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GAME DAY

USC vs. Florida State

September 26, 1998|ROBYN NORWOOD

Time: 12:30 p.m. PDT.

* Site: Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee.

* TV: Channel 7.

* Radio: XTRA (690), KCTD (1540).

THE OFFENSES

* After its stunning loss to North Carolina State, Florida State simplified its offense to take better advantage of running back Travis Minor, who averages 107 yards a game, and limit the demands on new quarterback Chris Weinke, who threw six interceptions in the loss. The result was a 62-13 victory over Duke. USC counters Minor with tailback Chad Morton and counters receiver Peter Warrick with R. Jay Soward. The Trojans have big-play capabilities but have yet to show a sustained attack behind quarterbacks Mike Van Raaphorst and Carson Palmer, both of whom have played in every game.

THE DEFENSES

* The Seminoles have given up only 225 yards a game, and only 77 on the ground, but the pass rush is one of Coach Paul Hackett's main concerns, especially with USC pass protection he called "average at best." USC's quarterbacks were sacked five times against Oregon State. The defense is the strength of USC's team as well. Linebacker Chris Claiborne caught Florida State Coach Bobby Bowden's eye last year, and Bowden says he was more impressed with him than by Ohio State's Andy Katzenmoyer. One key battle: Warrick versus USC cornerback Daylon McCutcheon.

* Key to the game: The weather is the wild card. Though a change of conditions still could force cancellation or postponement of the game, USC is preparing to play in rain and gusty winds that could turn the contest into a ground-oriented defensive affair. But there's also a chance Hurricane Georges' path will give the teams a break.

* Fast fact: Florida State is 4-1 against the Pacific 10 Conference. The Seminoles are 1-0 against USC and 3-1 against Arizona State, losing in the 1971 Fiesta Bowl but winning in 1979, '83 and in '84--when the Sun Devil quarterback was Jeff Van Raaphorst, a brother of the current USC quarterback.

* Line: Florida State by 15.

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