With Florida State (4--4, 2--4 in the ACC) in last place in the ACC's Atlantic Division, coach Bobby Bowden is enduring unprecedented criticism. Last week two Palm Beach--area boosters called for the 76-year-old coach to retire, and another alum has created the website retirecoachbowden.com. "I know I can't last forever," says Bowden, the winningest coach in Division I-A history. "But I just can't convince myself that I can't [get the job done]." FSU is 5--8 in its past 13 games and has lost more games since the start of the 2001 season (24) than it had in the 15 seasons before that (19). Bowden (above) notes that Penn State counterpart Joe Paterno, 79, was similarly besieged before leading his team to an 11--1 record last season. "I've used that as a guideline," says Bowden. There's one major difference, however: Paterno overhauled his staff in 2004; Bowden, whose son Jeff has also been harshly criticized while serving as offensive coordinator, says he has no plans to shake up his staff. He blames FSU's woes on a rash of injuries, which has forced the already young Seminoles to start five true freshmen, and points out that all four losses have been by seven points or less. "I can't stand that 'wait till next year' deal," says Bowden. "But next year we'll have almost our whole team back, plus some guys out of the hospital. This group is going to turn it around. Who knows—it could happen next week."
BY THE NUMBERS
Michigan's past three opponents (Penn State, Iowa and Northwestern) have rushed for a combined 14 yards. For the season the second-ranked Wolverines lead the country in rushing defense, allowing 28.4 yards per game. Much of the credit goes to Michigan's dominating defensive line. Junior tackle Alan Branch is considered the top NFL prospect in the country at his position, and senior end LaMarr Woodley (left) ranks second in the country in sacks, with 11.
THREE AND OUT
1 By firing coach John Bunting on Oct. 22, North Carolina gave itself a leg up on the competition if it intends to woo Butch Davis. The former University of Miami and Cleveland Browns coach, who is looking to return to the sideline following a two-year break, has expressed interest in the job.
2 If USC does not beat Cal on Nov. 18, it will probably be shut out of the BCS for the first time since 2001. The two Fiesta Bowl berths will most likely go to the Big 12 champion and Boise State (if it stays undefeated), while the Sugar and Orange will want more geographically attractive at-large teams.
3 Give credit to Washington State coach Bill Doba for reversing the Cougars' fortunes following consecutive losing seasons. Wazzu (6--3), which lost five games last year by four points or less, has eliminated the drama by routing Oregon and UCLA the past two weeks.
Read more from Stewart Mandel at SI.com/collegefootball.
GARY ROTHSTEIN/ICON SMI (BOWDEN)
JOHN BIEVER (WOODLEY)