Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Quarterbacks at Center of Showdown; Manuel Has Opportunity to Lead FSU to Its Best Season since 1999

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Quarterbacks at Center of Showdown; Manuel Has Opportunity to Lead FSU to Its Best Season since 1999

Article excerpt

Byline: Garry Smits

TALLAHASSEE | Is Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel finally getting some love on a national basis?

Compared to earlier this season, being invited to play in the Senior Bowl and making the final five on the Johnny Unitas Award watch list in the past week shows that Manuel might be getting some recognition for his role in helping the 10th-ranked Seminoles to a 10-1 record and the ACC championship game.

Not that it's a priority for the senior who has won some big games - and lost a couple of inexplicable ones - during four years with the Seminoles. Manuel has always been team-first, never me-first, and accolades or the lack thereof never seem to affect him one way or another.

"I don't much care about it," he said during a news conference Monday. "I just continue to play and work hard. Football is not a one-man sport, not a one-man game."

But one of the many standouts from the quarterback factory in the Tidewater area of Virginia has a chance to cement an FSU legacy reserved for players such as Charlie Ward, Chris Weinke and Danny Kanell - and get some national accolades in the process. Computer rankings and BCS indices aside, it can still be the best season of FSU football since the national championship year of 1999 if Manuel can stay the course and play his usual steady and consistent game.

Here's the to-do list for Manuel and the rest of the Seminoles:

- Beat Florida at home on Saturday. Manuel is 1-0 as a starter against the Gators.

- Beat Georgia Tech on Dec. 1 in Charlotte, N.C., in the ACC championship game, reserving a spot in the Orange Bowl and giving FSU its first 12-victory season since 1999.

- Beat the Big East champion (Rutgers or Louisville) in Miami to secure the Seminoles' first BCS bowl title since a 46-29 victory over Virginia Tech in the 2000 Sugar Bowl.

Much of that depends on Manuel, who is seventh in the nation in passing efficiency (167.54) and has been 23-5 as a starter, going back to a 3-1 record as a freshman in 2009, in relief of Christian Ponder. …

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