Date: October 19, 2013
Location: Memorial Stadium, Clemson, South Carolina
Opponent: No. 3 Clemson Tigers
No scarier place than Death Valley, right?
That’s what Clemson’s home stadium was billed to be heading into this matchup. A loud, intense atmosphere, with a crowd that would rattle the young Florida State Seminoles squad.
In ESPN’s Game of the Week, Florida State entered Death Valley hoping to prove something. While everyone thought that the national championship would come down to Alabama and Oregon, Jimbo Fisher’s Seminoles were hoping to use this game to send a message that they belonged in that conversation as well.
Meanwhile, Clemson was the No. 3 team in the country with senior quarterback Tajh Boyd and future NFL receiver Sammy Watkins running the most prolific offense in the country. The Tigers were no doubt looking to dismantle this young, inexperienced Florida State team.
It did not take long for the Seminoles to announce their presence.
On the first play, senior defensive back Lamarcus Joyner forced a fumble on Clemson receiver Stanton Seckinger which FSU would recover. Three plays later, Jameis Winston found Kelvin Benjamin for a touchdown.
Talk about a good start.
Clemson would punt on its following drive and Winston would lead FSU on a 16 play, 77-yard drive that ended with a Roberto Aguayo field goal to stretch the lead to 10-0.
The Tigers got the ball back, hoping to find the end zone. After all, they couldn’t get blown out in Death Valley, right?
Clemson drove to midfield behind the arm of Boyd as the clock ticked down in the first quarter. On first and 10 from the FSU 45-yard line, Boyd lined up in the shotgun and faked the handoff to the running back. He dropped back to pass.
But there was Joyner.
It’s remarkable how fast Joyner gets to the quarterback. Boyd hardly has a chance to get his feet set before the senior defensive back is upon him.
Boyd fumbles the ball, which Mario Edwards Jr. picks up and races to the end zone for a touchdown.
The play might have been more graceful if Joyner or senior Terrence Brooks had picked up the ball, but there was something immensely satisfying seeing a 300-pound defensive linemen tumble downfield for a touchdown.
After all, it led to the infamous call by Florida State announcer Gene Deckerhoff.
“Tajh Boyd fumbles and the the biggest guy in the No. 15 jersey I’ve ever seen goes 40 yards for the touchdown!”
From there, the beatdown was on.
Florida State would find the end zone four more times en route to a 51-14 victory against the No. 3 Tigers in Death Valley.
Joyner had perhaps the best performance of his collegiate career, finishing with eight tackles, a pair of forced fumbles, and an interception to boot.
I mean, just look at the look in Joyner’s eyes as he comes off the field following his interception. Talk about a warrior.
ESPN’s postgame report summed it up best, calling the Seminoles’ win a “statement that should be heard from Alabama to Oregon.”
No longer were the ’Noles on the outside looking in. Now, Florida State was a legitimate national title contender.