Date: December 3rd, 1977
Location: Florida Field, Gainesville, Florida.
Opponent: Florida Gators
There are moments in every sibling rivalry where the little brother wins. Sometimes moral victories, sometimes narrow victories, sometimes victories where big brother wasn’t trying hard enough. Those victories are soon forgotten. On the final regular season game of 1977, Florida State finally showed that they’re capable of breaking their big brother’s arm, and those are the ones we remember.
In his 2nd season at the helm, Bobby Bowden’s Florida State Seminoles traveled to Gainesville riding a 9-game losing streak against their bitter in-state rivals. Some of the losses were flat-out embarrassing, highlighted by a 49-0 shellacking during FSU’s winless 1973 season. Bobby had quickly turned around a sinking program, and they drove east and south that weekend with several major milestones to achieve. And on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon, FSU put UF’s arm in a lock and changed the course of the rivalry forever.
On a day where the Seminoles out-gained the Gators 578 yard to 200 and held them to 10 first downs, it’s difficult to pick a single play from the symphony of destruction, so let’s visit a few major boxes checked:
A) The victory marked FSU’s first 9-win season in school history
2) 37 points was FSU’s most scored in the rivalry
D) Running back Larry Key’s 143 yards rushing made him the first 1,000 yard rusher at FSU.
This only FSU’s 3rd win over Florida in their 20th meeting.
Bobby’s 2-headed quarterback monster, “Wally Jim Jordham” exploited the Gators’ defensive weakness all afternoon.
Though #1 receiver Kurt Unglaub’s opening score may been the most spectacular, lesser-known wide receiver Roger Overby caught 3 of his 5 career touchdowns against the roasted UF secondary. The final 20-yard strike on a post pattern from Jimmy Jordan cemented the historic victory. Statement made.
(play shown is 2nd of two 20-yard TD’s by Overby, this one put FSU ahead 24-9)
The heated FSU-UF rivalry has been marked by streaks and lopsided trends traded between the schools. After the 1977 triumph ended the 9-game losing skid, a 4-game winning streak for FSU started; their first in the series. And there’s little coincidence that several key Seminole freshmen were along for that entire four-season ride beginning on 12/3/1977. The names may ring a bell:
Bill Capece, Bobby Butler, Monk Bonasorte, and Ron Simmons.
Eventually FSU, Eventually.