Date: October 9, 1993
Location: Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, FL
Opponent: No. 3 Miami Hurricanes
Once upon a time, long before Miami became the land of puny internet trolls it is known as today, it was once a monstrous thing, a mountain-sized behemoth blocking the bridge that led to the eternal land of national titles. Florida State had been this close to taking its rightful place among college football’s champions so many times, only to fall just short. Only to sit and watch the troll crown itself king.
Wide Right I.
Wide Right II.
Both losses by just four points combined. How do you climb the mountain to immortality?
By obliterating it and achieving immortality on the way.
Florida State opened the 1993 season with an eleven-play goal line stand against Kansas, erasing them 42-0. They crushed Duke 45-7 and then erased Clemson too, to the score of 57-0. That’s a combined score of 144-7. Next they dismantled North Carolina 33-7. Their fifth game was against Georgia Tech - they also got erased, 51-0. That’s 228-14. It was so incredibly dominant, the immortal Derrick Brooks outscored FSU’s first five opponents, combined, by himself, a record that might stand for all time.
And so on October 9, in front of another record crowd of 77,813, Florida State again found itself standing in front of Miami, which came to Tallahassee with a 31 game regular season win streak. Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden held a 36-3 home record, with two of those losses to Miami. But this time, the Seminoles were experienced, tested from their previous encounters. They were resolute. They refused to be sold short, and would leave no doubt.
With the score at 21-10 FSU with just over six minutes remaining, Miami regained possession. They Hurricanes had completed comebacks and snatched victory from Florida State so many times before. Quarterback Frank Costa threw a short five yard pass on first down. Costa’s attempt on second down just barely fell incomplete on a flag route just out of reach of his receiver. And on third and five safety Devin Bush cut in front of Costa’s pass as he stared down his target and Bush took his first interception of the season 40 yards for the touchdown. And the demon was gone.
What does the nation’s best scoring defense look like?
It looks like catharsis. Or perhaps a reckoning.
Miami would get the ball back and set a new tradition they would honor throughout the coming years: Quitting. Florida State would run out the last four minutes on the clock. The Seminole defense held Miami’s passing attack to just 193 yards.
For the first time in three years, the annual showdown between Florida State and Miami did not come down to a field goal. For the first time in four years, FSU beat Miami.
Florida State’s defense would finish the 1993 season with 34 sacks, fifteen interceptions, five defensive touchdowns, and four shutouts. They would allow just 129 total points in all thirteen games that season. Only three opponents would score 20 or more points and only one would score more than 21, and they held seven of their thirteen opponents to seven points or less. It featured three first-team All-Americans in Derrick Alexander, Derrick Brooks, and Corey Sawyer (who had six interceptions and eleven pass breakups), and two honorable mentions in leading tackler Ken Alexander and future consensus All-American Clifton Abraham. Seven defensive players would go on to play in the NFL. They topped it all off with another goal line stand that helped capture the program’s first national title.