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ORANGE BOWL At Miami

January 02, 1999|J.A. ADANDE

FLORIDA (9-2) vs. SYRACUSE (8-3)

5 p.m. PST, Channel 7

* Bowl records: Florida 12-13, Syracuse 10-7-1

* Series history: Syracuse leads, 2-1.

* How the teams got there: Both teams came close to derailing Tennessee's perfect season, Syracuse right off the bat. The Orangemen squandered a late lead on a long drive and a last-second field goal in the season opener. Florida missed a field-goal attempt in overtime, allowing Tennessee to escape with a 20-17 victory on Sept. 19. The Gators lost their shot at a national championship when they lost to Florida State on Nov. 21. Syracuse did well in the Big East, pounding Miami, 66-13, to clinch the conference championship and a spot in the Bowl Championship Series.

* The game: Florida's Fun-n-Gun offense hasn't been as much of either this season compared with years past. Coach Steve Spurrier couldn't settle on a quarterback, but was left with Doug Johnson when Jesse Palmer broke his collarbone in the sixth game. The Gators averaged only 115.8 yards rushing. Florida's defense is led by linebacker Jevon Kearse, but it will be without end Tim Beauchamp, one of three players suspended for violating school rules. Syracuse quarterback Donovan McNabb leads a potent option attack that scored 44 touchdowns this season.

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