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Matchup History: Florida State vs. Virginia

Seminoles showcase strong series record against Cavaliers

Warrick Dunn

In 19 prior meetings, Florida State leads the all-time series over Virginia 15-4. While all four of Virginia’s wins have come in tight, one-possession contests, the Noles have won by 21 points or more 10 times versus the Cavaliers.

Constantly forced to play the underdog role, UVA ran into a top-seven ranked FSU squad every single season from 1992 to 2005. Legendary head coach and all-time FSU wins leader Bobby Bowden took on Virginia’s winningest head coach in George Welsh in the first nine games between the schools.

When FSU punched their ticket to the ACC in 1992, they were eyeing a perfect sweep across their new conference schedule Halloween night in Charlottesville. Virginia made the Noles work in a 13-3 low-scoring affair. Linebacker Derrick Brooks had 10 tackles and a sack to lead an impressive FSU defensive effort.

Ranked #15 and 5-0 the next season, Welsh had Virginia riding high heading into the first matchup in Tallahassee. But the sensational Charlie Ward and the Seminole offense raced past the Cavaliers 40-14. In a Heisman moment, Ward hurdled over two UVA defenders for a beautiful 18-yard touchdown scramble to grab a 30-0 first half lead.

In one of the first Thursday night games in FSU history, a twin duo of future all-pros helped take down the Noles in their college days before starring in the NFL. Ronde and Tiki Barber handed the Noles an ACC loss for the first time in their football history in 1995. Trailing 33-28 with under a minute left, FSU drove the length of the field and tailback Warrick Dunn took a direct snap with 4 seconds left.

A controversial ending that left FSU fans everywhere punching holes in their wall with frustration, Dunn appeared to cross the plane for a dramatic game-winning touchdown on the final play of the game. But the FSU legend was called inches short in an exciting finish, and UVA fans rushed the field to celebrate one of the biggest wins in program history.

Seeking revenge for the devastating upset one year later, Dunn scored on a beautiful 65-yard toss sweep, cutting back across the field to grab a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. Virginia led at the half, but Dunn’s running mate Rock Preston clinched the 31-24 win with a long cutback touchdown run of his own.

With the Barber twins graduated in 1997, Florida State returned to their dominant first-half routine, leading 30-7 at the break and coasting to a 47-21 win behind running back Travis Minor’s 226 combined yards and 3 total touchdowns. The next year, Virginia was in the midst of another top-15 season and sporting a 7-1 record, but were no match for the Noles. The headline of the 45-14 win was quarterback Chris Weinke herniating a disk in his neck, essentially costing FSU the 1998 national title.

Virginia hung tough with the wire-to-wire dominance on the 1999 Seminoles, leading 10-7 at halftime, but a 28-0 FSU run beginning late in the third quarter helped spark a win. Receiver Snoop Minnis (131 yards and 2 touchdowns) continued his awesome senior year in 2000, another big second half topped new Cavaliers head coach Al Groh in 2001, and tailback Greg Jones ran wild in 2002.

Seventh-ranked Florida State grinded out a 19-14 win over Virginia in 2003 to grab a stranglehold on the final ACC Championship before the league expanded. Groh had UVA up to #6 in the nation heading into the 2004 game, but the result was more of the same; FSU cruised yet again 36-3. Virginia quarterback Marques Hagans had a career day in an upset of Florida State a year later, completing 75 percent of his passes for 306 yards and 2 touchdowns.

After the game, Bowden said, “I don’t have a lot to say. All I want to say, you can’t print.”

A streak of 15 straight meetings ended in 2006 with a 33-0 shutout win for the Noles. FSU has faced Virginia only 4 times in the 13 seasons since 2006. First-year Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher earned his second ACC win of his career when backs Jermaine Thomas and Chris Thompson churned for nearly 200 rushing yards combined in 2010.

In 2011, Florida State and Fisher were gunning for an 8-game win streak to end the year after starting 2-3. Clinging to a 13-7 lead behind a 2.5 sack performance from defensive lineman and local Florida High product Brandon Jenkins, UVA stunned the Seminoles with a gut-wrenching touchdown to take the lead with only a minute remaining. Fisher literally laid down on the field in agony when receiver Bert Reed caught a pass in bounds with 10 seconds left and the clock ran out.

After a review, Reed’s catch was ruled an incomplete pass, and kicker Dustin Hopkins got the chance to try a 42-yarder for the win. The kick sailed to the left, and Virginia escaped 14-13 for their first and only win in Doak Campbell Stadium.

Three years later, the Seminoles were in the midst of one of the longest winning streaks in college football history. FSU toyed with Virginia as they did many teams that year on the way to a second straight undefeated 12-0 regular season. Down 13-7 early, FSU used a few timely turnovers to begin back-to-back drives in the red zone. Both ended in touchdowns, and the latter of which was a Jameis Winston pass to Rashad Greene from 22 yards out.

One of the greatest and most prolific quarterback-to-receiver duos in Florida State history, it was the final time Winston connected with Greene for a touchdown at home on Bobby Bowden Field. From there, Winston ran one in with a dazzling pump-fake to go up 28-13. Kicker Roberto Aguayo knocked in two field goals in the third quarter for a two-score win, FSU’s 25th win in a row.

In a very strange coincidence, running back Cam Akers was stopped short on the goal line as time expired last year in a play that was eerily similar to Dunn’s near-touchdown in 1995. It even was in the same end zone. FSU led 17-10 at half and 24-17 early in the fourth going for the upset.

This Saturday, Florida State (2-6, 1-6 ACC) battles Virginia (4-4, 3-4 ACC) in Tallahassee in the 20th game in the history of the matchup.

Year-By-Year Results (FSU 15 Wins, UVA 4 Wins)

1992: Florida State 13, Virginia 3

1993: Florida State 40, Virginia 14

1994: Florida State 41, Virginia 17

1995: Virginia 33, Florida State 28

1996: Florida State 31, Virginia 24

1997: Florida State 47, Virginia 21

1998: Florida State 45, Virginia 14

1999: Florida State 35, Virginia 10

2000: Florida State 37, Virginia 3

2001: Florida State 43, Virginia 7

2002: Florida State 40, Virginia 19

2003: Florida State 19, Virginia 14

2004: Florida State 36, Virginia 3

2005: Virginia 26, Florida State 21

2006: Florida State 33, Virginia 0

2010: Florida State 34, Virginia 14

2011: Virginia 14, Florida State 13

2014: Florida State 34, Virginia 20

2019: Virginia 31, Florida State 24