By Bob Thomas
Associate Sports Information Director
As months in the football season go, none is more defining than November. The final month of the regular season separates the good from the great, sets the stage for the bowl season and often provides foreshadowing for the season to follow. Post a perfect record in November – which Florida State has done 18 times in its first 67 seasons – and good things are almost certain to follow. With the Seminoles extending their nation-leading winning streak to 26 games with a 2-0 start this month, heading into Saturday’s “Senior Day” game with Boston College, here’s a look at the five most perfect Novembers in FSU football history:
1. Noles Drop No. 1 Florida to cap 5-0 November in ‘96
Behind Warrick Dunn’s career-high 185 rushing yards and a dominating defensive effort which included six sacks of Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel, the second-ranked Seminoles knocked off No. 1 Florida 24-21 at Doak Campbell Stadium to complete just the second 11-0 regular season in program history. In just the fourth showdown between unbeaten teams in college football history in the final regular season game, FSU finished off a 5-0 November that was not without adversity. The Noles opened the month with a 49-3 win at Georgia Tech, but lost QB Thad Busby to a thumb injury. Freshman Dan Kendra made his first start the following week in Orlando and led the team to a 44-7 win over Wake Forest. A 54-14 home drubbing of No. 25 Southern Miss was followed by a 48-10 rout of Maryland at Joe Robbie Stadium. The Florida win propelled the Seminoles to No. 1 and a spot in the Sugar Bowl for a national title, only to have a wild set of circumstances force a rematch with Florida.
2. Rout of Miami Ignites Stunning Finishing Run in ‘13
Riding a string of 20 unanswered points, Florida State’s 2013 National Championship team began the month by handing No. 7 Miami its first defeat (41-14) and never looked back, en route to a perfect 5-0 November. The Seminoles outscored their five opponents 276-41, capped by a 37-7 win at Florida. The bookend wins against in-state rivals, a same-month rarity, were sandwiched with blowouts of Wake Forest (59-3), Syracuse (59-3) and Idaho (80-14). The Seminoles moved on with a win over Duke in the ACC Championship game, then rallied past Auburn for the final BCS National Championship in their first trip to Pasadena, Calif.
3. Overcoming Adversity Highlights 3-0 November Mark in ‘98
Sophomore quarterback Chris Weinke had the 8-1 Seminoles on the comeback trail after a stunning early-season loss to NC State, as they began the month ranked No. 6 with No. 12 Virginia in town. Things changed quickly in the first half against the Cavaliers when Weinke suffered a season-ending neck injury after being hit by UVa’s Patrick Kerney. Enter seldom-used QB Marcus Outzen, who finished up the second half by guiding the Noles to a 45-14 victory. A week later, FSU clinched the ACC title with a 24-7 win at Wake Forest, setting up a season-finale between the No. 5 Noles and No. 4 Florida. Outzen and wideout Peter Warrick, behind a defense that did not yield a third-down conversion, teamed up to score a 23-12 win. Warrick caught a 32-yard TD pass from Outzen, then connected with Ron Dugans on a game-sealing 46-yard pass. The win helped propel the Seminoles on to the first National Championship game in the Fiesta Bowl against Tennessee.
4. Pair of SEC Road Victories Sparks Strong Finish in ‘87
The Seminoles put the heartbreak of an early-October, 26-25 home loss to No. 3 Miami behind them to author one of the finest seasons in coach Bobby Bowden’s career. Their first serious test of FSU’s mettle came on the road at No. 6 Auburn on Nov. 7, where the Seminoles rolled to a 24-point halftime lead and were never threatened in a 34-6 triumph. Danny McManus threw three TD passes and the FSU defense limited the Tigers to just 40 rushing yards in what would be their lone loss of the season. After crushing Furman 41-10, the Noles closed out the month with a 28-17 win at Florida behind four Derek Schmidt field goals and two Dayne Williams TD runs. That victory propelled 10-1 FSU to No. 3 in the polls and a spot in the Fiesta Bowl opposite No. 5 Nebraska.
5. Seminoles Seal First 11-0 Regular Season, Orange Bowl Trip in ‘79
Behind one of the finest defensive units in program history, Florida State capped its season-long ascent up the AP poll by going 4-0 in November. The Noles endured their biggest scare of season at over-matched Cincinnati, needing 19 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to overcome a two-touchdown deficit for a 26-21 win to begin November. They followed with a 27-7 win over No. 19 South Carolina and a 66-17 blowout of Memphis State before traveling to winless Florida for the regular season finale. Clinging to a 20-16 lead with two minutes remaining, the Noles sealed the win and the perfect regular season when fullback Mark Lyles capped a career-high 151-yard rushing performance with 1:10 left in a 27-16 triumph.
Also considered: 1950 (3-0 finish to push winning streak to 12 games); 1954 (3-0 finish to secure Sun Bowl berth); 1967 (sealed Gator Bowl invite with first road win at Florida); 1988 (won final 10 games after opening loss at Miami); 1999 (went 2-0 in November with win at No. 3 Florida to set up national title and first unbeaten season in program history); 2000 (beat No. 10 Clemson and No. 4 Florida to earn Orange Bowl national title berth).