Two words. The Florida State–Miami game made two simple words synonymous with the Sunshine State rivalry. “Wide Right” became part of everyday college football talk in large part because of the games that were played between the Seminoles and the Hurricanes. This weekend Florida State will host Miami in a top-10 battle that will have conference and national championship implications surrounding it. For the past 30 years, this game has been the most nationally relevant game in college football, with Miami leading the all-time series 31-26. Both schools have produced some of the games greatest players on the college and professional level and both have won multiple national championships. The meeting between the two programs this weekend will be the 24th time that both schools are ranked in the top-20 and the 14th time that both schools are ranked in the top-10. Those numbers alone display how relevant this game has been, and the two schools have even met six times as top-5 opponents.
Perhaps more important than the records, rankings or trophies, are the memories that these teams gave the world during their epic clashes for state pride. In 1991 No. 1 Florida State hosted No. 2 Miami in a late November showdown which would basically end up being a national championship semifinal. Miami got a big game from quarterback Gino Torretta and running back Stephen McGuire to help the Hurricanes stay close before they finally took the lead on Larry Jones‘ touchdown run to make the score 17-16 with just under three minutes left in the game. However, Casey Weldon led the Seminoles into field goal range to attempt a field goal with under a minute left to play. Florida State kicker Gerry Thomas got plenty of distance on the kick, but the ball pushed inches right of the goal post setting off a celebration of Hurricane players on Bobby Bowden‘s home field. Miami went on the win the national championship, thanks in large part to “Wide Right 1.”
Hall of Fame broadcaster Keith Jackson said “’91 may have been good, but ’92 ain’t bad” before the ’92 game even started. This time had No. 2 Miami hosting No. 3 Florida State in the historic Orange Bowl Stadium, again with national championship implications on the line. Miami’s pass rush was relentless, sacking and forcing Charlie Ward into multiple turnovers all game. The Hurricanes took the lead late when Torretta found Lamar Thomas streaking down the sideline for a touchdown, and after Miami recorded a safety, they led 19-16 before Florida State lined up for a potential game-tying field goal attempt. Florida State kicker Dan Mowrey struck the 39-yard attempt, but for the second year in a row the ball floated wide right. The field goal attempt was the last play of the game, and “Wide Right 2” was even more painful than “Wide Right 1” for Seminole fans.
Florida State dominated the series for the next few years, but in 2000 Miami was a national power once again. Florida State was seeking their second straight national championship behind Heisman trophy winner Chris Weinke and entered the game No. 1 in the nation. The Hurricanes were not far behind at No. 7 led by Ken Dorsey and Santana Moss. The game was an instant classic as Miami was determined to win on their home field, but Florida State kept fighting back. With 46 seconds left in the game, Dorsey hit Jeremy Shockey to put the Canes up 27-24, but Weinke got his team within field goal range with less than 10 seconds left on the clock. However, wide right reared its ugly head again as Florida State kicker Matt Munyon missed a 49-yrader, sealing the win for the Hurricanes. Ironically, in 2002 Miami was up 28-27 when Florida State missed a field goal as time expired, but this time it was wide left.
“Wide Right 1,2, and 3” as well as “Wide Left” were heartbreaking for Florida State fans, but it gave college football some of its most memorable moments. Growing up in Florida, these were some of my favorite games to watch because there was always so much on the line every time they met. After some down years, Florida State and Miami finally meet again in a big game. Florida State is everybody’s choice to win, but this rivalry always has a surprise or two up its sleeve.
Travis Patterson, Writer For ACC Rantsports.com. Follow on Twitter @tpat20. https://twitter.com/tpat20