Despite its worst season in about three decades, Florida State is still going bowling. The Seminoles will travel to the West Coast to take on UCLA in the Emerald Bowl on December 27.
After winning the ACC a year ago and facing Penn Sate in a thriller of an Orange Bowl, things are quite different this time around. They are only 6-6 and will be going into the bowl game with a lame-duck offensive coordinator. Bobby Bowdens son Jeff will run the offense in his final duties at FSU. They will also have to face a UCLA team that was able to down their cross-town rival USC in its last game.
It will be the first meeting between the two storied programs, and perhaps the best player on the field, FSU LB Buster Davis, will be playing in his final collegiate game. While there is so much anger over FSU's offensive coaching staff and the problems with the offense, it has overshadowed the grit of FSU's defense. Despite losing half the available players, this defense still ranks 12th nationally in total defense, 10th in rushing defense, and 36th in scoring defense. When playing so many freshmen, this has been an incredible performance.
Despite being 10-2 a year ago, UCLA never was really mentioned in anyones breath when talking about great teams (especially because they were destroyed by USC). After a thrilling win this year against the Trojans, they are certainly on the map, despite a tougher year record-wise. Karl Dorrell was able to get the biggest win of his four year stay with UCLA, and it set up this intriguing matchup with Florida State.
After a win against Northwestern in the Sun Bowl last year, UCLAs defense will try and put in another stellar performance after holding USC to only nine points in its last game. It was the first time in 63 games that the Trojans didnt post 20 or more points on the scoreboard. The UCLA defense has the 11th best rushing defense in the nation, which could put a lot of pressure on FSU QB Xavier Lee, or Drew Weatherford.
Patrick Cowan looks like he will get the start for the gold and powder blue, but Ben Olson may be healed from the torn knee ligament he suffered in the Arizona game on October 7. Cowan led UCLA to victory against USC, scoring the only TD of the game. Who starts the bowl game will be a tough decision for Dorrel to make.
An FSU loss in this game would result in the Seminoles' first losing season since 1976 when they went 5-6. That was Bobby Bowden's first season with the school and his only losing season in Tallahassee. As a head coach, Bowden's only other losing season was a 4-7 mark with West Virginia in 1974.
Doug Kroll is an independent contributor to College Football Poll.com.