Seminoles should handle Virginia Tech

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 27, 1999

Here are my picks for the national championship in college football in 2000 — Tennessee or Florida State.

How can you go wrong?

These two football programs have been unbelievable in the 1990s and there is no reason to believe that will change — unless Bobby Bowden retires or department stores start demanding the right price on items.

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Florida State is expected to win its second national championship against Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl.

That may not sound impressive, but this is:

Florida State has played in bowl games that decided the national championship four times over the past eight years, counting this year.

Since 1987, Florida State’s worst finish was No. 4.

The Seminoles had won a record 11 straight bowl games before losing to Florida in the 1997 Sugar Bowl on Jan. 4.

This year is the 13th straight 10-win season Florida State.

Bowden rebuilt a program that had won just four games over the two years prior to his arrival in 1977 into one of the most successful in the nation.

Now check out some of Tennessee’s impressive numbers.

The 9-2 Volunteers meet Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl Jan. 2.

Tennessee is making its third appearance in an alliance bowl and Bowl Championship Series Game.

The Volunteers can brag of six national championships, going unbeaten in 1998 to claim the title under Phillip Fulmer.

The Fiesta Bowl is Tennessee’s 11th consecutive postseason game and 18th in the last 19 years.

The Vols have a total of 23 seniors who have posted a 43-6 mark, won a national title and back-to-back SEC titles.

Tennessee boasts of the sixth-winningest home record in the 1990s with a 57-7 mark (891).

The Vols are tied for the second longest home winning streak in the nation at 22.

They are 31-1 at home over the past five seasons.

That’s a lot of &uot;Rocky Top.&uot;

And this year alone, the Volunteers have had only one opposing running back rushed for more than 100 yards.

In fact, that feat has only been accomplished twice in the last 24 games.

Tennessee’s defense held five opponents to 14 points or less, including a 24-0 shutout of Auburn.

The Volunteer defense held its first seven opponents without a rushing touchdown.&160;

They allowed just three all year.

Tennessee’s offense had a back rush for at least 100 yards on six occasions.

Jamal Lewis and Travis Henry posted three 100-games each.

So will the rich get richer early next year.

Count on it.

The Tennessee-Nebraska game may actually be better than the Florida State-Virginia Tech contest.

The Hokies are a good team and deserve to be playing for a title.

Their defense is very impressive, but I believe Virginia Tech quarterback Michael Vick will not get much help on offense.

I look for the Seminoles by 24-14.

Tennessee and Nebraska have met only once at the 1998 Orange Bowl when the Husker physically dominated the Vols 42-17.

Tennessee has gotten more physical, while Nebraska is not as intimidating.

Tennessee’s defense will keep Nebraska contained, while Tee Martin will find a way to get the Vols into the end zone three or four times.

Tennessee 24, Nebraska 14.

Joey Martin is sports editor at The Democrat. He can be reached at 446-5172 ext 232 or by e-mail at