TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel remembers the day well, too well.
Manuel watched helplessly from the sidelines three years ago as Christian Ponder's understudy while an untested freshman from Tallahassee, B.J. Daniels, led South Florida to a 17-7 upset of the Seminoles in his first collegiate start.
"It was a bad feeling," Manuel said. "We haven't forgotten it at all."
Saturday the two fifth-year seniors square off when Florida State (4-0) hits the road for the first time this season to play South Florida (2-2) in Tampa. The fourth-ranked Seminoles are a 17-point favorite.
Manuel, who was frustrated with being redshirted a year earlier, marveled at how Daniels shined in what was his first collegiate start.
"B.J., being from Tallahassee, was kind of his coming out party," Manuel said. "He had a huge game."
And Daniels has had many more since. He has amassed 9,333 total yards, sixth best in Big East Conference history.
Manuel put himself into the Heisman Trophy discussion with his performance Florida State's 49-37 win over Clemson last week. Manuel passed for 380 yards and ran for another 102 in a performance similar to what Daniels did to the Seminoles when he threw for 215 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another 126.
"He's a phenomenal athlete," Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said of Daniels. Fisher, who was in his final season as the Seminoles' offensive coordinator during that game in 2009, added: "No play is ever dead" when Daniels has the ball.
Daniels' teammates know that as well.
"You never know how he can come out of any situation," Bulls' wide receiver Terrence Mitchell said. "He's a different kind of quarterback."
Although Daniels played at Lincoln High School about five miles east of the Florida State campus, he wasn't recruited by the Seminoles. Fisher wanted Manuel — the signature recruit for the eventual head coach.
There are many similarities between the two QBs. Both are 22 and are known by their initials, although Daniels — Bruce Jr. — uses the conventional periods between letters while Manuel — Erik Jr. — doesn't.