The 10th anniversary of Florida State's 1999 national championship season is reason to celebrate. The Seminoles were the first team to go wire-to-wire ranked No. 1 and remain the only undefeated team in program history. This is the second of six feature stories which will appear in Game Time this season, with coach Bobby Bowden and several players sharing their most memorable moments as we take a game-by-game look at the 12-0 campaign.
Kicking game, defense rise up to keep the momentum rolling
The Seminoles were off to a fast start in 1999, throttling Louisiana Tech, then out-scoring Georgia Tech in wild duel to move to 2-0 on the season.
Florida State's offense had shown early on that it had the makings of one of the most explosive units in the country. Yet somewhat lost in what would be a championship campaign of lopsided triumphs, was just how complete Bobby Bowden's team was.
Before the season was through the Seminoles' star-studded defensive cast, blessed with incredible speed and big-play ability, shared equal billing with explosive kicker Sebastian Janikowski leading the special teams. Those qualities came to the forefront as FSU faced Tobacco Road foes N.C. State (at home) and North Carolina (on the road) in weeks 3 and 4.
"We were looking to do the same thing defensively," said would-be All-American defensive end Jamal Reynolds. "We wanted to show people we could hold up our end of the bargain, which was to go out there and make plays and play the shortest amount of time out there offense.
"It was awesome knowing that the person that was next to you or behind you had your back. You had playmakers all around you."
That was readily apparent in the two-game stretch as the Seminoles forced 10 turnovers and scored three defensive touchdowns, while Janikowski booted five field goals - all against the Wolfpack..
"As a defense we wanted some redemption from the year before, because they had pretty much embarrassed us up there," said Reynolds, who recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown during a 42-11 rout. "We were definitely licking our chops at some payback, especially being at Doak Campbell Stadium."
After three consecutive home games to open the season, the Seminoles took their act on the road for the first time and overwhelmed North Carolina 42-10 in Chapel Hill with 28, first quarter points.
Florida State 42, N.C. State 11
Bowden was very wary of the Wolfpack, largely because of Barnette's ability to make plays with his arm and his feet, as he had in Raleigh the prior season.
"We were very concerned, because he's the one we hadn't stopped since he had been there," Bowden said. "You could imagine the feeling of doubt in us, with just respect you had."
The Seminoles led 18-3 at the half on four Janikowski field goal and a 1-yard run by fullback Dan Kendra before breaking the game open after intermission. Reynolds' fumble recovery in the end zone for a touchdown near the end of the third quarter all but finished off the Wolfpack, who could not overcome four Barnette interceptions and two lost fumbles.
Abdual Howard returned one of those interceptions 47 yards for the final score of the game.
"We finally got 'em because the defense made touchdowns," Bowden said.
Florida State 42, North Carolina 10
The crowd at UNC's Kenan Stadium had hardly settled into their seats before this one was over. FSU scored four touchdowns in the first seven minutes of the game and never looked back.
"That was one of those games where everything goes right," Bowden said. "It happens about once a year.
"Most ballgames you play are a struggle until a certain point. Here was one when you were hitting on all cylinders as soon as the ball is kicked off. That's the way you love it to happen."
Tailback Travis Minor scored on runs of 14 and 5 yards in the first four minutes of action and safety Sean Key took a Ronald Curry interception back 25 yards for a touchdown. By the time Peter Warrick raced 75 yards with a punt return at the 8:03 mark of the first quarter the Tar Heels were in a 28-0 hole they simply could not overcome.
In an otherwise anti-climactic second half, Janikowski's sixth kickoff of the game split the uprights. In all, 70 or 73 Seminoles who dressed for the game saw action.