My Memories of FSU-Miami

Growing up in New York City college football isn’t a big deal. And FSU-Miami probably still doesn’t garner a lot of attention on Wall Street. But my love of football ran so deep that I remember watching the Game of the Week on CBS and ABC, occasionally getting to see Herschel Walker or the Oklahoma wishbone attack in between tremendous helpings of Syracuse, Penn State, Boston College and Notre Dame. The Hurricanes was on TV occasionally. I remember bit and pieces of the 1984 Orange Bowl against Nebraska and watched most of the “Flutie Game” in the 1984 season. My memories of FSU football started with my first FSU-Miami game in 1986. The rivalry has only gotten better to me with age. So a quick look back on the 28  FSU-Miami games I’ve been lucky enough to watch.

1986: Miami 41, FSU 23

I was still living in New York at the time and the Hurricanes were only starting to gain national traction in those parts thanks to a Long Islander named Vinny Testaverde. FSU was a pretty young squad if I remember and they opened the game with a throwback on the kickoff that was returned for a touchdown. The general consensus was that an inexperienced FSU squad was overmatched but played hard. Meanwhile the 1986 Miami team was the epitome of a 400-pound gorilla. They would have beaten the 1987 Miami team by two touchdowns. They were awesome. The only team that could beat them were…them and that’s what happened in the Fiesta Bowl when Testaverde imploded and threw five interceptions. Even then, the Hurricanes only lost by four points to Penn State.

1987: Miami 26, FSU 25

Still one of the top 20 college football games in history and you can see it on ESPN Classic a couple times a year or parts of it YouTube if you are impatient. I would suggest scoring ESPN Classic this week and looking for the original though. FSU was all grown up in 1987 and Sammie Smith was just bowling over Hurricanes like they were elementary school children. He had close to 200 yards and it was just one of the great power-running exhibitions of its time. And the talent was everywhere. I think there was something like 65 future NFL pros in that game. Steve Walsh to Michael Irvin on the smash route proved to be the difference maker after the Seminoles took a 19-3 lead. Danny McManus, who looked like he was 43, led the Seminoles to a score and a 26-25 game with less than a minute left. Bowden was going to kick the XP, McManus convinced him to go for two. The play called stunk if I remember correctly and it didn’t have a chance. Right call, wrong play. Miami wins national championship, FSU finishes in top five.

1988: Miami 31, FSU 0

I was still on summer break and in Elloree, South Carolina visiting my grandparents. They didn’t have a CBS station that worked so I had to listen and watch a jumbled screen until I fell asleep an hour later. I didn’t know who won the game until I saw FSU-Clemson a few weeks later. The game was about two things: The Seminole Rap (still online, thank god) and Cleveland Gary trucking Deion Sanders for a touchdown. Not sure why Sanders failing to make a tackle was a big deal but whatever.

1989: FSU 24, Miami 10
1990: Miami 31, FSU 22

I remember the ‘89 game for a couple of reasons. I had finally moved to Florida and it was a LOUD crowd at Doak Campbell for the ESPN night game. The Seminoles were clearly the better squad; they whipped up on Miami freshman QB Gino Torretta. I remember Odell Haggins absolutely killing the Miami interior line. The Seminoles had some strong rushers too. Amp Lee and Edgar Bennett were getting the job done. Still Miami went on to win a national title because it just seemed like the Hurricanes were always in the right place at the right time during the 80s. The 1990 game I only saw bits and pieces of. I remember Miami jumped out to a big lead behind Craig Erickson and FSU had some late scores to keep it respectable. 1990 was sort of forgettable for both programs despite winning 10 games.

1991: Miami 17, FSU 16
1992: Miami 19, FSU 16

I remember feeling awful for Bobby Bowden after the 1991 game. I really wanted FSU to break through that year. I liked that team. However, I didn’t feel bad for him in the 1992 game. I hated the idea that he went for a tie against his hated rival (no college overtime in 1992) even though it was the right call. Oh yeah both field goals went wide right in case you forgot. The 1992 game was the better of these two contests; it was a tremendous exhibition of speed and physicality. Had that game been held in 2013 both Marvin Jones and Michael Barrow would have been ejected for targeting. In 1992 it was just two guys delivering knockout blows. Gino Torretta, who gets mocked by Miami fans for doing nothing more than winning 23 out of 24 games as a starter, led game-winning drives in both games.

1993: FSU 28, Miami 10

Finally the Seminoles would get over the hump and eventually they would go on to win the program’s first national title. Charlie Ward had his Heisman play in the first quarter when he weaved around Miami’s pass rush and launched a deep missile to Matt Frier, caught perfectly in stride, to give FSU a 14-7 lead. Things would only get better for the Seminoles from there as the world was introduced to a freshman from Baton Rouge named Warrick Dunn. The game was officially put out of reach on a pick-six and I mentioned that because as the Seminoles celebrated ABC switched to a cutscene of a distraught Miami player named Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

1994: Miami 34, FSU 20

Despite attempts to bring ‘The U’ back, this was the final appearance of ‘The U’ in its original form. And in came shortly after the program’s historic 58-game home winning streak was snapped in a loss to Washington. As my future co-worker Mike Cobb wrote about the game in a column for the Lakeland Ledger, ‘for one night Miami was Miami again’. They were loud, brash and completely had FSU on tilt despite the Seminoles taking a 12-7 lead early in the second quarter. By this point it was clear that Warren Sapp was the best defensive lineman in the nation.

1995: FSU 41, Miami 17
1996: FSU 34, Miami 16
1997: FSU 47, Miami 0

NCAA sanctions had pretty much the Hurricanes as close to the death penalty as they could get. They were riding on about 60% of the normal allotment of scholarships. Meanwhile FSU was rolling…and I mean rolling. From 1995-1997 the Seminoles just lost four games. The 1995 game saw Deion Sanders get his jersey retired but the 1996 game stands out to me the most as FSU jumped out to a huge lead, 17-0 I believe and Miami got it back to 20-16 but the Seminoles just wore them down with the running game. Dunn and Rock Preston were just gashing the once formidable Hurricanes defense in the second half. 1997 was rock bottom for the Miami and FSU was more than happy to shovel dirt on the grave. The image of Scott Covington getting sent into the FSU goal post and knocked out is one that Seminole fans worldwide enjoy thinking about.

1998: FSU 26, Miami 14
1999: FSU 31, Miami 21

As FSU increased its streak to five over the Hurricanes there were clear signs of the rivalry returning back to form. The 1999 game was especially closer than expected as the Seminoles actually trailed 21-14 in the second quarter before running off 17 straight points to close things out and eventually win the program’s second national title. Kenny Kelly looked like Miami’s QB of the future in 1999, he out performed Chris Weinke for a while. Then he went on to baseball.

2000: Miami 27, FSU 24

Wide Right III is also one of the top 20 college football games in this era and a wildly entertaining show of offense and the character that both programs had. Miami led 17-0 at one point as the Seminoles would move the ball down the field but Chris Weinke would have a costly turnover. The second half, however, Weinke warmed up big time and led an impressive rally capped off by a touchdown pass to Atrews Bell with under four minutes remaining to take a 24-20 lead. But the college football game is long and Miami QB Ken Dorsey was up to the challenge and marched Miami down the field and finishing things up with a touchdown pass to Jeremy Shockey to take a 27-24 lead. But Weinke, who threw for 496 yards, was not finished and he got FSU in position for some walk-on named Matt Munyon to try a 47-yard field goal that I had a better chance of making.

2001: Miami 49, FSU 20

This game sort of marked the beginning of the end for the Bowden era at FSU. Coaching changes and complacency in recruiting took FSU out of the national discussion for the rest of his era. Meanwhile new Miami coach Larry Coker did what he did best – win with Butch Davis’ players. They were all pretty good…Clinton Portis, Willis McGahee, Ed Reed, Jon Vilma, Andre Johnson  Bryant McKinnie…yeah FSU had no hope. The Hurricanes would easily win the 2001 national championship.

2002: Miami 28, FSU 27

Wide Left is what this game is called but I mostly remember the yeoman’s effort that Greg Jones put forth. He had close to 150 yards rushing in the first half! FSU, fresh off of a loss to Louisville, was a decisive underdog but in this game expect the unexpected as the Seminoles were making easy work of Miami. When a Jones touchdown put the Seminoles up 27-14 I wondered to myself if they should have gone for two. Dorsey rallied the ‘Canes with over 300 yards but FSU had the last shot after Chris Rix made a couple of fluke plays to set up a straight down the middle field goal for Xavier Beitia, the former top-ranked kicker in the nation out of high school. Beitia hooked it wide left after the holder set up for the snap a yard behind where he was supposed to and the process was screwed up. Only in FSU-Miami.

2003: Miami 22, FSU 14
2003-04: Miami 16, FSU 14 (2004 Orange Bowl)
2004: Miami 16, FSU 10 OT

Chris Rix was probably the most polarizing player to come through the halls of the FSU program and his 0-5 record against Miami is a big reason for that. The other part is that fans and former teammates seem to give off the opinion that he was a bit of douche bag (I have no opinion on him either way). If you add the 2000 game when Rix redshirted FSU never won a game against Miami while he was in the program. Amazing. These three games are pretty nondescript otherwise. 2003 game was played in a rainy mess. The bowl game was notable for Jones trucking Sean Taylor and Beitia missing ANOTHER straight away field goal. Also Jarrett Payton had the best game of his career. The 2004 game really showed where both programs were headed as neither offense was very good and Rix imploded…again.

2005: FSU 10, Miami 7
2006: FSU 13, Miami 10

Remember what I said about the offenses not being very good in 2004. Well yeah this was the result after ABC/ESPN opened Labor Day with these non-classics. Actually the 2005 game is pretty fun because Kyle Wright took an absolute beating and Drew Weatherford completed like 7-of-24 passes yet was celebrated for it before the Seminoles finally got over the Hurricane hump. The 2005 game also had the Miami muff as the Hurricanes were in position to tie the game and surely send it to overtime but the snap on the field goal was muffed.  The 2006 game was just boring and a sad way to end the series at the Orange Bowl.

2007: Miami 37, FSU 29
2008: FSU 41, Miami 39

Two wildly-entertaining games as both programs were out of the national title picture and trying to rebuild. The 2007 game is memorable for Xavier Lee’s fourth-quarter implosion that would all but end his time at Florida State. The 2008 game was crazy as all this new talent like Christian Ponder, Robert Marve, Sean Spence, Dekoda Watson and Brandon Harris was on the field. And although they were young and raw, they were fast and exciting. FSU led 24-3 and as the rain poured down Miami got as close as 34-32 before Antone Smith’s fourth touchdown of the game sealed the deal. The general consensus was that both teams were on the rise but it would take a couple more years for FSU to get back in the top 15 and five more years for Miami.

2009: Miami 38, FSU 34

This was the first game I actually attended live and it was an epic showdown between two teams with horrible defenses. The duel between Jacory Harris and Christian Ponder was a good one and whatever plays were made on defense were done by Spence and Greg Reid. The game featured 10 lead changes as Miami rallied from a 23-14 third-quarter deficit to take a lead on Harris’ short touchdown run. FSU lead 34-31 when Harris struck against FSU’s weak secondary again. Still the Seminoles had the ball last and inside the five when Ponder’s pass to Jarmon Fortson bounced off his hands and to the turf as time expired. Harris threw for 386 yards on just 21 completions.

2010: FSU 45, Miami 17
2011: FSU 23, Miami 19
2012: FSU 33, Miami 20

The Jimbo Fisher era at FSU has begun with early ownership of the Hurricanes. The 2010 game was the one that all but ended Randy Shannon’s tenure at Miami. The Seminoles gashed the Hurricanes that night and their dominance was evident in one sequence of plays. Chris Thompson took a little toss counter sweep 80 yards for a touchdown but it was called back due to offensive holding. So Fisher calls the same play and Thompson rushes for a 90-yard touchdown that counted. The 2011 game was mostly known for the horrific officiating that forced the conference to apologize to both coaches during and after the game. The stigma of poor officiating in the ACC lingers to this date because of that game. Last year FSU made fairly easy work of an overmatched Miami squad. They weren’t necessarily impressive but did more than enough to win.

Final tally Miami 15, FSU 13. One thing that sticks out about this rivalry is there hasn’t been much back and forth. Both teams win in bunches. Still it’s one of the best games in college football and with both teams undefeated and playing in prime time it’s safe to say that this year the Miami-FSU rivalry is where both Seminole and Hurricane fans want it to be.