Date: January 1, 1996
Location: The Orange Bowl, Miami, Florida
Opponent: Notre Dame Fighting Irish
We at Tomahawk Nation are fond of downplaying non-championship bowl games as glorified exhibitions. Because, you know, they are. That said, if you’re gonna play them, you might as well win them, right? I mean, after all, you’re typically performing on a national stage and being viewed by a more diverse audience than usual. And when it comes to winning bowl games, no team has ever sustained a period of success like Florida State did from 1985 to 1996, a streak of 11-straight bowl victories, still the longest in college football history, and a run capped by the play we focus on today.
But before we get to that, more on the streak, which it’s very hard to foresee ever being toppled. After all, the era of star players sitting out bowl games is only going to throw more chaos into the mix, and unpredictability is rarely the friend of consistency.
And what makes the streak even more successful is that these weren’t wins in second-run bowls that have fallen by the wayside, either. Nine of those 11 wins came in bowls that are now part of the College Football Playoff’s annual rotation. And the 11th victory, after the 1995 season in the Orange Bowl over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, was a W hauled in, largely, by Seminole receiver Andre Cooper.
Early in the fourth quarter, The Seminoles faced dire straights, down 26-14 with about 11 minutes remaining. Danny Kanell led one TD drive to cut the margin to 26-21, and then Kanell found Cooper in the end zone for the FSU junior’s third touchdown catch of the game, which set an Orange Bowl record. It’s a nifty play-action toss fake, which sets up Kanell finding Cooper as he approaches the sideline. The sure-handed Cooper then secures the ball just in time to get his feet down.
Cooper also set a record for points scored by a single player, thanks to the two-point conversion grab he added immediately thereafter to push Florida State's lead to 29-26 and give him 20 points in the contest. The best part about the two-point conversion is Notre Dame complaining about offensive pass interference on Florida State.
You win, the universe.
A safety made the final 31-26, FSU.
Another thing that our staff noticed about this play: somewhat surprisingly, it’s Cooper’s only appearance in our countdown of FSU’s top-100 football plays. That’s not a slight to Cooper as much as it is a nod to the excellent playmaking receivers that have come through Florida State— as well as how often Cooper and his teammates blew out opponents, so that things weren’t even that interesting.
But since it is Cooper’s lone entry in the countdown, it’s worth mentioning some highlights of his career numbers as a ’Nole:
- Cooper’s 71 receptions, in ’95, are tied for the fifth most in an FSU season. With whom is he tied? Peter Warrick, who had as many grabs in his best season (1999).
- Cooper’s 132 career catches are tied for 12th in program history with De’Cody Fagg and Warrick Dunn.
- Cooper has the sixth-most career touchdown grabs in school history, with 24. FSU legend Ron Sellers finished with 23.
- Cooper is tied for the most TD snags in a single season, with 15 in 1995. The only other ’Nole to post that number: Kelvin Benjamin, in 2013.
- There have been just 12 1,000+ receiving-yard seasons notched by Seminole WRs. Cooper’s 1,002 yards in 1995 is one of them— and he definitely needed today’s play to get there.