Date: November 30, 1996
Location: Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, Fla.
Opponent: No. 1 Florida Gators
For only the fourth time in college football history two undefeated teams met in the regular season finale and Florida State tailback Warrick Dunn saved his best for last in leading the second ranked Seminoles to a 24-21 win over top ranked Florida.
With the wind gusting at over 20 mph, FSU used a career high 185 yards rushing by Dunn and a brilliant defense, which registered six quarterback sacks, to run its record to a perfect 11-0 and cash in a ticket to the Sugar Bowl and the national championship game.
That was the brilliant lede from the 1997 FSU media guide. FSU legend Lee Corso would pick the Gators to win earlier that day during College Gameday, and the game against the two undefeated 10-0 rivals opened with Florida State safety Shevin Smith intercepting Florida quarterback legend Danny Wuerffel in the end zone after Wuerffel threw a bad pass off his back foot. FSU would turn and march 72 yards on the back of Dunn and kick a field goal.
On Florida’s next possession, Fred Taylor takes a first-down shovel pass at the forty yard line and is tackled for a one-yard loss. On second down Wuerffel is flushed out of the pocket by Reinard Wilson and Peter Boulware coming off the edges before being sacked by Connell Spain. The referees also called holding on the play and we were all treated to this delicious gem:
Here it is in gif form:
The penalty was accepted and on third and 23 with 4:43 left in the first quarter Andrew Wadsworth did Andre Wadsworth things. As you’ll see below, Wadsworth blows right through the A gap past hapless Florida center Wyley Ritch and absolutely levels Wuerffel from behind, setting up a fourth-and-forever. The punt team comes on for Florida, and All-American Peter Boulware blocks the punt, puts a tutu on Gator punter Robby Stevenson, and electrifies the record-crowd of 80,932 in what is surely one of the loudest moments ever in Doak Campbell Stadium:
That was so good let’s watch it again in HD:
Florida would try and mount a comeback, cutting the Seminole lead to 17-14 in the second half and missing and a wide-right field goal just before halftime that would have tied it. But in the end Wuerffel’s 362 passing yards and three touchdowns were all for naught. Mostly because he was harassed all day by the FSU pass rush. Boulware didn’t record a sack but even he got in on the action:
Three straight carries by fullback Pooh Bear Williams would give FSU a 24-14 lead with 7:15 left to play in the fourth quarter. Wuerffel would cut it to 24-21 with 2:28 to play but the Gators’ NCAA-best scoring offense wouldn’t touch the ball again. Florida State ran out the clock on the No. 1 team in the nation and clinched its second-ever undefeated regular season and a trip to the national championship. After the final whistle fans stormed the field and for one last time tore down the goal posts in Doak, and brought one of the uprights to Corso.