Well, we come to the end of our journey -- the Top 10 individual offensive game performances in FSU history. In case you missed it, here are the 10 honorable mentions and here are "the next 21" that didn’t make the cut.
Remember, this is about a combination of statistical performance, game importance and intangibles. Oh, and I guess the other part of the equation is my own biases.
Anyway, let the debating (or is it yawning?) begin!
Dec. 23, 1977. Larry Key. In his final game as FSU (before moving on to an illustrious career in the CFL), Key ran a kick back 93 yards for a touchdown, had 100 RECEIVING yards on 6 catches and carried the ball 21 times for 83 yards as FSU walloped Texas Tech 40-17 in the Tangerine Bowl. FSUED Musings: I was at this game, jingling my Dad’s key’s for Larry Key every time he touched the ball. A classic early Bowden-era player – not blessed with extraordinary physical skills, but perfect for a wide-open offense and utilized to his fullest.
Jan. 1, 1988. Danny McManus. FSU rallied from a 14-0 Fiesta Bowl deficit to Nebraska and won 31-28 when McManus hit Ronald Lewis on a 15-yard post pattern with under 4 minutes to play. McManus finished the day with 375 yards passing and three touchdowns. FSUED musings: It’s hard to explain why this win was so big, but the program reached another level when McManus led us to victory.
Sept. 28, 1991. Amp Lee. The top-ranked Seminoles went into Ann Arbor and taught the Michigan Wolverines about southern speed football. Amp Lee led the way with 122 yards rushing and two touchdown on 20 carries and 79 yards receiving. FSUED Musings: This was a Keith Jackson-called game when he was in his prime. My two favorites: " … and McIntosh was like a locomotive going downhill." Also: "Florida State was laying there waiting for it and Terrell Buckley has scored a touchdown. How do you do!"
Jan. 2. 1965. Fred Biletnikoff, Steve Tensi. It’s impossible to separate these two in the 1965 Gator Bowl, a 36-19 FSU thrashing of Oklahoma. Tensi threw five touchdown passes – four of them to Freddie B. – as the Noles racked up 520 total yards against the vaunted Sooners. Tensi’s final stats: 23 of 36 for 303 yards and 4 touchdowns. Biletnikoff: 13 catches for 192 yards and 4 TDs. FSUED musings: ABC announcer and former Cleveland Brown George Ratterman said: "The boy is the greatest college receiver I've ever seen. He and Tensi put on one of the greatest passing performances that I believe I've ever seen college or professional." As McGrotha put it: It was the greatest passing show in the history of not only the Gator Bowl but any bowl up to that point." Remember, 300 yard passing games weren’t exactly commonplace in this era.
Sept. 20 1997. Peter Warrick. This thrilling 35-28 win over Clemson in Death Valley was Warrick’s breakout game – 8 catches for 249 yards and two touchdowns, then four punt returns for 123 yards, including a 90-yard TD return. FSUED musings: AP’s story called him a "one-man wrecking crew." Sounds about right.
Oct. 31, 1981. Greg Allen. Yes, stats aren’t everything. And Western Carolina is hardly Nebraska, but at some point, the numbers don’t lie. Allen rushed for a NCAA freshman record 322 yards on 32 carries AND ran a kickoff back 95 yards for a touchdown in the FSU win. FSUED musings: Sick numbers – vs. any competition, especially for a freshman.
Oct. 26, 1968. Ron Sellers. FSU went into Columbia and outscored South Carolina 35-28, thanks again to Sellers who caught a career-high 16 balls for 248 yards and three touchdowns. FSUED musings: It still cracks me up to hear uninformed FSU fans argue Biletnikoff was a better college receiver than Sellers. Look at these two stat lines. Sellers: 86 catches for 1,496 yards and 12 touchdowns. Biletnikoff: 87 catches for 1,463 yards and 11 touchdowns. Pretty even, right? Well, one small difference. Biletnikoff’s numbers are CAREER numbers. Sellers are just for the 1968 season! Case closed.
Nov. 26, 1994. Danny Kanell. It was surely the greatest quarter of football ever played by an FSU quarterback. Kanell was 18 of 22 for 232 yards and a touchdown in the FOURTH QUARTER ALONE as FSU came back from a 31-3 deficit to tie Florida in the infamous "Choke at Doak." Kannel’s final stats for the entire game – 40 of 53 for 421 yards and a touchdown each rushing and passing. FSUED musings: True story. After spending the week with my in-laws, I loaded the family in the car after it was 31-3 to make the 5-hour drive home. The Philadelphia Eagles announcer -- drawing a blank on his name -- was doing the game for a national radio broadcast and I picked it up all the way home. Needless to say, that car ride got "funner and funner."
Jan. 4, 2000. Peter Warrick. Brent Musburger called it a "night of redemption." It was a perfect end to a perfect season. Warrick had 163 yards receiving, including two touchdowns, and ran a punt back 59 yards in FSU’s thrilling 46-29 win over Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl to claim the school’s second national championship. FSUED musings: Warrick’s final touchdown catch of 43 yards is arguably the greatest catch in FSU history.
Nov. 27, 1993. Charlie Ward. In his most clutch performance, Ward hit Warrick Dunn on an infamous 79-yard scoring pass to lift FSU to a 33-21 win over arch-rival Florida in Gainesville. Ward finished 38 of 53 for 446 yards, 4 TDs and 2 INTs in the game and added 29 yards rushing. FSUED musings: Strong statement -- nobody who has worn the Garnet and Gold before or since could have led us to victory in this game other than Ward.