In what should be another rocking environment, the 4-2 Florida State Seminoles welcome the undefeated Clemson Tigers on Saturday. The game will kick off at 7:30 p.m. EST and will be nationally broadcast on ABC. Clemson weathered two tough matchups against Wake Forest and NC State prior to easily dispatching Boston College last weekend. The Tigers will also welcome back several key players from injury to be at near-full strength just in time for the FSU game, because of course they will.
The Seminoles and Wolfpack have met on the gridiron 34 times. FSU holds a 20-14 series lead but the Tigers currently own a six-game win streak, their longest in the series history.
Clemson’s rise to national prominence has solidified its standing as a primary rival for Florida State, as the two teams have combined for 11 of the 14 ACC Atlantic Division titles and 11 of 17 ACC Championship Game titles since the game’s 2005 inception. There have been plenty of superstars and huge plays on both sides, and we’ll highlight a few below.
Naturally, we’ll start with Florida State visiting a rain-soaked Death Valley in 1988. The #10 Seminoles arrived with visions of toppling the #3 Tigers in the first matchup between the two programs in 12 years. The atmosphere was as electric as the field was drenched, with over 82,000 fans in attendance. Fashion was even a high point of conversation. As Seminole historian Bill McGrotha wrote at the time, Clemson came out in its special orange pants, in which it had won 14 of 15 previous big games. Florida State was dressed in new white pants presented by actor Burt Reynolds, and it was the first time Florida State had worn white pants since Reynolds’ playing days in the late ‘50s. Reynolds had sent the pants the prior year but they had not been worn. “We thought we’d just use our white ones to trump ‘em,” Bowden quipped.
Trailing 14-7 after a sloppy first half, Deion Sanders knew he needed to inject life into his team. Prime Time famously called his shot white awaiting a punt. What he did next was pure magic in motion, causing Clemson fans to pelt the end zone with trash.
FSU would later pull ahead behind the arm of QB Chip Ferguson, with Clemson tying things up in the 4th. That’s when history happened, with Bobby Bowden calling one of the gutsiest trick play calls in the history of college football.
The Seminoles would kick a field goal to seal the deal in Death Valley, leaving the Clemson faithful stunned.
The following season, the 10th-ranked Tigers came to Tallahassee with revenge on their minds, sick of hearing about the Puntrooskie. They jumped all over FSU, at one time leading 28-7, behind a strong run game and interception return for a touchdown. The loss dropped the Seminoles to 0-2 on the young season, but it also served as a catalyst for the decade of FSU dominance to come.
The Seminoles would play 7 ranked teams in the 1992 season, with only one game as a home contest. #5 FSU traveled to #15 Clemson for its first true ACC road game. The Clemson faithful were in full-throated hatred early and often, with Puntrooskie memories still on their minds.
Each team had 4 turnovers but Charlie Ward provided late-game heroics by leading a scoring drive capped by a Kevin Knox touchdown catch with just over two minutes remaining. The Seminoles sealed the victory with an interception, and the ‘Noles once again left Clemson faithful broken-hearted.
Over the next several seasons, FSU rattled off four straight dominant performances over the Tigers, including two shutout wins. The 1993 game was a 57-0 shellacking, with a highlight coming via the vaunted Seminole defense’s second goal line stand (the first having come against Kansas). I will never get tired of watching Derrick Brooks come in like a freight train on 3rd and goal.
FSU vs. Clemson for Bobby Bowden’s 200th victory at Florida State.
Just watch and enjoy!
1999 brought the first iteration of the Bowden Bowl, with Clemson having hired Tommy Bowden following his impressive run at Tulane. The Seminoles welcomed back Peter Warrick from suspension but sloppy play nearly cost FSU, with Warrick suffering multiple drops and Sebastian Janikowski uncharacteristically missing two field goal attempts. The ‘Noles survived, and Bobby Bowden won his 300th game as a head coach.
The 2000 matchup wasn’t nearly as close as the year before. Defending national champions #4 Florida State completely dismantled the #10 Tigers in Tallahassee, with “Who’s your daddy?” chants raining down upon Tommy Bowden before the game’s end. The Seminoles racked up 771 yards of offense on the night, with Chris Weinke throwing for 521 yards on 27 completions and two touchdowns, including this beauty that has gone down in Seminole history (enjoy the crowd noise):
As fun as 2000 was for Seminole fans, the 2003 matchup in Death Valley turned out to be a house of horrors. The third-ranked Seminoles arrived in Clemson with an 8-1 record and national title aspirations, only to be held to 11 yards rushing and 10 points behind a paltry performance from QB Chris Rix and an uninspired evening of play. To this day, some of us still wonder about the outcome of this one. Tommy Bowden was considered a lame-duck coach who could be fired if the Tigers lost another game to FSU. Instead, Clemson ended an 11-game losing streak to FSU and Tommy got a three-year contract extension at the end of the season. Families are complicated, y’all.
Let’s fast-forward a bit. The year is 2012, and the Seminoles find themselves in another top-10 tilt against the Tigers. #4 FSU hosted #10 Clemson in a wild affair, with a loaded Tigers squad intent on pulling the upset and making a national statement. Tajh Boyd and his arsenal of skill position weapons had a good evening, but Seminoles QB EJ Manuel turned in perhaps his greatest performance in garnet and gold. Manuel accounted for 482 yards of offense (380 through the air, 102 on the ground) and masterfully directed to Seminoles to a shootout victory.
In 2013, much of the talk centered around Clemson. The #3 Tigers were hosting the #5 Seminoles in a revenge game, with many expecting Tajh Boyd to lead the Tigers to a home victory and cement Clemson’s national standing and title aspirations. Jameis Winston and FSU had other ideas, and what resulted was among my most enjoyable game-watching experiences as a Seminoles fan. Sit back and re-live it, y’all... and compare that pregame atmosphere to the postgame atmosphere. Just beautiful.
The following year, the top-ranked Seminoles hosted the #22 Tigers but found themselves without their Heisman QB, as Jameis Winston was suspended and relegated to cheerleading on the sidelines. Sean Maguire started his first game as a Seminole and was able to weather a roller-coaster performance. Things looked rough after he threw an interception with just over two minutes remaining, but DT Eddie Goldman came up with a timely forced fumble that FSU recovered to send the game into overtime.
With fresh memories of two missed chip-shot field goals, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney elected to go for it on 4th and 1 in overtime. Bad decision. Clemson was stuffed, and two plays later, Karlos Williams waltzed into the endzone to give the ‘Noles a huge victory.
1970: Florida State 38, Clemson 13
1975: Florida State 43, Clemson 7
1976: Clemson 15, Florida State 12
1988: Florida State 24, Clemson 21
1989: Clemson 34, Florida State 23
1992: Florida State 24, Clemson 20
1993: Florida State 57, Clemson 0
1994: Florida State 17, Clemson 0
1995: Florida State 45, Clemson 26
1996: Florida State 34, Clemson 3
1997: Florida State 35, Clemson 28
1998: Florida State 48, Clemson 0
1999: Florida State 17, Clemson 14
2000: Florida State 54, Clemson 7
2001: Florida State 41, Clemson 27
2002: Florida State 48, Clemson 31
2003: Clemson 26, Florida State 10
2004: Florida State 41, Clemson 22
2005: Clemson 35, Florida State 14
2006: Clemson 27, Florida State 20
2007: Clemson 24, Florida State 18
2008: Florida State 41, Clemson 27
2009: Clemson 40, Florida State 24
2010: Florida State 16, Clemson 13
2011: Clemson 35, Florida State 30
2012: Florida State 49, Clemson 37
2013: Florida State 51, Clemson 14
2014: Florida State 23, Clemson 17 (OT)
2015: Clemson 23, Florida State 13
2016: Clemson 37, Florida State 34
2017: Clemson 31, Florida State 14
2018: Clemson 59, Florida State 10
2019: Clemson 45, Florida State 14
2021: Clemson 30, Florida State 20