Outside of their rivals, Florida State’s football program has faced North Carolina State nearly as often as any football team they have played in the eight-decade history of Seminole football. Even after removing the games between the two as ACC Atlantic Division adversaries, N.C. State is still one of FSU’s top five most-scheduled opponents.
Between 1998 and 2017, an unranked N.C. State team knocked off FSU in textbook upset fashion eight different times. Cemented for two decades year-after-year in their roles as perennial top-25 program (Florida State) and consistent bowler and solid adversary (NCSU), the game lent itself to an upset situation nearly every season.
After squaring off 12 times during the 1950’s and 1960’s, FSU and North Carolina State settled in for their yearly conference game beginning in 1992 when the Noles joined the ACC. Since then, the two programs have battled for 28 straight years.
Now in their new role as the outcast ninth member of the conference, Florida State got off to a slow start in the 1992 game but eventually overcame a scoreless first quarter. Defensive back Corey Sawyer had an impressive 3 interceptions and wide receiver Shannon Baker was indeed a “touchdown-maker” when he grabbed two scores from Charlie Ward in the 34-13 win.
When N.C. State journeyed into Doak Campbell Stadium in 1993 for the first time in 24 years, the now-impressive brick structure looked a whole lot different. FSU waxed the Wolfpack 62-3 and eyed a chance at a title when word spread that #1 Notre Dame (winners over the Noles the week before) fell to Boston College. National award committees of all varieties, including the Heisman Trophy, took notice of Ward’s 278 yard and 5 total touchdown performance on senior night.
In 1994, N.C. State again ran into the November buzzsaw that was the 1990’s Noles, unable to contain Warrick Dunn’s 122 yards in another blowout. Fodder for a record-breaking offense, FSU set their then single-game high in 1995 with a 77-17 curb-stomping.
Thursday-night football “gods” were not a factor yet in the series when Dunn and the Noles cruised to a 24-0 halftime lead in 1996. A deceiving 48-35 final in 1997 underscored a 3-touchdown first quarter from quarterback Thad Busby (463 passing yards).
Much like the rest of the original eight ACC teams FSU shoved aside upon their entrance to the conference, N.C. State eventually chipped away and took down the perennial top-dog. The Wolfpack were the authors of Florida State’s second-ever ACC loss in 1998.
A memorable upset for home fans in Carter-Finley Stadium, FSU strangely scored on a 74-yard Peter Warrick touchdown their first play from scrimmage but were promptly shutout the rest of the game. Kicking off a spectacular 1,600-yard campaign, wideout Torry Holt had 9 catches for 135 yards and a score in the 24-7 win.
It was no dice for N.C. State trying to make it two in a row over the wire-to-wire National Champion Seminoles, with FSU cruising for a win again in 1999, outscoring the Pack off defensive touchdowns alone.
Assistant head coach and linebackers coach Chuck Amato, member of the FSU staff since he joined as defensive ends coach way back in 1982, was hired as N.C. State’s head coach for the 2000 season. That spring they also signed a prep quarterback out of Alabama named Philip Rivers.
Rattling off over 300 rushing yards and fooling the freshman Rivers for 3 interceptions, Florida State was well on their way to punching another ticket to the BCS National Championship at the turn of the century. In 2001, the Wolfpack upset FSU again behind a 17-0 second quarter; Noles had the ball down 34-28 with 2 minutes left but failed to capitalize. It was Florida State’s first-ever ACC loss at home.
A combination of the star quarterback and former FSU assistant began to be a thorn in the side of Bobby Bowden: freshman running back T.A. McLendon ran past the Noles and N.C. State’s defense pounded FSU in Raleigh for back-to-back wins in 2002.
Florida State again had to tangle with the future all-pro Rivers for a fourth season, this time in an instant classic in 2003. One of the greatest games in the history of the ACC, Rivers and the Wolfpack went back and forth with the Noles’ offense in a double-overtime thriller. The lightning-quick release of Rivers, unstoppable all night with 422 yards and 5 total touchdowns, picked apart FSU to make it 37-37 late in the fourth.
A blocked field goal with 2 seconds left forced overtime (the first-ever OT game in Doak Campbell), as receiver Craphonso Thorpe and Rivers traded touchdowns in the first extra period. N.C. State started first in the second overtime, neglecting a field goal and failing on a fourth-and-one conversion. In the midst of a breakout season, Thorpe tragically had his knee blown out the play before running back Leon Washington (121 rushing yards) punched in the game-winner.
Defenses had their day the next season: FSU squeaked by 17-10 despite 121 total yards to the Wolfpack’s equally-paltry 123 output. N.C. State upset the Seminoles again in 2005, intercepting freshman quarterback Drew Weatherford 3 times. It was the same story in 2006, when FSU squandered a 20-10 lead, dropping their fourth game in six years to the Amato-led Pack. After the loss, Florida State entered October unranked in the polls for the first time since 1986, an incredible 30-year streak.
Back in the comfort of Bobby Bowden Field in 2007, Michael Ray Garvin grabbed a pick-six and receiver Greg Carr had 140 receiving yards and a touchdown to clinch a win. A young quarterback prodigy named Russell Wilson started one of his first games in college versus Florida State in 2008 and directed the Pack to a 10-0 lead. Wilson had N.C. State in prime position again when he lofted a 67-yard touchdown pass for a 17-13 advantage, but FSU closed on a 13-0 run to win the game late.
A highly entertaining, typical 2009-esque shootout unfolded between the two schools a year later. Quarterback Christian Ponder and the Seminoles simply had the ball last on a day where Florida State racked up 555 yards of total offense and Wilson had 349 yards and 5 touchdowns passing on his own.
On a Thursday night in 2010, Wilson finally got the best of FSU and Ponder. The Wolfpack junior overwhelmed the Noles, rushing for 3 scores and passing for another, the latter on fourth down with under 3 minutes remaining to win the game 28-24. In another suspenseful ending, running back Ty Jones and Ponder collided to cause a fumble on the goal-line. FSU was four yards short of a last-minute, game-winning drive in Jimbo Fisher’s first season as head coach.
In the first-ever matchup between the two in 1952, FSU inexplicably threw a pick-six leading 7-6 in the fourth quarter to give N.C. State first blood. Florida State got their revenge and then some, winning the next four over the Wolfpack. Broadcaster Lee Corso saw some action at quarterback in 1953, FSU dominated the second half in 1954, and FSU slipped by 7-0 in the 1955 season opener behind 2 Corso’s interceptions.
The Lee Corso show kept going in 1956 with a 35-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to made it four in a row. An all-star combo of Fred Biletnikoff and quarterback Steve Tensi continued their excellent 1964 connection with two scores for a 28-6 win.
Twice in 1965 and 1967, then-linebacker and prep wrestler Chuck Amato defeated Florida State in his playing days. Tallahassee icon T.K. Wetherell started at right halfback in a 3-0 scrum in 1965. Amato made it two-for-two over Wetherell (now a defensive back) two years later, but FSU ran the table and turned their 0-2-1 record into an awesome 7-2-2 season.
With N.C. State keying in on Ron Sellers in 1968, the star flanker opened it up for everyone else, and Bill Gunter had all 3 touchdowns of a 21-0 third quarter run that led to a 48-7 smackdown. In the last meeting in 1969 before their ACC era, the Noles led for all 60 minutes and methodically picked apart their “Crimson and Clover” counterparts 33-22.
Back in the present-day era, FSU shutout the Wolfpack in 2011, but fell to a same familiar fate the next year at N.C. State. A season before their third title, FSU was 1 point away from an 11-0 start to the season if not for a collapse in Raleigh. Ranked #3 (highest since 2003), Florida State famously led 16-0 at halftime.
Criticized for coasting with the lead and not playing aggressively, their lead slipped away with 16 seconds left off a Mike Glennon pass over the middle for a 17-16 win for N.C. State. In the same position the next year ranked at #3, FSU welcomed the anniversary of the 1993 national championship team with a 35-0 first quarter reckoning of the Wolfpack. Jameis Winston had 292 passing yards and all 4 four of his touchdowns in the first frame.
Winston spotted N.C. State a 24-7 lead the next year until he came alive and dominated the NCSU secondary, dropping off 11 completions to Rashad Greene for 125 yards and the clinching touchdown. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett had 359 yards and 3 touchdowns of his own for the Pack in defeat.
Trailing again in 2015, this time 17-7, quarterback Sean Maguire was subbed in and teamed up with Dalvin Cook (138 yards and 2 touchdowns) to pound N.C. State 27-0 the rest of the way for a third straight win. Another upset bid fell short in 2016 when receiver Travis Rudolph caught the game-winner with 3 minutes left.
N.C. State spoiled quarterback James Blackman’s first start in 2017 with a close win, and shook off Blackman’s 4 touchdowns to blow out FSU 47-28 in 2018. A rare bright side of 2019 for Florida State was a 31-13 win at home versus N.C. State.
This Saturday, FSU (2-5, 1-5 ACC) heads to NCSU (3-4 overall and in ACC) for the 41st meeting between the schools.
Year-By-Year Results (FSU 27 Wins, NCSU 13 Wins)
1952: N.C. State 13, Florida State 7
1953: Florida State 23, N.C. State 13
1954: Florida State 13, N.C. State 7
1955: Florida State 7, N.C. State 0
1956: Florida State 14, N.C. State 0
1957: N.C. State 7, Florida State 0
1963: Florida State 14, N.C, State 0
1964: Florida State 28, N.C. State 6
1965: N.C. State 3, Florida State 0
1967: N.C. State 20, Florida State 10
1968: Florida State 48, N.C. State 7
1969: Florida State 33, N.C. State 22
1992: Florida State 34, N.C. State 13
1993: Florida State 62, N.C. State 3
1994: Florida State 34, N.C. State 3
1995: Florida State 77, N.C. State 17
1996: Florida State 51, N.C. State 17
1997: Florida State 48, N.C. State 35
1998: N.C. State 24, Florida State 7
1999: Florida State 42, N.C. State 11
2000: Florida State 58, N.C. State 14
2001: N.C. State 34, Florida State 28
2002: N.C. State 17, Florida State 7
2003: Florida State 50, N.C. State 44 2OT
2004: Florida State 17, N.C. State 10
2005: N.C. State 20, Florida State 15
2006: N.C. State 24, Florida State 20
2007: Florida State 27, N.C. State 10
2008: Florida State 26, N.C. State 17
2009: Florida State 45, N.C. State 42
2010: N.C. State 28, Florida State 24
2011: Florida State 34, N.C. State 0
2012: N.C. State 17, Florida State 16
2013: Florida State 49, N.C. State 17
2014: Florida State 56, N.C. State 41
2015: Florida State 34, N.C. State 17
2016: Florida State 24, N.C. State 20
2017: N.C. State 27, Florida State 21
2018: N.C. State 47, Florida State 28
2019: Florida State 31, N.C. State 13