Though having played since the late 50s, FSU entered the 1988 season with only 7 career victories against the University of Florida. Meanwhile, UF was sitting comfortably at 22 wins. The Gators had won 6 straight from 1981 through 1986 before the previous year’s victory in The Swamp.
But the one-sided rivalry would take a turn.
A buttonhook turn, to be precise:
On a gorgeous 68-degree November evening in Tallahassee, FSU received the opening kickoff and looked to score before the now outlawed garnet & gold pre-game balloons had time to land. The #5-ranked Noles moved methodically into the UF red zone.
Though off-screen here, the route uses a vertical release to sell the deep route. Then, the receiver turns around on the buttonhook, creating separation from the defender who is forced to breakdown. Respecting UF’s defense, FSU had QB Chip Ferguson roll out toward Dawsey - a strategy still used today to help quarterbacks get safer angles on short passes.
After the throw, though, Lawrence would do the rest of the work, evading and ultimately crawling his way toward the first FSU touchdown of the day toward a 52-17 Gator mauling. This blowout was the second win in as many years, contributing to 13 FSU wins in the next 18 meetings in the rivalry, with wins in ‘87, ‘88, ‘89, ‘90, ‘92, ‘93, and ‘94.
At 35 points, it remains FSU’s largest margin of victory in the series to date.
And it started with Dawsey’s buttonhook TD that resembled a 15-yard Tough Mudder obstacle.