Historically FSU has been a top 20 college football program. But, if you look back and remember all the opportunities they have failed to cash in on, you will see there’s a lot more to the story. If things would have went swung their way just a few more times, the Florida State Seminoles from Tallahassee would be considered THE best football program in the land. When asked to name a football dynasty, one of the obvious answers is the Bobby Bowden-led Seminoles from 1987-2000. During that time, the ‘Noles never finished ranked lower than #4. It’s nice for a team to have 14 consecutive top 4 finishes. But, the Seminoles only won two national titles over that span. Lets take a look at that 14-year run and a few other years to really see how Florida State football always finishes just shy of the top.
Now the biggest thorns in FSU’s side to keep them from the glory of national titles were obviously Miami and Florida but there were some others that got in the way. Back in the 80′s and 90′s The Miami Hurricanes who were a thorn in everyone’s side really had Bobby Bowden’s number his whole career, especially in critical games which blew the chance for a FSU national title. It may have merely been by a point or two regardless Miami always got in the way.
1987: This is considered on of the best Seminole teams ever having 11 All Americans led by Deion Sanders. This was also the year that began the dynasty for the ‘Noles as they came into the season ranked #8. The Seminoles started the season hot ripping off 4 straight wins and even destroying Big 10 champion Michigan State 31-3. The very next week FSU ran into its toughest test of the year in the Miami Hurricanes ranked #3 at the time and would eventually win the national title. The Seminoles who found themselves trailing Miami 26-19 in the 4th quarter made a comeback to score a touchdown on the 42 second mark to make it a 26-25 game. The Seminoles went for the winning two point conversion only to have quarterback Danny McManus’s pass deflected in the end zone. Florida State managed to take care of business winning the rest of their regular season including destroying SEC champion #7 Auburn 34-6. Capping off the season defeating a high-powered Nebraska team capturing the Fiesta Bowl. Even with an amazing 11-1 Fiesta Bowl Championship season the Noles still finished #2 behind Miami.
The video above is all you need to know about the 1988 season for Florida State. The Seminoles opened up the season as the pre-season #1 team and made this music video before the season to flaunt it. The only problem is they should have waited to see what happened before bragging in the way of rap on how they would win it all in 1988. Not only did they open up the season as #1 they opened the season against rival Miami who was the defending national title, and the above video must have angered them. The Hurricanes humiliated Florida State 31-0 ending any chance they had at a national title. Florida State did their usual murders row after that game defeating 11 straight opponents finishing 11-1 Sugar Bowl Champions.
1991: Once again the Seminoles were preseason #1 and for the first 10 games they played like it. FSU was blowing out opponents left and right not one team in the first 10 games came within single digits of Florida State. I would also like to mention that whoever made Florida State’s schedule that year should have been fired for having Miami and Florida back to back as the last two games of the season. Florida State once again lost to Miami by one point but this game was the origin of “Wide Right”. Florida State kicker Gerry Thomas missed a chip shot 34 yard field goal at the last-minute. The following week a physically drained and emotionally drained FSU headed to Gainesville to play the #5 Florida Gators. The stingy gator defense held FSU to only one touchdown beating the ‘Noles 14-9. Even with the loss against UF if that one field goal would have made it the ‘Noles would have replaced Miami as national champions as they were a one loss national champion that year. Instead FSU finished 11-2 Cotton Bowl Champions.
1992: “WIDE RIGHT II” Same story, different kicker. Florida State once again had an amazing season going 11-1 ACC and Orange Bowl Champions. BUT once again the Miami Hurricanes got in the way of glory for Bobby Bowden and his ‘Noles. A new kicker for Florida State that year Dan Mowrey missed the tying field goal when time expired. Florida State went on to beat 5 top 25 ranked teams but Miami got the chance at the national title but lossed to Alabama. Most thought that year that Florida State matched up a lot better against Miami did and we all know the transitive property does not work for college football.
1996: The 96 season was a very weird one for college football. If I told you FSU beat every team on its schedule that year you would think for sure they were national champions but were not. The Seminoles won most of their first 11 games handily but ran into #1 Florida Gators. This was one of the biggest and best games ever played at Doak Campbell featuring the #1 and #2 teams. Florida State managed to beat the #1 high powered Florida Gators led by Heisman trophy winner Danny Wurffel. Then the Noles ran into bad luck because at the time there was no BCS to matchup the #1 and #2 ranked teams for the national title. Which sent #2 Arizona State to the Rose bowl since back then the Pac-10 champion always went there no matter what. Which left #3 UF looking for revenge in the Sugar Bowl against FSU. “The ol’ ball coach” Steve Spurrier made the necessary adjustments blowing out #1 FSU 50-24 and with a ASU loss to Ohio State in the Rose bowl allowed for the gators to be voted as national champions. FSU finished 12-1 ACC Champions beating everyone on their schedule but without the national title.
1997: This was the one FSU team that definitely should have won the national title but did not. Once again same story FSU ran through the first 11 games winning most decisively until the met again rival The Florida Gators. The team that cost them the national title the year before and did the same this year. Beating FSU with a touchdown in the last minute 32-29. FSU finished the season 11-1 ACC Champions, and a Sugar Bowl win but no national title.
National Title games lost
1996: #1 FSU 20 – #3 UF 54
1998: #2 FSU 16 – #1 Tenn. 23
2000: #2 FSU 2 – #1 Oklahoma 13
1979: FSU was not well-known but by the end of the year the media was giving FSU respect and maybe a shot at winning a split national title with Alabama if they finished undefeated. It was a #4 FSU vs. #5 Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl and the Bobby Bowden coached could not get it done losing 24-7.