bowden surpassed his coaching idol, Paul "Bear"
Bryant, the late Alabama coach.
"When Joe broke Bear's record, Bear couldn't do a darn thing
about it, he was underneath," Bowden said. "We broke Joe's, but
big Joe's still out there huntin' and peckin'."
Bowden picked up 31 wins at Samford (Ala.) College, where he
began his coaching career in 1959, another 42 at West Virginia and
is 266-65-4 since coming to Florida State in 1976. Bowden, who
spent six years as an assistant coach at Florida State and West
Virginia in the 1960s, is 339-97-4 in 38 seasons with two national
Bouncing back from an 9-5 season a year ago and an 8-4 mark in
2001, Bowden has Florida State aimed toward a 10-win season for the
18th time in his 28 years at the school.
"The only thing I've ever cared about is winning that next
daggum game," said Bowden, who takes the Seminoles to South Bend,
Ind., next Saturday against slumping Notre Dame.
Florida State (7-1, 6-0) holds a two-game lead over several
conference schools with only two league games left -- Nov. 8 at
Clemson and Nov. 15 against North Carolina State. A victory over
either would give Florida State the outright championship and an
automatic berth in a BCS bowl game.
The Seminoles, 89-5 since joining the ACC in 1992 with 11 titles
in 12 seasons, were just too strong for Wake Forest.
They took the lead for good late in the first quarter and built
it to 48-17 late in the game to remain perfect against the Demon
Deacons in a dozen league showdowns.
"It was good to see him reach that milestone, I just wish it
wasn't against the Deacs," Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe said.
"They were just too good for us."
Former Grambling (La.) coach Eddie Robinson has the all-time
college record with 408 wins, one more than John Gagliardi of St.
John's (Minn.), who won his 407th game Saturday.
The 74-year-old coach was joined on the sidelines at the end of
the game by his wife of 54 years, Ann, before an brief game-ending
ceremony to salute the achievement.
Junior quarterback Chris Rix, coincidentally matched Bowden's
victory total by passing for 339 yards and a pair of scores before
leaving the game after the third quarter.
Rix, who also ran for a touchdown, hugged his coach after the
"Thank you son, I appreciate it," Bowden told his oft-maligned
junior quarterback. "You guys made it happen. Now you have to do
it every week."
Rix threw a pair of touchdown passes to Craphonso Thorpe on
plays covering 25 yards and 10 yards, the first giving the
Seminoles a 27-14 halftime lead.
"The thing about Chris is that he is a feast or famine guy,"
Bowden said. "It's the consistency thing he's working on."
Wake Forest (4-4, 2-3) did lead briefly, 7-3, in the first
quarter when Jason Anderson caught a 38-yard pass from Cory
Rix scored on a 1-yard run with 1:38 left in the quarter as the
Seminoles regained the lead 10-7 and Leon Washington raced 65 yards
with a punt return less than two minutes later to give Florida
State a 17-7 advantage.
"It didn't seem that far," said Washington, who had missed
several games earlier in the season with an elbow injury.
"Actually it was a blocked kick. By the time I caught it,
everybody had overrun me."
Washington set a Florida State single-game record with 159 yards
on seven punt returns.
"He's the most dangerous man we've got," Bowden said.
Greg Jones' 3-yard TD run gave Florida State a 41-17 lead after
three quarters. Xavier Beitia started the scoring with 48-yard
field goal and added a second from 43 yards in the second quarter.
Randolph scored on a 13-yard run with a minute left in the
second quarter and Chris Davis scored on a three yard run for Wake
Forest with 25 seconds left.
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