By Bob Thomas
Associate Sports Information Director
Dating to 1951, the tradition-steeped Florida State-Miami football rivalry is the oldest and most-played rivalry for each program. It is rich in both history and national significance, with the Seminoles and Hurricanes combining for eight national championships. And while it is often said that there is a level of respect shared between the schools, it has not tempered the ferocity of competition on the field. As the teams prepare to square off for the 59th time Saturday, there is no better time to take a look at five of the biggest hits the Seminoles have delivered in series history:
1. Nigel Bradham Levels LaRon Byrd (2011)
The most recent and vivid big hit in a long line of them was delivered by FSU linebacker Nigel Bradham in 2011, with the Seminoles leading 23-13 at home with 1:49 to play and the Hurricanes on the march. UM quarterback Jacory Harris’ pass led tight end LaRon Byrd directly to Bradham, who lowered his shoulder into Byrd’s sternum, dislodging the football. Bradham was encircled by yellow penalty flags and ejected for targeting – a ruling the ACC office later recognized was incorrect.
2. Stanford Samuels’ Splatters Roscoe Parrish (2003)
Seminole cornerback and Miami native Stanford Samuels was immortalized with his blast of Roscoe Parrish in 2003 when the teams squared off in a driving rainstorm at Doak Campbell Stadium. Trailing 6-0 with the ‘Canes on the move in FSU territory, UM quarterback Brock Berlin spotted Parrish on a crossing route. Parrish bobbled the ball and was immediately greeted by Samuels, who put his helmet directly on the UM receiver’s jersey number, prompting FSU broadcaster Gene Deckerhoff’s call: “Roscoe Parrish is sawed in two. Stanford Samuels took no prisoners.”
3. Marvin Jones Goes “Shade Tree” On ‘Canes (1992)
To this day the photograph of FSU middle linebacker Marvin “Shade Tree” Jones’ chest-to-chest blast of Miami tailback Larry Jones in the 1992 game remains the most iconic defensive photo in the history of the program. In his final season with the Seminoles, the Miami-born Jones won the Butkus and Lombardi awards and placed fourth in the Heisman Trophy balloting. In the process of breaking up Gino Torretta’s screen pass while helping UM’s Jones get parallel to the Orange Bowl turf, the Seminole star recorded a signature play to his consensus All-American season.
4. Greg Jones Goes Bowling On Sean Taylor (2004)
FSU tailback Greg Jones was well-known for his punishing running style, but on a single 24-yard bolt against the ‘Canes in the 2004 Orange Bowl, he showed everyone that he belonged in the NFL (by taking on three future NFL’ers in one barreling run). Taking the handoff, Jones ran through a Vince Wilfork arm tackle, past Jonathan Vilma, then trucked Sean Taylor, tacking on his final 12 yards after the contact. The run set up FSU’s second touchdown for an early 14-3 lead.
5. Ernie Sims & Charles Howard Inflict 2-for-1 Pain (2004)
One single play in the same 2004 Orange Bowl meeting between the Noles and Canes, produced a pair of hits worthy of inclusion on this list. With the ‘Noles trailing 16-14 with 5:37 remaining in the third and the Hurricanes driving, Ernie Sims and Charles Howard teamed for a key third-down stop. Almost simultaneously, Sims leveled intended receiver Kellen Winslow Jr. – the ball falling incomplete – as Howard was dropping Brock Berlin on the small of his back.