Top 5 Clemson-Florida State Games

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Ranking the Top 5 Clemson-Florida State Games

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Jeremy Brevard- USA TODAY Sports

My article yesterday was about how the Clemson-Florida State game has become the most storied rivalry in the ACC. The Tigers and Seminoles have packed trophy cases, countless players in the NFL, and have produced Hall of Fame caliber players. This Saturday night in Death Valley, the No. 5 Florida State Seminoles will take on the No. 3 Clemson Tigers for perhaps the biggest game in ACC history. The Seminoles have not won in Clemson since 2001, but this is a new year and their freshman quarterback Jameis Winston is more than capable of leading his team to a road win. The last time there was a top-5 game between ACC members was in 2005 when No. 5 Miami traveled to Blacksburg, VA to take on No. 3 Virginia Tech. Miami jumped out to a 27-0 lead and ended up winning by a final count of 27-7. VT quarterback Marcus Vick turned the ball over five times and the Virginia Tech offense could never get things going. There was a lot of hype surrounding that game, but it did not really live up to it as Miami dominated the game from start to finish.

The ACC clash this weekend has a great chance of living up to the hype, thanks to solid quarterback play, but also very talented defenses. Clemson’s Vic Beasley has nine sacks on the year for this much-improved Clemson defense. Florida State’s defense is led by their do-everything defensive back Lamarcus Joyner. Joyner does a little bit of everything for the Noles and has become the leader of that last line of defense.

Sticking with the theme of Clemson-Florida State, I thought it would be a good idea to countdown the top-5 games ever played between Clemson and Florida State. Although I am referencing games from the past, I am using pictures of current players from Clemson and Florida State because they will be the ones who will make their mark on the rivalry this year.

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5. 2003

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Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

This game ended up being the biggest upset in the rivalry’s history with Clemson winning 26-10. Florida State came into the game No. 3 in the polls, while Clemson was limping into the game after a 45-17 loss to Wake Forest. Tommy Bowden’s seat at Clemson was as hot as ever, but his team rallied around him and played a flawless football game. Clemson jumped out to a 13-0 halftime lead, but most of the Clemson fans were waiting for something bad to happen. However, in the third quarter Charlie Whitehurst found Derrick Hamilton for a 58-yard touchdown pass to give the Tigers a 23-3 lead, and the Tigers held on for the 26-10 win. The fans stormed the field, tore down the goal posts, and chanted “TOMMY” after that monumental win. The Tigers snapped an 11-game losing streak to the Seminoles, and it still remains one of the biggest wins in the school’s history.

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4. 1999

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Charles LeClaire- USA TODAY Sports

This game was also played in Death Valley, but it was the first time in Division 1 history that a father would be coaching against his own son. Bobby Bowden led his No. 1 Seminoles into Clemson to take on his son, Tommy Bowden, who was in his first season as Clemson’s head coach. However, it was the unranked Tigers who held a 14-3 halftime lead before the Seminoles came roaring back. Clemson’s Woody Dantzler had a rushing touchdown and also threw a seven-yard touchdown strike to Rod Gardner to give the Tigers the 11 point lead. The second half was a different story, though, as Florida State started to get into a rhythm on offense behind Chris Weinke and Peter Warrick. The game was tied 14-14 when Florida State kicker Sebastian Janikowski hit a field goal with 5:26 remaining in the game to give the Noles the lead. Clemson had a chance to tie the game, but with 1:57 left Clemson freshman kicker Tony Lazzara missed wide left. The 17-14 win for Florida State gave Bobby Bowden the first win in what became known as the Bowden Bowl.

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3. 2010

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Charles LeClaire- USA TODAY Sports

Both teams were unranked entering this 2010 game, but it still had Atlantic division title implications. Clemson running back Jamie Harper had a career game with 143 yards and a touchdown, but Clemson squandered too many opportunities in the red zone. Missed field goals and turnovers were Clemson’s downfall and Florida State was able to capitalize. Florida State starting quarterback Christian Ponder was injured and unable to play, but backup E.J. Manuel had himself a great game. Manuel finished the game with 210 passing yards and 71 rushing yards to lead his team. Clemson hit a field goal to tie the game 13-13 with 53 seconds left and the game seemed destined for overtime. However, Florida State was able to move quickly and got within field goal range to attempt a 55-yard field goal to win the game. Kicker Dustin Hopkins drilled the kick as time expired and Florida State won the game 16-13.

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2. 2006

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Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson came into this game off a heartbreaking loss to Boston College, while Florida State was No. 9 playing at home. Behind quarterback and Florida native, Will Proctor, Clemson was able to build a 20-9 lead in the third quarter, but Florida State started to mount a comeback. The Seminoles tied the game 20-20 early in the fourth quarter and the momentum had shifted towards the Florida State sideline. Clemson’s kicking game had been a disaster as they had an extra point blocked and returned for a conversion, as well as a field goal that was blocked and returned for a touchdown. The Tigers had the ball and were moving it towards midfield late in the game, but no Clemson fan wanted to attempt another kick with all the madness that had already occurred. As it turns out, they did not have to. With about a minute left in the game, Clemson snapped the ball before Florida State’s defense was ready, and running back James Davis took the hand-off and ran 47 yards all the way down to the Florida State four-yard line. With seven seconds left Davis scored the game-winning touchdown. The Tigers upset the Seminoles 27-20, and it marked the first time Clemson had won in Tallahassee in 17 years.

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1. 1988

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Melina Vastala-USA TODAY Sports

It is safe to say that the 1988 edition of this rivalry was the most entertaining and exciting. The Tigers were No. 3 and the Seminoles were No. 10 when they met on a rainy day in Clemson Memorial Stadium. This was a game of trick pays as Clemson wide receiver Chip Davis threw an option pass to wide receiver Gary Cooper for a 61-yard touchdown to give the Tigers an early lead. Florida State’s Deion Sanders returned a punt 76 yards for a touchdown, and the Seminoles held a 21-14 lead in the fourth quarter. Clemson responded with a touchdown run by running back Tracy Johnson to tie the game 21-21 with 2:32 left in the game. On the next possession Clemson stopped Florida State on third down, forcing a punt, but Bobby Bowden would call the most surprising play in college football history. The ball was snapped to upback Dayne Williams who snuck the ball in between the legs of LeRoy Butler. Butler ran 78 yards which set up the game-winning field goal for Florida State kicker Richie Andrews. Florida State won the game 24-21, and the “puntrooskie” play is still one of the most famous plays ever in college football.





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  • BL Lippert

    that’s funny…as an FSU fan I’d come up with a dramatically different list! Good stuff though