Notre Dame vs. Florida State Football: A Look at the History of the Series

By Matt Heinz

Notre Dame vs. Florida State Football: A Look at the History of the Series

Notre Dame vs. Florida State Football: A Look Inside The Series History
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame and Florida State are two of the most recognizable brands in college football and having them both back in the top five is great for college football. Notre Dame is 2-5 against Florida State, but both of those wins came when the Irish were undefeated. This year's game will be huge for determining who will make the playoff. Let's look at the history of this series.

1981: No. 20 Florida State vs Unranked Notre Dame at South Bend

The first ever meeting between the two powerhouses came in 1981 during Gerry Faust's first year of a very unsuccessful coaching stint at Notre Dame. Bobby Bowden was in his sixth year as the leader of the Seminoles and Florida State finished a disappointing 6-5 in 1981. Bowden reflected on that game by saying: "I remember it's a place in your career you hope that some day you'll get to go there and play.'' FSU used that win over the premier team in college football at the time to boost its program. Florida State 19, Notre Dame 13.

1993: 1. Florida State vs. 2. Notre Dame in "The Game of The Century" at South Bend

The "Game of The Century" was actually the first time ever that ESPN sent Lee Corso and Chris Fowler to a campus before a game because there was so much hype surrounding this game. The Seminoles had the Heisman winner that year in Charlie Ward (who went on to a productive NBA career with the Knicks) and linebacker Derrick Brooks. Notre Dame was led by a stout defense and QB Kevin McDougal. The game came down to the final play in which Shawn Wooden batted down Ward's 15-yard pass attempt near the end zone. ND lost the next week to Boston College and both teams won their bowl games. Even though both finished with one loss, FSU was somehow crowned national champions. Notre Dame 31, Florida State 24.

1994: No. 8 Florida State vs Unranked Notre Dame at Orlando

The game was played at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, in which the crowd was dominated by tomahawk chops. Cornerback Bobby Taylor forced a fumble on Danny Kanell and picked it up and ran it back for a score. Lou Holtz's Irish entered 1994 as No. 2 in the preseason AP poll, but finished a very disappointing 6-5 to end unranked. Due to the national brand that is Notre Dame, the Fiesta Bowl still chose the four-loss Irish to play Kordell Stewart and the No. 4 ranked Colorado Buffaloes. FSU finished 10-1-1 that year. Florida State 23, Notre Dame 16.

1996 Orange Bowl: No. 7 Florida State vs. No. 6 Notre Dame at Miami

Starting QB Ron Powlus was injured and the Irish were forced to start Thomas Krug. Luckily for Krug, he had one of the best WRs in the nation in Derrick Mayes. Florida State had honorable mention All-American QB Danny Kanell who threw for four TD passes. Behind Kanell and RB Warrick Dunn, the Seminoles scored 17 fourth-quarter points to complete the comeback. This game is included in FSU's incredible stretch of 14-straight years finishing in the top five of the AP Poll. Florida State 31, Notre Dame 26.

2002: No. 11 Florida State vs No. 6 Notre Dame at Tallahassee

In front of ESPN's College Gameday crew, Notre Dame came in and shocked the country by beating FSU despite being double-digit underdogs. Bowden had this now infamous quote to say after the game: "[T]hey kept us bumfuzzled all day with their alignments and things.'' On Notre Dame's first play from scrimmage, Carlyle Holiday hit Arnaz Battle for a 65-yard touchdown pass and Battle even got flagged for taunting the crowd with an anti-tomahawk chop sign. First-year coach Tyrone Willingham had NDnation on top of the world at 8-0, but lost the next week to Boston College (again). Notre Dame 34, Florida State 24.

2003: No. 5 Florida State vs. Unranked Notre Dame at South Bend

The Irish, playing with freshman Brady Quinn, gained only one first down the entire first half. I was at this game and will never forget in the third quarter, after a completion to Maurice Stovall resulted in just the second first down of the game, the fans gave the woeful Irish offense a standing ovation, mocking the offense. Chris Rix of Florida State threw for 327 yards and three scores to push Notre Dame to 2-6 a year after Tyrone Willingham was named National Coach of the Year. Florida State 37, Notre Dame 0.

2011: No. 25 Florida State vs. Unranked Notre Dame In The Citrus Bowl at Orlando

Florida State was playing with the future 16th overall pick of the 2013 NFL Draft at quarterback in E.J. Manuel while Notre Dame was rotating the far less talented Tommy Rees and Andrew Hendrix. The story of 2011 for the Irish was turnovers and that is what cost them against the Seminoles on this night. Rees and Hendrix combined to throw three interceptions as Notre Dame blew a 14-0 early lead. This game featured a lot of talented players as Notre Dame reached the national xhampionship game the next year and Florida State won it in 2013. Florida State 18, Notre Dame 14.


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