While it's not the bowl game of choice for the Florida State Seminoles, the Jan. 1 Gator Bowl against West Virginia will represent a homecoming of sorts for a handful of players.
“It will be like high school again," said FSU tailback Leon Washington, who played high school football at Andrew Jackson in Jacksonville.
"I remember in high school I had all of my family there. I am anticipating a big crowd up there. I live five minutes from the stadium, most of my family lives within walking distance of the stadium so it’s going to be fun.”
FSU will be looking to end its season on a positive note after losing to Florida in its regular-season finale. The Seminoles also failed to qualify for a BCS bowl for the second time in four seasons.
“Naturally everyone wants to go to a BCS Bowl, but there is really only one BCS bowl that counts and that is where the national championship is played," FSU coach Bobby Bowden said.
"The rest of them are really rewards for the season. The seniors, it’s your last game, you like to go out with a bang. The underclassmen would like to try and get a good start for next year. No matter what bowl you are playing, it will be the same type of motivation except for the big one.”
FSU's offensive struggles have been well-documented this season, and Washington says the Seminoles will need a strong effort against West Virginia.
“They are kind of like Virginia," Washington said.
"They have big strong guys that like to play physical. We have to come out with a physical game like we did against Virginia. They run a 3-4 stack defense. We will be ready for it since we have played against it before.”
In addition to Washington, other players who hail from Jacksvonville include Tony Carter, John Frady, Cornelius Lewis, Lamar Lewis, Ron Lunford and Gerard Ross.