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COLLEGE FOOTBALL / DAILY BOWL REPORT : SUGAR BOWL : Florida Hoping for a Sweeter Result

In the only other meeting between the teams, West Virginia upset Florida, 26-6, in the 1981 Peach Bowl.

Afterward, Gator Coach Charley Pell burned film of the game and later buried it in a corner of the Florida practice field and erected a small monument as a reminder to the embarrassment.

Steve Spurrier said he noticed the monument when he took over as Florida coach before the 1990 season, and had it removed.

“West Virginia is not a part of our practice field anymore,” Spurrier said.

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West Virginia Coach Don Nehlen used the film-burning anecdote to make a not-so-subtle plea for a new practice field. Nehlen said there isn’t enough room to bury anything on the Mountaineers’ field.

“We’re trying to find a hundred yards of field that is flat in West Virginia,” Nehlen said.

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Tailback Jon Jones, who missed most of the season after breaking his leg in the season opener, will play a lot against Florida, Nehlen said. Jones was the starter until the injury and was replaced by sophomore Robert Walker, who gained 1,304 yards.

Jones returned late in the season but had not healed completely. Nehlen said the month off before the Sugar Bowl has helped.

“Jon Jones, going into the season, in my opinion, was a big league running back,” Nehlen said. “Jon Jones (now) looks like Jon Jones. If he is Jon Jones, he’s going to play.”

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Nehlen may or may not celebrate his 58th birthday today. “After the game, I’ll probably feel a helluva lot older or a helluva lot younger,” he said. . . . The Mountaineers left rowdy New Orleans to spend Friday night before the game day at a remote, undisclosed location in Mississippi. “The noise is a factor,” Nehlen said. “I’m glad we’re leaving. I know they won’t get into trouble where they’re going because I’ve never heard of it.” . . . Florida is looking for its first Sugar Bowl victory in the school’s fourth appearance.


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