By Bob Thomas
Associate Sports Information Director
There is something special about home-openers, whether it’s the celebration of the familiar pageantry, the renewed optimism offered by a new season or just the chance to gather with old friends for the first time in months. Then there ares the football games, which are often (but not always) lopsided affairs. How many of these five most impressive Seminole home-openers do you remember?
1. 1993: FSU 57, CLEMSON 0 (Sept. 11)
The top-ranked Seminoles christened recently expanded Doak Campbell Stadium before a then-record Doak Campbell Stadium crowd of 74,991 by handing No. 17 Clemson its worst defeat in 62 years. FSU piled up 634 total yards behind eventual Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Charlie Ward. Seven different Noles scored touchdowns including Derrick Brooks (fumble return) and Clifton Abraham (blocked punt). Lonnie Johnson’s 78-yard touchdown pass from Danny Kanell remains the longest by an FSU tight end, but what followed was even more memorable. Clemson’s Brian Dawkins – a future Pro Bowler – blocked Scott Bentley’s ensuing PAT and was racing toward the end zone when he was caught from behind by the kicker, preserving the shutout.
2. 1995: FSU 77, NC STATE 17 (Sept. 16)
Danny Kanell set an FSU mark for completion percentage (28 of 32, .875), with a career-best five touchdowns and 310 yards as the No. 1 Noles routed the Wolfpack with 28 unanswered points in the first half. A number of team and individual marks fell, as the 77 points scored set a new program record, while the 60-point margin of victory was the largest ever in an ACC game. Kanell and Thad Busby collaborated for a record seven touchdown passes. Scott Bentley kicked a school-record 11 PATs on a day when the Noles amassed 745 total yards. Receivers Andre Cooper and E.G. Green each closed the day with more than 100 yards and two touchdowns. It marked the second of three 70-point performances by FSU during the season.
3. 2013: FSU 62, NEVADA 7 (Sept. 14)
The 10th-ranked Seminoles wiped out a 7-3 second quarter deficit by rattling off the final 59 points of the game behind a menacing rushing attack. Florida State bludgeoned the Wolf Pack on the ground to the tune of 377 rushing yards on 41 carries (9.2 ypc), with six different players – Devonta Freeman, Karlos Williams, James Wilder Jr., Jameis Winston, Freddie Stevenson and Ryan Green –contributing rushing touchdowns. Williams, who played safety a week earlier, scored on a 65-yard touchdown run on his very first career carry and finished with 110 yards on eight totes. Freeman also eclipsed the 100-yard rushing standard of measure.
4. 1980: FSU 52, LOUISVILLE 0 (Sept. 13)
After opening the season on the road with a shutout of LSU, FSU coach Bobby Bowden wanted to test the 10th-ranked Seminoles’ passing attack. Rick Stockstill obliged with four touchdown passes, while reserves Blair Williams and Kelly Lowrey added one each. Future NFL players Dennis McKinnon and Zeke Mowatt combined for three TD receptions. But the story of the game was the Florida State defense. Despite playing without injured All-American nose guard Ron Simmons, the Seminoles limited the Cardinals to 56 total yards on 49 plays, yielding just five first downs. FSU forced five turnovers and Louisville was 0-for-12 on third-down attempts.
5. 1983: FSU 47, EAST CAROLINA 46 (Sept. 3)
Florida State opened the season ranked No. 7 but needed some late-game magic to pull out a wild win over East Carolina. Kelly Lowrey’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Tom Wheeler with 4:36 remaining accounted for the final points in a game which produced seven lead changes and no shortage of big plays. Greg Allen rushed for 154 yards on 33 carries and found the end zone three times, while Cedric Jones ran for 93 yards and a score. Weegie Thompson led FSU receivers with 103 yards on eight catches on a night when the visiting Pirates returned a kickoff and a blocked punt for touchdowns to keep pace.