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Matchups and Memories: Series history between FSU and Syracuse

The surging Seminoles head north this weekend.

Syracuse v Florida State Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Before we begin — just a reminder from last week:


After vanquishing their foes down south, the newly bowl-eligible and 23rd-ranked 6-3 Florida State Seminoles head north to meet the 6-3 Syracuse Orange, who find themselves on a 3-game losing streak after starting 6-0. The game will kick off at 8:00 p.m. EST on the ACC Network.

The Seminoles and Orange(men) have met on the gridiron 14 times. Florida State holds a 12-2 lead in the series. Let’s take a look back at some of the moments that have thus far defined FSU-Syracuse.

The first matchup between the Seminoles and the Orangemen came in 1966. Syracuse pounded FSU on the ground, with future Hall of Famers Floyd Little and Larry Csonka combining for 258 yards and 4 touchdowns. The ‘Cuse defense intercepted Seminoles QB Gary Pajcic twice as Syracuse took the first victory in the series... though they wouldn’t taste victory against the Garnet and Gold for another 52 years.

The next meeting between the schools came in 1978, when Bobby Bowden led the #17 Seminoles to a shutout victory over Syracuse in its last season playing outside in Archbold Stadium. The defense, led by Ron Simmons, Willie Jones, Paul Piurowski, and Reggie Herring, knocked Syracuse star QB Bill Hurley out of the game with several cracked ribs and never let the Orangemen come close to scoring.

The next meeting came in 1989, which saw #22 FSU dismantle the #17 Orangemen 41-10. Syracuse’s 16-game home winning streak was ended that day, which saw the defense record 10 sacks, Terrell Buckley’s 69-yard punt return touchdown forever immortalized as the “Foola from Pascagoula” play, and an 87-yard interception return touchdown from Leroy Butler 3 minutes later.

1991 saw the only top-10 matchup between Florida State and Syracuse, with the #10 Orangemen coming to Tallahassee to meet the top-ranked Seminoles. Syracuse had pounded then-5th ranked Florida 38-21 two weeks earlier and was led by the fastest man in college football, Qadry “the Missile” Ishmail. The Seminoles were fresh off of a 51-31 dismantling of Michigan in the Big House.

Ishmail was deadly early on with a flea-flicker touchdown catch and kickoff return touchdown, but the Syracuse scoring would end there as Seminoles eventually settled down on defense and shut out the Orangemen the rest of the way. Casey Weldon tossed three touchdown passes and the Seminoles racked up 642 total yards of offense, setting a school record in the process.

2013 was not competitive on the field, but notably prophetic as the Seminoles defeated Syracuse 59-3 in front of the 1993 National Championship team, which made its way back to Tallahassee to be celebrated on its 20th anniversary. Here are some fun highlights with plenty of notable names from the 2013 squad, which would go on to win a national championship of its own:

From the highest of highs to significant lows, the 2017 matchup saw a notably worse FSU program take on a sub-.500 Syracuse. Cam Akers, in his freshman season, ran for 199 yards and two touchdowns as the Seminoles held on for a victory after ‘Cuse missed a field goal wide-right as time expired.

Last year’s game was another exciting affair, with the Seminoles again winning by three points. In a mistake-filled game with some truly wild scoring plays, the Seminoles rode the legs of Jordan Travis in the final minute to set up Ryan Fitzgerald for the winning field goal as time expired.

Year-by-year results:

1966: Syracuse 37, Florida State 21

1978: Florida State 28, Syracuse 0

1989: Florida State 41, Syracuse 10

1991: Florida State 46, Syracuse 14

2004: Florida State 17, Syracuse 13

2005: Florida State 38, Syracuse 14

2013: Florida State 59, Syracuse 3

2014: Florida State 38, Syracuse 20

2015: Florida State 45, Syracuse 21

2016: Florida State 45, Syracuse 14

2017: Florida State 27, Syracuse 24

2018: Syracuse 30, Florida State 7

2019: Florida State 35, Syracuse 17

2021: Florida State 33, Syracuse 30