By Bob Thomas
Associate Sports Information Director
Florida State and Notre Dame meet Saturday for the eighth time, but just the second with both teams ranked in the top five nationally. Five of the seven previous meetings between the schools have been decided by a touchdown or less. The Seminoles lead the all-time series 5-2, which have featured both dazzling individual efforts and impressive collaborative performances. Here are five of the top performances by the Seminoles against the Irish as an appetizer for the first meeting between the schools at Doak Campbell Stadium since 2002:
1. Too Much Kanell-to-Cooper in ’96 Orange Bowl
Quarterback Danny Kanell and receiver Andre Cooper perfected the back shoulder, jump ball pass over the course of the 1995 season, then unleashed it against Notre Dame in a 31-26 Orange Bowl victory. The duo combined for three touchdown passes with the third and final strike – a 3-yard connection in the back of the end zone with 6:09 remaining – completing FSU’s rally from a 12-point, fourth quarter deficit. Kanell overcame a pair of interceptions and a costly safety by passing for 290 yards and four scores, including an Orange Bowl record three by Cooper. The rally began with Kanell’s 11-yard scoring strike to E.G. Green.
Andre Cooper after the Orange Bowl win over the Irish.
2. Dunn and Preston Power Noles in ’94 Texaco Classic
One year after Notre Dame overpowered FSU in the “Game of the Century” in South Bend, the Seminoles turned the tables in the Texaco Classic, at Orlando’s Citrus Bowl. Florida State’s tailback tandem of Rock Preston (165 yards) and Warrick Dunn (163) proved too much for the Irish as the Seminoles powered their way to 332 rushing yards. Dunn’s 5-yard touchdown run with 2:53 to go and Dan Mowrey’s point-after sealed the 23-16 victory, with help from a defense that harassed quarterback Ron Powlus and limited the Fighting Irish to 221 total yards.
Warrick Dunn rushed for 163 yards against Notre Dame in 1994.
3. Rix-to-Thorpe Leads to Historic ’03 Romp in South Bend
Quarterback Chris Rix, benched a year earlier for a turnover-plagued performance against the Irish at home, found wide receiver Craphonso Thorpe early and often to hand the hosts the worst shutout home defeat in program history. Rix passed for 327 yards and three scores – two to Thorpe covering 35 and 38 yards – as he Seminoles silenced the Notre Dame crowd with a 37-0 victory. An ACC champion sprinter, Thorpe repeatedly beat the Irish secondary deep and finished with 217 yards on seven receptions; the sixth-best yardage performance by a receiver in FSU history. The Seminoles’ defense intercepted Brady Quinn three times, capped by Leroy Smith’s 90-yard return for the final score of the game.
Craphonso Thorpe had 217 yards receiving in South Bend in 2003.
4. Freshman Greene Collects Game-Winner, 2011 Champs MVP
Stifled early by Notre Dame’s defense in the Champs Sports Bowl, the Seminoles roared back with 18 unanswered points in the second half to turn back the Irish, 18-14 in a Champs Sports Bowl victory. FSU quarterback EJ Manuel, playing on a fractured leg, threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to freshman Rashad Greene with 13:18 to remaining for the Seminoles’ first lead at 15-14. Greene caught five passes for 99 yards, including a diving 15-yard third-down attempt that led to FSU’s first touchdown and an acrobatic, 42-yarder along the Irish sideline which set up a Dustin Hopkins field goal for the final points.
Rashad Greene’s Champs Bowl MVP performance was a sign of things to come.
5. Collaborative Effort Delivers ’81 Octoberfest Win
Midway through a five-game stretch of road dates at Nebraska, Ohio State, Pitt and LSU, the No. 20 Seminoles made their first trip to South Bend, Ind. Quarterback Rick Stockstill’s second TD pass of the game to Michael Whiting – a 5-yarder with 7:41 remaining – was the game-winner, but it was a collective effort by the Seminoles that sparked a 19-13 victory. Ricky Williams ran for 135 yards and the special teams produced two Mike Rendina field goals and Rohn Stark’s field-changing 48.8 punting average. Linebacker Tommy Young had 15 tackles as the defense forced three turnovers and limited the Irish to 256 total yards.
Michael Whiting caught the game-winner in FSU’s first trip to South Bend.