As Florida State's players danced off the field in Doak Campbell Stadium holding a Gator head above their heads, the feeling of defeating arch-rival Florida 24-19 began to sink in.
"That was the first time I've been able to hold it up here, so that was awesome", tight end Nick O'Leary said. "We needed to beat them to stay perfect and we did that."
Don't let the narrow victory--another notch in a continuing theme of the 2014 Seminole football team--fool you, defeating the Gators meant plenty to these players. Florida State has now defeated Florida twice in a row and four times of the last five games. The impact is felt throughout Florida as FSU is the clear top dog in the state, affecting recruiting battles in the talent rich grounds of the Southeast.
"It's sweet every year, that's why you come to Florida State to play in one of the greatest rivalries in college football", linebacker Terrance Smith noted. "To beat them in our home stadium is big time."
"It feels good to beat them", linebacker Reggie Northrup added. "I don't like Florida at all, their colors, anything. I have a lot friends that like the Gators so it feels great to beat them."
Many of the players remembered the last time the Gators won a game in the series in 2012. That game was played in Doak Campbell Stadium, and ironically, was the last time any team has beaten the Seminoles, who since have won 28 straight games. In those 28 games, two back to back perfect 12-0 season are nestled, showcasing the dominance of FSU under Jimbo Fisher.
"That streak means a lot for the fans and the seniors that have been undefeated the past two seasons", quarterback Jameis Winston said.
Florida came into the game determined to send recently resigned head coach Will Muschamp out with one final victory. In a year of many downs for the Gator program, a final win over the Seminoles, one that could shatter Seminole dreams, would make their season a minor success. The Gators played physically and fearlessly on defense, needing their energy level to be matched by Florida State.
"It's always good to beat the Gators, both team's come in ready to play regardless of their record's", wide receiver Rashad Greene said. "You have to come in ready to play."
The senior class for the Seminoles ended their careers 3-1 against Florida and 7-1 against the Gators and Hurricanes. Under Jimbo Fisher Florida State is 9-1 against the aforementioned Hurricanes and Gators -- the best five-year stretch against the in-state rivals in FSU history.
"It says a lot that I won three games in my career against Florida", Greene said. "We got Florida State back to where it's suppose to be."