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10 most memorable games in history of Florida vs. Florida State rivalry

Rivalry has swung on pendulum throughout series, with both teams trading winning streaks

Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow tries to escape from Florida State's Markus White and Kevin McNeil in the second half against the Seminoles at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Nov. 28, 2009, in Gainesville, Florida. (Associated Press)

As Florida State and Florida prepare to do battle once more, Local10.com takes a look back at some of the most memorable games in the history of the rivalry.


First meeting: Florida Gators 21, Florida State Seminoles 7, Nov. 22, 1958

All-time series: Florida Gators 35, Florida State Seminoles 26, 2 ties

Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden shows the national championship trophy to wide receiver Peter Warrick after the Seminoles beat Virginia Tech 46-29 in the Sugar Bowl, Jan. 4, 2000, in New Orleans. Florida State became the first team to be ranked No. 1 all season long in The Associated Press poll.

Longest win streak: Florida Gators, 1968-76 (9)

Current win streak: Florida Gators, 2018


No. 1 Florida State Seminoles (10-1) 33, No. 7 Florida Gators (9-1) 21

Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field, Gainesville, Florida

Nov. 27, 1993

Florida State quarterback Charlie Ward flashes the victory sign as he leaves the field after the Seminoles defeated the Florida Gators 33-21, Nov. 27, 1993, in Gainesville, Florida.

The Seminoles handed Florida its first loss at home under head coach Steve Spurrier. Florida State senior quarterback Charlie Ward, who went on to win the Heisman Memorial Trophy, amassed 475 yards of total offense, completing 38 of 53 pass attempts for 446 yards and four touchdowns. The Seminoles took a 13-0 lead before Florida got on the scoreboard with an 11-yard touchdown pass from freshman quarterback Danny Wuerffel to senior wide receiver Willie Jackson with 7:20 to go in the first half. Florida trailed 27-7 in the fourth quarter, but the Gators wouldn't go down that easily. Junior quarterback Terry Dean, who replaced an ineffective Wuerffel, threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Jackson, closing the gap to 27-13. The Seminoles appeared poised to score again, driving 57 yards to the Florida 9-yard line, but junior fullback William Floyd fumbled and the Gators recovered. Sophomore wide receiver Jack Jackson caught a 31-yard touchdown pass with 5:52 left in the game, cutting FSU's lead to six points. Facing a third-and-10 at FSU's own 21-yard line, Ward eluded a pair of Florida defenders as he rolled to his left on the play-action fake and threw to true freshman running back Warrick Dunn, who sprinted 79 yards along the FSU sideline for the game-winning touchdown. Florida State's defense was stifling, recording six quarterback sacks and holding the Gators to a school-record minus-33 rushing yards. Spurrier had won 23 consecutive games in "The Swamp," where Florida hadn't lost since a 24-17 decision against the Seminoles in 1989 -- the season before Spurrier returned to his alma mater.


No. 4 Florida Gators (9-1) 31, No. 7 Florida State Seminoles (9-1) 31

Doak S. Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, Florida

Nov. 26, 1994

Florida State cornerback Corey Fuller jumps up for the ball during a game against the Florida Gators at Doak S. Campbell Stadium, Nov. 26, 1994, in Tallahassee, Florida. The game ended in a 31-31 tie.

This was the tie that Florida State fans will forever say felt like a win and Florida fans will forever say felt like a loss. Florida led 24-3 at halftime and 31-3 headed into the fourth quarter. Then Florida State took over, tying the NCAA record for a fourth-quarter comeback in the game that Florida State fans affectionately refer to as the “Choke at Doak.” Senior fullback Zack Crockett barreled into the end zone from 5 yards out to cut the lead to 31-10 with 12:59 remaining. After forcing Florida to punt on its next series, the Seminoles took over at the FSU 40-yard line and trimmed the score to 31-17 on a 6-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Danny Kanell to sophomore wide receiver Andre Cooper with 10:04 remaining. The Seminoles forced the Gators to punt again and Kanell led his team on another scoring drive, culminating with his 3-yard rushing touchdown with 5:25 remaining. It was now a one-possession game. Florida State sophomore cornerback James Colzie made a diving interception of a pass from Florida’s Danny Wuerffel to set up the final score -- a 5-yard touchdown run from junior tailback Rock Preston. The extra point by senior kicker Dan Mowrey tied the game at 31 apiece. The game ultimately led the NCAA to institute overtime, beginning with the 1996 season.


No. 7 Florida State Seminoles (9-1-1) 23, No. 5 Florida Gators (10-1-1) 17

Sugar Bowl, Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans

Jan. 1, 1995

Florida State quarterback Danny Kanell hugs running back Warrick Dunn after his second-quarter touchdown pass to Omar Ellison in the Sugar Bowl, Jan. 2, 1995, in New Orleans. The Seminoles beat the Florida Gators 23-17.

After tying in the previous meeting a little more than a month earlier, the Seminoles settled the score against the Gators with a 23-17 win in the first-ever bowl game between the rivals. Dubbed the “Fifth Quarter in the French Quarter,” the Sugar Bowl was the backdrop for the game that kept Florida State’s streak of consecutive 10-or-more-win seasons alive. Florida’s Judd Davis and Florida State’s Dan Mowrey traded field goals in the first quarter, which ended with the game tied 3-3. The Seminoles stripped the football from Florida freshman running back Fred Taylor, setting up the first of three FSU scores in the second quarter. FSU’s Warrick Dunn completed his first collegiate pass on a trick play, connecting with senior wide receiver ‘OMar Ellison for a 10-3 lead. Senior wide receiver Kez McCorvey caught a 16-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Danny Kanell later in the quarter to put the Seminoles ahead 17-3. However, Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel retaliated with an 82-yard touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver Ike Hilliard for the Gators’ first trip to the end zone. Mowrey’s 24-yard field goal gave the Seminoles a 20-10 halftime lead. The only points of the third quarter came on Mowrey’s career-long 45-yard field goal, giving the Seminoles a 23-10 lead. Florida got back in the game in the fourth quarter after Wuerffel, who was sacked five times in the game, directed a 17-play, 80-yard drive that ended when the sophomore scored on a 1-yard sneak to bring the Gators within six with 3:47 left to play. The Gators got the ball back with 2:27 remaining and one last chance to win it, but senior linebacker Derrick Brooks intercepted a Wuerffel pass to seal the victory for the Seminoles. It was the eighth consecutive season that the Seminoles finished with at least 10 wins and ranked among the top four in the country. Dunn, playing in his home state of Louisiana, was the game’s MVP.


No. 2 Florida State Seminoles (10-0) 24, No. 1 Florida Gators (10-0)

Doak S. Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, Florida

Nov. 30, 1996

Florida State Seminoles running back Warrick Dunn moves the ball during a game against the Florida Gators at Doak S. Campbell Stadium on Nov. 30, 1996, in Tallahassee, Florida. The Seminoles won the game 24-21.

For only the fourth time in college football history, the No. 1 and No. 2 teams met in a regular-season finale when the top-ranked and undefeated Gators came to Tallahassee favored against the second-ranked and undefeated Seminoles. Florida State got off to a quick start when safety Shevin Smith intercepted Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel in the end zone on the Gators’ opening drive. The Seminoles took over and scored the first points of the game on a 26-yard field goal by senior kicker Scott Bentley. Defensive end Peter Boulware blocked Florida’s first punt of the game on its next possession, setting up a 3-yard touchdown run from fullback Pooh Bear Williams to give the Seminoles a 10-0 lead. Another defensive stand and a big pass from junior quarterback Thad Busby to freshman wide receiver Peter Warrick set up another FSU touchdown 32 seconds later. Busby’s 1-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Melvin Pearsall gave FSU a 17-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. Wuerffel threw three interceptions in the first half, but the senior quarterback rallied his team in the next 15 minutes as the Gators outscored FSU 14-0 in the second quarter. Wuerffel threw a pair of touchdown passes to sophomore wide receiver Jacquez Green, but the Gators missed a potential game-tying 53-yard field goal on the last play of the half. After a scoreless third quarter, the Gators missed another field goal -- this one from 43 yards out -- that would have tied the game in the fourth quarter. When the Seminoles got the ball back, they went on an 11-play, 75-yard drive to take a 24-14 lead. Williams scored on a 1-yard plunge on the last of three straight carries during the drive. Wuerffel, who went on to win the Heisman Memorial Trophy, connected with junior wide receiver Reidel Anthony in the end zone, cutting FSU’s lead to 24-21 with 2:28 left, but the Seminoles ran out the clock to preserve its undefeated season. Wuerffel was sacked six times and knocked to the turf several times throughout the game, prompting Florida head coach Steve Spurrier to accuse the Seminoles, who led the Atlantic Coast Conference in penalties, of deliberating trying to injure his quarterback. The win assured FSU of a spot in the Sugar Bowl to play for the national championship. There the Seminoles would face a familiar foe in an unlikely rematch.


No. 3 Florida Gators (11-1) 52, No. 1 Florida State Seminoles (11-0) 20

Sugar Bowl, Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans

Jan. 2, 1997

Florida State Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden congratulates Florida Gators coach Steve Spurrier after the Gators won 52-20 in the Sugar Bowl, Jan. 2, 1997, in New Orleans.

The third-ranked Gators got their payback in a 52-20 rout of No. 1 Florida State in the Sugar Bowl to give Florida its first national championship in school history, just 33 days after having their title hopes dashed with a 24-21 loss to the Seminoles. Heisman Memorial Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel threw three touchdown passes to junior wide receiver Ike Hilliard and scored on a 16-yard run on the way to the lopsided victory. The Seminoles only trailed 10-3 at the end of the first quarter and 24-17 at halftime, but their offensive threat was missing for most of the second half. Warrick Dunn, playing his last game for the Seminoles, was responsible for Florida State’s lone touchdown -- a 12-yard run in the second quarter to keep the game within reach -- but he was hobbled by cramps and carried the ball just once after the break. Florida State senior kicker Scott Bentley notched a 45-yard field goal for the first points of the second half, cutting Florida’s lead to 24-20, but it would be the last time the Seminoles would score. Wuerffel, who had been sacked six times in the earlier meeting, operated mainly out of the shotgun this time, completing 18 of 34 passes for 306 yards. FSU linebacker Daryl Bush and defensive end Peter Boulware were battling the flu and received intravenous fluids during the game. The 52-20 defeat was the largest loss by a No. 1 team in a bowl. The loss also ended an NCAA-record 11-game bowl winning streak and 14-game unbeaten streak in bowl games for FSU.


No. 10 Florida Florida Gators (8-2) 32, No. 1 Florida State Seminoles (10-0) 29

Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field, Gainesville, Florida

Nov. 22, 1997

Florida Gators wide receiver Jacquez Green in action during a game against the Florida State Seminoles at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Nov. 22, 1997, in Gainesville, Florida. The Gators won the game 32-29.

The 10th-ranked Gators played the role of spoiler against top-ranked Florida State, knocking their rivals out of national championship contention with a 32-29 victory in the regular-season finale for both teams. Florida State appeared to be on its way to a second straight perfect regular season when kicker Sebastian Janikowski drilled a 20-yard field goal to give the Seminoles a 29-25 lead with 2:38 left to play. But the Gators found a way to pull it out in “The Swamp.” Sophomore quarterback Doug Johnson found junior wide receiver Jacquez Green on a 63-yard pass on the first play after the Gators got the football back. That set up a 1-yard touchdown run by senior Fred Taylor -- his fourth score of the game -- two plays later to put the Gators back on top. Florida scored on its opening possession but missed the extra point to take a 6-0 lead. The Seminoles then scored 17 unanswered points off a 15-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown by senior linebacker Sam Cowart, a 28-yard field goal by Janikowski and a 5-yard touchdown catch by tight end Melvin Pearsall. Momentum swung in Florida’s favor again just before halftime as the Gators scored twice in the second quarter to reclaim the lead. Johnson connected with junior receiver Travis McGriff on a 6-yard touchdown pass, and Taylor scampered into the end zone with 4:13 left before halftime. Janikowski nailed a 31-yard field goal with 10:32 left in the third quarter, giving the Seminoles a 20-18 lead, but Taylor raced 61 yards for a touchdown on Florida’s next possession to give the Gators a 25-20 advantage. Florida State freshman running back Travis Minor scored from 18 yards out with 5:24 left in the third quarter, but the Seminoles failed to convert a two-point attempt. Janikowski then tacked on FSU’s final three points late in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough. The Gators alternated between senior Noah Brindise and sophomore Doug Johnson on almost every play as the quarterbacks combined for 336 passing yards. Taylor finished with 162 rushing yards -- the most allowed by FSU’s defense all season -- and four touchdowns in what many Florida fans consider to be the greatest game ever played at “The Swamp.”


No. 5 Florida State Seminoles (10-1) 23, No. 4 Florida Gators (9-1) 12

Doak S. Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, Florida

Nov. 21, 1998

Florida State quarterback Marcus Outzen in action during the game against the Florida Gators at Doak S. Campbell Stadium on Nov. 21, 1998, in Tallahassee, Florida. The Seminoles defeated the Gators 23-12.

The Seminoles rallied from a 12-6 halftime deficit to shut out the Gators in the second half en route to a 23-12 victory. Florida scored its only points on a 50-yard touchdown pass, a safety and a 22-yard field goal after the safety. But the first blow may have been dealt before kickoff. A fracas before the game resulted in the ejection of three players after the Gators gathered at midfield to stomp on the head of the FSU mascot. As a result, Florida starting cornerback Tony George and FSU backups Josh Baggs and Ronald Boldin were ejected. After Florida’s lone touchdown, sophomore kicker Sebastian Janikowski got Florida State its first points on a 36-yard field goal. The Gators led 7-3 at the end of the first quarter, but Janikowski’s 42-yard field goal in the second quarter cut Florida’s lead to a point. Later in the quarter, sophomore quarterback Marcus Outzen, who was starting just his second game after a season-ending injury to Chris Weinke, was sacked and fumbled on a third-down play in Florida State’s own end zone, giving the Gators a safety. Florida tacked on its final points before halftime on a 22-yard field goal by freshman Jeff Chandler. Junior wide receiver Peter Warrick caught a touchdown pass and threw for another to lead Florida State’s second-half comeback. Outzen completed 13 of 22 passes for 167 yards, including the 32-yard pass to Warrick that gave the Seminoles a lead they would never give up at 13-12 with 3:29 left in the third quarter. Sophomore running back Travis Minor led FSU on the ground with 127 yards on 30 carries. Minor’s 46-yard touchdown run was called back for holding, but Warrick took a reverse on the next play and threw a 46-yard touchdown strike to fellow receiver Run Dugans to give the Seminoles a 20-12 lead with 13:30 left to play. Janikowksi sealed the win with a 41-yard field goal with 4:31 remaining. FSU’s defense didn’t allow Florida to convert a third down all game and held the Gators to just 204 yards of total offense -- their lowest output in eight years. Gators quarterback Doug Johnson threw three interceptions and completed just 13 of his 36 passes attempted. The Seminoles, meanwhile, went on to play for the national championship, losing to top-ranked Tennessee, which handed Florida its only other loss of the season, in the Fiesta Bowl.


No. 3 Florida State Seminoles (10-1) 30, No. 4 Florida Gators (9-1) 7

Doak S. Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, Florida

Nov. 18, 2000

Florida State's Randy Golightly celebrates on the field as he lifts a gator head after the game against the Florida Gators at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Florida. The Seminoles defeated the Gators 30-7.

Florida State broke a 7-7 tie late in the first quarter on the way to a 30-7 victory against rival Florida, propelling the third-ranked Seminoles to their third straight national championship game appearance. Senior quarterback Chris Weinke fought off the flu and threw for 353 yards and three touchdowns -- two of them to senior wide receiver Snoop Minnis -- as the Seminoles held the Gators scoreless through the final three quarters of the game. After forcing Florida to punt on the first series, the Seminoles took over. Weinke went to work, completing 6 of 8 passes for 70 yards -- the final one a 17-yard touchdown toss to junior receiver Atrews Bell. The Gators came right back on their next possession to tie the game on a 5-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Jesse Palmer to tight end Aaron Walker. The tie was broken 56 seconds later when Weinke found Bell for 42 yards and, on the next play, connected with Minnis for a 34-yard touchdown pass. Florida trailed just 14-7 at halftime, but the Seminoles reeled off 23 unanswered points behind Weinke’s cannon arm. Turnovers and penalties kept the Gators from capitalizing. Florida was penalized 14 times for 116 yards. Palmer was 17 of 30 for 180 yards and two interceptions. Rex Grossman, who took the first snap and didn’t return until the game was decided in the fourth quarter, also threw an interception. The freshman finished 10 of 16 for 98 yards. Senior cornerback Tay Cody picked off each of the quarterbacks, and junior safety Chris Hope ended another Florida drive. Weinke had been hospitalized with flu-like symptoms hours before he took the field. The 28-year-old went on to become the oldest player to win the Heisman Memorial Trophy. Florida head coach Steve Spurrier fell to 0-5-1 in Tallahassee.


No. 9 Florida State Seminoles (9-2) 38, No. 11 Florida Gators (8-3) 34

Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field, Gainesville, Florida

Nov. 29, 2003

Florida State quarterback Chris Rix congratulates tight end Matt Henshaw after Henshaw caught a touchdown pass during the game against the Florida Gators on Nov. 29, 2003 at "The Swamp" in Gainesville, Florida.

P.K. Sam caught a 52-yard touchdown with less than a minute to go as No. 9 Florida State outlasted No. 11 Florida in a 38-34 victory, giving the Seminoles their third win in Gainesville in their last six trips. Junior quarterback Chris Rix set up the game-winning touchdown pass -- his third scoring throw of the day -- with a fourth-and-14 competition to wide receiver Dominic Robinson one play earlier. The Seminoles led 7-3 at the end of the first quarter when Rix found Robinson on a 35-yard touchdown pass with 1:46 remaining in the period. Rix’s second touchdown was a 20-yard strike to tight end Matt Henshaw with 5:02 left before halftime. Florida State held the Gators to a pair of field goals in the first half as the Seminoles took a 17-6 lead going into the break. The Gators rallied in the third quarter, outscoring Florida State 18-7 to tie the game at 24 apiece headed into the final quarter. Highlighting Florida’s comeback was a 77-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown by senior cornerback Keiwan Ratliff to give the Gators a 24-17 lead. FSU sophomore linebacker Pat Watkins returned the favor with his own 25-yard scoop and score that tied the game. There were four lead changes in the fourth quarter, starting with Florida’s 28-yard field goal. Rix scored on a 1-yard touchdown plunge with 5:01 remaining to put the Seminoles back on top, but Florida reclaimed the lead when freshman quarterback Chris Leak connected with tight end Ben Troupe on a 26-yard touchdown pass in the back of the end zone with 2:55 left. That’s when Rix, who threw for 256 yards on only 19 attempts, orchestrated the game-winning drive. Leak threw for 273 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught a 30-yard pass from receiver Andre Caldwell, one of several Florida gadget plays that worked. FSU ended Florida’s five-game winning streak. A brawl between the teams broke out at midfield as FSU head coach Bobby Bowden and Florida head coach Ron Zook met to shake hands after the game was over. Florida fans who blamed the Atlantic Coast Conference officiating crew for missing several critical calls still refer to the game as the “Swindle in the Swamp.”


Florida Gators (6-4) 20, No. 10 Florida State Seminoles (8-2)

Bobby Bowden Field at Doak S. Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, Florida

Nov. 20, 2004

Florida Gators head coach Ron Zook gets carried off the field after his team's 20-13 win over the Florida State Seminoles at Doak S. Campbell Stadium on Nov. 20, 2004, in Tallahassee, Florida.

The Gators did something under ousted head coach Ron Zook that they couldn’t under his predecessor. They beat Florida State in Tallahassee. Sophomore quarterback Chris Leak threw a touchdown, junior running back Ciatrick Fason ran for a score and unraked Florida upset the 10th-ranked Seminoles 20-13 to win in Tallahassee for the first time since 1986. The Gators never trailed, leading 7-0 at the end of the first quarter and 10-3 at halftime. Embattled FSU quarterback Chris Rix came off the bench late in the third quarter and threw a touchdown pass with 8:30 to play that cut Florida’s lead to 13-10. Playing his last game at home, the senior quarterback rolled right and heaved a pass into the end zone that senior wide receiver Chauncey Stovall caught for a 27-yard touchdown. Fason’s 8-yard touchdown run with 4:59 remaining put the Gators ahead for good. Rix drove the Seminoles into field goal range on his first possession in the third quarter, but freshman Gary Cismesia missed a 32-yard field-goal attempt. Cismesia, who had been perfect in seven tries since replacing senior Xavier Beitia midway through the season, also missed from 39 yards out on the first play of the fourth quarter. Beitia redeemed himself with a career-high 52-yard field goal with 3:48 remaining. The Gators were forced to punt, giving the Seminoles little time to score. Rix drove the Seminoles to the 18-yard line in the waning seconds, but his last pass was intercepted with 8 seconds to play. Zook, who was fired but allowed to finish out the remainder of the regular season, was carried off the field by his players. Not even Steve Spurrier, who was 0-5-1 in six trips to Tallahassee, experienced what it was like to leave the capital city victorious. The Gators also spoiled a special night for Bobby Bowden. FSU honored the longtime Seminoles head coach by naming the playing field at Doak S. Campbell Stadium for him.


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