Five Key Games In The Florida-Florida State Rivalry

It’s one of college football’s biggest rivalries, a deep distain between two schools that seems to rarely take a break. It’s a competition that divides friends, families and marriages.

It’s Florida-Florida State.

The Gators and Seminoles add a new chapter in their prestigious history Saturday in Tallahassee. The Gators are 34-22-2 in the series, and will look to close out Will Muschamp’s final game as head coach with a win. For Florida State, the team looks to extend their 27-game winning streak as they keep their playoff hopes alive.

No matter what is at stake for the two teams, it will be another game either team will do whatever to earn state bragging rights over the other.

In honor of Saturday’s game, we took a look at five key games in the series:

1958: Florida State v.s. Florida (#12)

Florida State was founded in 1851, however, the Buckman Act of 1905 combined several state schools in to three: One for white males (Florida), one for white females (Florida State) and for African-Americans (Florida A&M). However, the demand brought on by returning veterans from World War II led to the school returning back to coeducational status in May 1947. That fall the school would put together a football program and in the coming years would look to play Florida, despite lack of interest from those in Gainesville.

In 1955, the Florida Senate failed to pass a bill that mandated the schools play each other. However, three years later, with the help of Gov. Leroy Collins, the schools agreed to play one another. Florida State and Florida would play the first game of a soon-to-be fierce rivalry November 22, 1958. The Gators would win 21-7, the first of a three-game winning streak.


1991: Florida State (#3) v.s. Florida (#5)

As a quarterback at Florida, Steve Spurrier’s team went 3-1 against the Seminoles. While he had a sub-.500 head coaching record against The Team Out West (4-7-1), Spurrier’s first win over the state rival was highlighted by a big play to Harrison Houston to give the Gators a 14-3 lead. The defense would hold off the Seminole offense, only allowing two more field goal to give the Orange & Blue a 14-9 win. In addition to the Head Ball Coach’s first win over Florida State, the Gators would win their first SEC Championship that year.


1997: Florida State (#1) v.s. Florida (#10)

It’s nicknamed “The Greatest Game In The Swamp.” Given the high scoring, drama and intensity, it’s understandable why it has earned that title. Down 29-25 with 2:33 left in the game, Doug Johnson connected with Jacquez Green on a 63-yard pass on the first play of the drive. Fred Taylor, who had a big day on the ground, followed up the pass play with a 15-yard run. The Gators hurried back to the Florida State two-yard line, feeding the ball back to Taylor. The running back scored his fourth touchdown of the day. With 1:46 left in the game, the Gators defense pressured FSU quarterback Thad Busby, sacking him around the line of scrimmage. After an incompletion on second down, Florida sealed the game with an interception on the following play. Florida would go on to win the Citrus Bowl that season and the Seminoles’ national titles hopes were dashed.


2004: Florida v.s. Florida State (#10)

It’s the game that has this year’s contest has been compared to. Ten years before Will Muschamp was fired, Ron Zook was let go during the season, staying on board for the final four games of the year. The 7-4 Gators were heavy underdogs on the road against the 10th-ranked Seminoles, who had a strong secondary featuring Antonio Cromartie and Pat Watkins. In a contest that was close in many statistical categories, such as time of possession (UF- 30:48, FSU- 29:12), punts (8 apiece), and total yards (UF- 377, FSU- 348), Florida’s ability to secure 22 first downs and convert on all four red zone opportunities helped the Orange & Blue topple the Seminoles, 20-13.


2012: Florida (#6) v.s. Florida State (#10)

Before Florida State went on a 27-game winning streak, they hosted a November 24, 2012 contest against their state rival. The Gators headed into half time with a 13-3 lead, but the Seminoles would respond back with 17 points in the third quarter, including a 53-yard field goal by Dustin Hopkins. The Gators would come alive on both sides of the ball in the fourth quarter, scoring 24 points, 12 of them coming via Mike Gillislee and Matt Jones touchdown runs. Jeff Driskel would also connect with Quinton Dunbar on a 14-yard touchdown pass, and Caleb Sturgis would punch in a 32-yard field goal. The Florida defense would hold the Seminole offense scoreless in the quarter, save for an EJ Manuel touchdown run in garbage time. It would be Will Muschamp’s only win over Florida State and the team would earn a Sugar Bowl berth.

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Ryan Randall
From Melbourne, Florida, Ryan has lived in Florida since he was three, becoming a sports fan around that age. His passion for journalism rivals his love of sports. Shortly out of high school he covered prep and community sports for his hometown paper in Brevard Country, before moving to Gainesville, where he covered the Gators in the pros as well as prep sports for a few publications. A Telecommunications major at UF, Ryan now interns at Gator Country and ecstatic to showcase his talents for the publication. When not working on stories, Ryan enjoys playing basketball, music, as well as art. Follow Ryan at @_RyanRandall_