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'Noles sense urgency

Photo by Richard Shiro

Photo by Richard Shiro

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- It wasn't the 80th birthday Bobby Bowden had hoped for.

The Florida State coach spent the milestone Sunday reviewing a fourth quarter collapse at Clemson that led to a 40-24 defeat a few hours earlier.

"You don't celebrate after last night," said Bowden, noting that his son Terry's North Alabama team lost its first game of the season in four overtimes. "Our whole family got whipped."

A fourth straight loss at Clemson leaves Florida State in danger of its first losing season since Bowden's inaugural campaign at the school in 1976.

The Seminoles (4-5, 2-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) must win two of their remaining games to become bowl eligible and avoid sub-.500 season. And they could be without starting quarterback Christian Ponder for the rest of the year as well.

Ponder dislocated his right throwing shoulder when making a tackle after being intercepted for the fourth time.

"It didn't sound all that good," Bowden said when asked about Ponder's injury. "It's tough, but there's nothing you can do about it."

Florida State sports medicine director Randy Oravetz said doctors planned to further examine of Ponder's shoulder Monday to evaluate the injury and determine their best course of action.

Ponder had thrown only three picks all season before the matchup against Clemson's talented secondary.

Bowden said redshirt freshman E.J. Manuel has had plenty of practice reps and should be ready for his first extended game action in a noon game Saturday at Wake Forest.

"How's he going to play in a game? You don't know," Bowden said. "Some kids really come out in a situation like that."

Florida State, which has surrendered 40 points or more in three of its last four games, sandwiches a Nov. 22 home game against Maryland between road dates at Wake Forest and Florida, Nov. 28.

Bowden said he hopes that the Seminoles' 32-season winning streak and its national best run of consecutive bowl appearances will motivate the team down the stretch run of a disappointing year.

"You hope that that's motivating," he said. "Playing in a bowl is exciting. Every kid wants to play in a bowl."