With BYU's football season one game old, one thing is clear: There's at least a 16-point difference between No. 1 in the nation and No. 19.

Thursday night at Anaheim Stadium, the 19th-ranked Cougars were competently handled by the top-ranked Florida State Seminoles, 44-28. If FSU coach Bobby Bowden were less gracious,it could have been worse.The Seminoles were faster, more experienced, and just plain more talented than the Cougars in virtually every department, with the possible exception of quarterback. That "possible" is only in deference to Ty Detmer's remarkable credentials, because he kicked off this season's Heisman Trophy campaign by getting overshadowed by FSU quarterback Casey Weldon.

Detmer, making his first start since being knocked out of the Holiday Bowl last December with injuries to both shoulders, completed 19 of 32 passes for 229 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception. He was forced to scramble frequently under a strong Florida State rush, and had to attempt several off-balance or on-the-run throws. He was sacked three times.

"I'm glad it wasn't me playing our defense," Weldon said. "I feel for the guy."

Weldon completed 21 of 28 passes for 268 yards, two TDs and no interceptions while experiencing very little pressure from the BYU defense, which never sacked him.

Bowden pointed out, however, that it wasn't fair to compare Weldon and Detmer on the basis of this game because "Casey had better support." In other words, Weldon's teammates are better than Detmer's.

That fact was never more obvious than on FSU's opening possession, after BYU fizzled on its first drive. Starting at their own 14-yard line, the Seminoles chalked up gains of 19, 30 and 10 yards on their first three plays. Seven plays later fullback Edgar Bennett strutted into the end zone for the first score of the game, and the Seminoles looked like they could score all night.

BYU moved to the FSU 30 on its next drive, but on a second-down play Detmer was hit from behind while scrambling and fumbled, Florida State recovering. Six plays later Bennett powered up the middle for his second TD, and after a missed extra point the Seminoles settled for a 13-0 lead.

Detmer was intercepted on the first play of the Cougars' next possession, All-American Terrell Buckley coming up with a ball that the BYU QB tossed into a crowd. This time the BYU defense held, however, forcing FSU to punt. The Cougars then parlayed the running of fullback Peter Tuipulotu with the receiving of Micah Matsuzaki to march 90 yards for a score, Tuipulotu taking it in from the 21 on a draw play.

But, as they did every time BYU showed signs of life, FSU responded. The Seminoles ate up nearly six minutes with an 11-play drive that ended with a six-yard TD pass to Eric Turral and a two-point conversion pass.

Late in the second quarter FSU took a 28-7 lead on a five-yard TD run by Amp Lee, but BYU cut it to 28-14 just before the half ended with another Tuipulotu score on the draw play, this one a 22-yarder.

The Cougs had their last real chance to stay in the ballgame on their initial possession of the first half. The BYU defense had forced the Seminoles to kick, and punter Scott Player shanked one for a net 13 yards. That put BYU at the Seminole 39, and on first down the Cougars attempted a pitchout reverse to wide receiver Erik Hughes. Buckley wasn't fooled. He threw Hughes for a 12-yard loss, and the Cougs couldn't make up the lost ground. The Seminoles came right back with another long drive and touchdown, the beginning of 16 straight points they would score to take a 44-14 lead.

Detmer added a couple of TD passes in the fourth quarter, as Bowden played several second- and third-team defenders.

Bowden was effusive in his post-game praise of Detmer and the Cougars, saying he didn't feel comfortable until the final gun sounded, but his team looked capable of running up the score against the less-experienced Cougars.

"I just never felt like it was won," Bowden said. "I just felt like Detmer was going to come back."

Bowden's play-calling, however, made it appear he was trying to keep the score down. He called for passes on only eight of 39 first-down plays, despite having receivers open all over the field. As evidence of that, note that the Seminoles threw on 11 of their 16 third-down plays, usually against BYU's dime (six defensive backs) defense, and gained first downs on six of them.

At any rate, if this game did nothing else for the Cougars, it provided them with a learning experience.

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"It's tough when you play a team with so many starters returning and they look like they're in full swing," Detmer said. "We learned a lot, and that's our main goal in a first game."

One thing they learned is that the areas considered question marks entering this season - defensive line, offensive line and receivers - are still questionable.

The defensive line appeared to be the group with the most room for improvement, accounting for just 14 of BYU's 91 tackles. All of the Cougs' top six linemen saw action, in part because starter Brad Hunter was injured on the first series, but also because the coaches were trying to find someone to take control up front.

The offensive line made a better showing, but line coach Roger French wasn't satisfied. He tried several combinations because, as Edwards said, "There were times when they didn't seem to go so well."

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