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Matchups and Memories: The series history of Florida State vs Notre Dame

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Which team holds the edge in the 11th meeting of these historic programs?

University of Notre Dame vs Florida State University Set Number: X45289 TK2 R2 F3

First game of the year, first dive into this year’s matchups and memories:

  • Opponent: Notre Dame Fighting Irish
  • First matchup: 10/10/1981
  • Series record: FSU has 6 wins to Notre Dame’s 4.
  • Current streak: Notre Dame 2-game winning streak.
  • Last game: Notre Dame 42-26 win over Florida State (10/10/20).

Notre Dame rolls into Tallahassee this weekend with a 2-game winning streak over the Florida State Seminoles. If the Fighting Irish were to win on Sunday, it’d match the longest winning streak of the series at 3 (FSU 2003, 2011, 2014).

Sunday Night’s game figures to stand out (one way or the other) in the minds of Seminole fans for years to come. It’s an opportunity for FSU to announce itself on the national scene, once again, although it could serve as another opening game misfire, with which Nole Nation is all too familiar the last few years.

NoleThruandThru’s Recruiting Reminiscences

FSU fans will fondly remember 2002, when Lorenzo Booker shocked the recruiting world by choosing the Seminoles over the Fighting Irish during the first commitment ever featured on SportsCenter and simultaneously outing Tom Lemming for the shameless Notre Dame shill he is. Fast forward to several months ago, the mood was much gloomier in Tallahassee when preseason All-American offensive guard transfer Cain Madden spurned the Seminoles for a different shade of gold.

Perhaps the most interest recruiting tie between these two programs, however, is Randy Moss. After Moss wore out his welcome in South Bend, then-Irish head coach Lou Holtz contacted close friend Bobby Bowden to see if Florida State was an option for Moss. Bowden accepted and although Moss initially met all expectations set forth by Bowden during a redshirt season, he was ultimately dismissed before ever suiting up for a game after being caught with marijuana. A starting WR lineup of Peter Warrick, Randy Moss, and E.G. Green was never to be, leaving one of the biggest “what ifs” in FSU (and college) football history.

Matt Minnick’s memorable moment

The first time FSU and Notre Dame squared off on the gridiron was as two independents in 1981 during the Seminoles’ famed “Octoberfest” schedule. Florida State won that matchup 19-13, but the game itself has been largely lost to history aside from just being part of that brutal, five-game road stretch. The next matchup between the Irish and ‘Noles, however, is one that left an indelible mark on the college football landscape, as well as the mind and heart of a decades younger version of me.

The term “Game of the Century” is one that is thrown around a little loosely at times, but the 1993 showdown between Notre Dame and Florida State was one of the handful of 20th century contests that can truly lay claim to the moniker. (1966 ND/Michigan State, 1969 UT/Arkansas, 1971 Nebraska/OU, and 1991 FSU/Miami are among the others with a proper claim). It wasn’t just a regular season number 1 vs number 2 matchup of titans, it was two legendary coaches, with opposite playing styles, lining up in the most hallowed college football stadium in the nation—before it expanded. In fact, what would eventually become a Saturday morning staple, Lee Corse and “College Gameday” left the east coast studios and traveled to the site of the marquee matchup for the first time ever. So needless to say the tickets were at a premium.

My dad, an FSU alum himself, was one of the fortunate few to score two tickets. To hear stories now, it seems like 200,000 people were in attendance, but back then Notre Dame Stadium barely held more than 50k. So the old man and I traveled up to Chicago a couple days prior before making the dreary drive over to South Bend. Touring campus, the electricity was palpable well before kickoff. As we approached the stadium, an ND fan desperate to get in asked us how much for two tickets. My dad asked “how much you got” and the man emptied his wallet to the tune of $1,500 in cash—$750 per ticket for an endzone seat—which FYI is nearly three grand in today’s money. Dad looked over and said he’d leave it up to me; do we take the cash and go back to Chicago in style, or do we go see our team put it all on the line?

Without hesitation I said, “I want to see the game,” to which my dad responded, “Sorry, sir, you heard the man.”

Though the outcome was a loss, years later the memories remain vivid, as if it were yesterday. Turned out we were in the endzone where Kez McCorvey caught the tipped pass late in the game, which was a bit of foreshadowing to our endzone seats a month and a half later down in the Orange Bowl when a late-game kick finally split the uprights (that story will have to wait for another time). Money comes and goes, but memories allow moments, places, and people to live on with us for ever. They allow passions and pageantry to be passed down from one generation to the next.

So while this Sunday might not end in victory, there are great memories to be made even in defeat.

Matt Minnick, the resident Tomahawk Nation historian, is a Tallahassee native and life long Seminoles fan, attending over 225 FSU football games across the country since 1986.


We here at Tomahawk Nation love hearing your favorite Florida State football moments. Drop a comment below sharing a memory from past Florida State and Notre Dame matchups. What play or game is seared into your memory? Whether it’s a Chris Rix fumble or a red-faced Brian Kelly, join the conversation.