Date: October 24, 1981
Location: Tiger Stadium, aka Death Valley; Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Florida State fans have seen a plethora of game-breaking running backs don the garnet and gold. And as you’d expect, guys like Dalvin Cook, Warrick Dunn, Dexter Carter, and Amp Lee will all grace the top 100 list.
However, before any of those legends etched their name into FSU lore, a full decade before William Floyd silenced the Tiger crowd in play number 98 on this list, there was one running back who set the mold. Greg Allen.
For some of the younger ‘Noles out there, this might be an unfamiliar name—just as it was for much of the college football world during the early weeks of the 1981 season. But down in Tallahassee, Bobby Bowden and company knew they had a good one.
Coming off a thrashing at the hands of the third ranked Pitt Panthers (led by some guy named Dan Marino), the Seminoles headed to Baton Rouge for their 5th consecutive road game that season, all against powerhouse programs. FSU’s record sat at 4-2, but the bruised and battered team needed some fresh legs. So it was, despite carrying the ball only 23 times in the first six games of the season, Coach Bowden inserted the true freshman from Milton, Florida into the starting lineup for the first time.
So you’ve got a true freshman making his first start, on the road in one of the most hostile environments in all of college football, on homecoming night for LSU, with his team facing a critical showdown against a southern rival. And Allen did what all the great ones do—seized the moment.
On the game’s first play from scrimmage, Allen took the hand-off, displayed his natural instincts, broke a tackle, and then showed off his sprinter’s speed to race 66 yards down to the LSU nine-yard line. (FYI, the video is a tad choppy, but stick around for the replay that shows it well). FSU settled for a FG on that drive, but Allen would scamper in for a 15 yard score later in the first and the rout was on.
On the night, Allen set a new school record with 202 yards on 31 carries, becoming the first back in FSU history to eclipse the 200 yard mark in a single-game. Florida State embarrassed the Tigers in front of the home fans, 38-14, giving them a 3-2 mark over their now famous “Octoberfest” schedule and further adding to Bobby’s “King of the Road” reputation.
As for Allen? Well, his school record didn’t last long. He broke it the very next week when he exploded for 322 yards on 32 carries, adding a 95 yard kickoff return for a TD to boot. The school rushing record still stands to this day and his 417 all-purpose yards set a then-NCAA record.
During his illustrious career, Allen would go on to lead the NCAA in scoring in 1982, join Bo Jackson as a consensus all-american in 1983, and set FSU records for carries (624), career rushing yards (3,769), and touchdowns (45), all in only 40 games and while battling knee injuries in an era when treatments and recovery were much less successful. In 1990, Allen was inducted into the Florida State Hall of Fame.