The Miami Hurricanes and Florida State Seminoles first met on the football field in 1951 (a 35-13 Miami win) and have been playing yearly since 1969 (a 16-14 FSU win).
Miami leads the all-time series 31-29 but, as you all know, have lost the last six meetings with the ‘Noles.
I will serve as your tour guide in taking you back through the history of these two rivals, delving into the game’s greatest moments, why there is a rivalry in the first place, and how the games have historically been very close.
Why the rivalry in the first place?
There are a couple of answers to this question. Miami and Florida State have historically recruited the same South Florida schools. Whenever the two teams meet, many of the players are going up against teammates, and foes, from high school. They played against each other on Friday nights for four years in the super-competitive South Florida football talent pool.
As soon as they get to college, that high school football rivalry is translated into a once-a-year college rivalry, a rivalry which has had national title implications in many years past.
Which brings us to reason numero deuce for this rivalry.
Miami and Florida State began to consistently put together high-quality teams starting in the early 1980’s. Miami’s fortune’s on the field changed when Howard Schnellenberger came to Coral Gables for the 1979 season. By 1983, the ‘Canes would win their first National Championship.
Florida State reversed years of bad football with the arrival of coach Bobby Bowden in 1976.
Miami and Florida State played in ranked matchups for 10 straight games beginning in 1985. Seven of those matchups featured both teams ranked in the top 10 in the nation. In other words, the National Championship was on the line year after year. Let’s look at those matchups year by year, with Miami’s ranking listed first.
1985: 11/10 (Miami wins 35-27). Both teams finished in the top 15.
1986: 1/20 (Miami wins 41-23). Both teams finished in the top 20, with Miami coming in at #2.
1987: 3/4 (Miami wins 26-25). In this edition of the game, Miami was dominated by FSU for three quarters before scoring on three straight possessions to take a 26-19 lead. FSU scored with under a minute left and elected to go for two and the win. Miami stopped the two-point conversion to win the game, and they would go on to win their second National Championship later in the year (Miami would beat Nebraska 20-14 in the Orange Bowl). The Seminoles finished the season ranked #2.
1988: 6/1 (Miami wins 31-0). Miami would shutout preseason No. 1 FSU in the first game of year in the season after winning their second national title. Both teams would finish in the top three, with Miami closing the season at #2 and FSU at #3.
1989: 2/9 (FSU wins 24-10). Although Miami lost this game, they would win out the rest of the season and finish with their third National Championship, while FSU lost to a Brett Favre led Southern Miss team, finishing ranked #3.
1990: 9/2 (Miami wins 31-22). The ‘Canes and ‘Noles both finish in the top five. Miami ends the season ranked #3 while FSU clocks in at #4.
1991: 2/1 (Miami wins 17-16). In a matchup of the #1 (FSU) and #2 (Miami) teams in the country, Miami wins when a last-second, potential game-winning FSU field goal misses to the right. The game comes to be known as a “Wide Right” in Miami football folklore. The ‘Canes would go on to win their fourth National Championship later that season, shutting out Nebraska 22-0 in the Orange Bowl. FSU ended the season ranked #4.
1992: 2/3 (Miami wins 19-16). Deja vu ensues from the previous year, as Miami wins when FSU misses a last-second, potential game-tying field goal to the right. The game is forever known as “Wide Right II.” Although the ‘Canes won the rivalry, FSU finished the season at #2, ahead of No. 3 Miami.
1993: 3/1 (FSU wins 28-10). FSU would go on to win their first national title. Miami finishes the season at #15 after being shutout by No. 10 Arizona in the Fiesta Bowl.
1994: 13/3 (Miami wins 34-20). Miami finishes the season behind the No. 4 ‘Noles at #6.
In 1995 Miami lost two of their first three games, sending them into their week 4 showdown with No. 1 FSU unranked, ending the ranked matchup streak at 10 games. Between 1985 and 1995, Miami beat FSU in 11 of the 15 games played.
So yeah, these teams typically face off with a lot to play for.
Still not enough for you?
In 2000, Miami sought their first win in the rivalry since 1994. The ‘Canes took the lead late in the fourth quarter before FSU drove the ball in to field goal range. The potential game-tying kick went – you guessed it – wide to the right, sealing a 27-24 Miami victory in the “Wide Right III” game. Although Miami won the game, FSU was chosen to play in the National Championship game where they would lose to Oklahoma. Miami end up beating Florida in the Sugar Bowl, 37-20.
In 2002, Miami came from behind to take a 28-27 lead against the ‘Noles at the Orange Bowl in Miami. FSU drove down the field and attempted a last-second, potentially game-winning field goal that sailed wide – this time you might not have guessed it – left! The defending national champion ‘Canes stayed undefeated and went on to play Ohio State in the title game where Miami would
win their sixth National Championship.
Not only do these games have national title ramifications, they have also been historically close games. Twenty-two games have been decided by one possession (eight points) or less. Incredibly, nine-straight games were decided by eight points or less from 2002-2009.
Although Miami has lost six straight to the ‘Noles, they had great opportunities to win in each of the past two seasons. They almost beat a Jameis Winston led team in 2014, holding a lead into the second half.
Last year’s edition saw the ‘Canes take a lead in the fourth quarter (on a ridiculous Stacy Coley catch) before coughing up the game late.
Now, Miami hopes to turn the tide of the series, and looks to have their best shot at it since the mid-late 2000’s. FSU is coming off two straight losses while the ‘Canes are currently undefeated.
Up next in Miami, the No. 10 Miami Hurricanes and the No. 23 Florida State Seminoles.
Alex Goldman is a senior majoring in journalism with a minor in political science. He is currently the Sports Editor of distractionmagazine.com. He’s a Northern California native and loves snowboarding, writing, and above all the Green Bay Packers.