EJ Manuel looking for fourth bowl victory

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Erik Manuel had mentioned to his son that he was close to accomplishing something special, a feat that no other Florida State quarterback had ever done.

EJ Manuel is already 3-0 in bowl games. And although he didn’t start the 2010 Chick-fil-A Bowl win over South Carolina, he relieved the injured Christian Ponder after halftime and led Florida State to a win.

Manuel would be the first Florida State quarterback to play a significant amount of time in four bowl victories if the Seminoles (11-2) defeat Northern Illinois (12-1) on Jan. 1 in the Orange Bowl.

He also would be the first Florida State quarterback to start and win three bowl games.

“My dad mentioned that to me when I was home a few weeks ago,” Manuel said. “I’m looking forward to it. If you can have a 4-0 record, that says a lot. That says enough in itself. Just got to keep the streak going.”

Manuel hasn’t had the best numbers in bowl games, but he has delivered clutch performances — and victories.

Last year, on a broken leg he suffered at some point in the second half, he led Florida State back from a 14-3 fourth-quarter deficit to beat Notre Dame 18-14 in the Champs Sports Bowl.

Manuel completed 20 of 31 passes for 249 yards and a pair of touchdown passes, to Bert Reed and Rashad Greene.

In the 26-17 win over South Carolina, Florida State led 13-3 at the half. Manuel then led the Seminoles to three scoring drives in the second half, finishing with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Taiwan Easterling, to secure the win.

And as a freshman in 2009, Manuel helped coach Bobby Bowden retire with a 33-21 win over West Virginia in the Gator Bowl. Manuel had a touchdown run and completed 17 of 24 passes against the Mountaineers.

Manuel is a combined 48 of 70 (68.5 percent) for 522 yards in the three bowl games.

West Virginia’s Pat White, from 2005-08, is thought to be the only quarterback to start in four bowl wins.

Oklahoma’s Landry Jones is going for his fourth bowl win — all starts — when the Sooners play Texas A&M in the AT&T Cotton Bowl on Jan. 4.

Manuel won’t be in their company because he didn’t start the bowl win over South Carolina. But 4-0 in bowl games is an accomplishment no Seminoles quarterback can claim.

The last Florida State quarterback to start and win two straight bowl games was Danny Kanell, who led the Seminoles to wins in the 1995 Sugar Bowl and 1996 Orange Bowl.