The battle for No. 1, as it had been billed, had enough turning points to make even the best novelist jealous.
The first half provided an entire game's worth of excitement, as the teams exploded for seven touchdowns in drives that didn't last much longer than the blink of an eye, and J. D. Carlson added a field goal that ricocheted off the cross bar through the uprights.
"It was fun at first," Wolverine tailback Ricky Powers said. "The shoot-out felt good."
The two biggest plays came on Florida State's first drive of the game. On first down in Michigan territory, the Seminoles ran something Florida coach Bobby Bowden called the "crocodile" play. Casey Weldon dropped back to throw and lateralled the ball across field to Charlie Ward, who then threw back to Weldon. At the same time, the entire offensive line positioned itself in front of Weldon, enabling the quarterback to run for 29 yards. That set up a touchdown on a fake field goal.
Michigan displayed some power of its own in the opening half. As in his two previous games, split end Desmond Howard ignited the charge, this time with two tantalizing touchdown grabs.
In the second half, Florida State took control. The Seminoles proved worthy of their No. 1 ranking, capitalizing on almost every Wolverine miscue.
"We took momentum, they took it back, then we took it back and never lost it," Bowden said.
Michigan's 51-31 defeat would be their only loss of the season.
Text: Phil Green and Theodore Cox. Photos: Jeff Schrier/MHP.
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