A ticket from the 2010 Gator Bowl will be the keepsake of a lifetime after beloved Seminole head coach Bobby Bowden won the last game of his historic FSU career. The Seminoles carried the nation’s longest consecutive bowl streak into the contest with the Gator Bowl marking the 28th straight bowl appearance for the Seminoles and their legendary coach. In addition, the win gave Bowden his 33rd straight winning season and moved his career record to 389-129-4. He has won more games than all but one other coach in major college football history and has won at least seven games for 28 consecutive seasons.
Bowden, who was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006, is only the third coach in college football history to coach 500 games. The Seminoles defeated Colorado in his 500th game in 2008 in Jacksonville Memorial Stadium joining him with Amos Alonzo Stagg and Penn State’s Joe Paterno. In 2007, he became one of only two coaches in major college football history to win 300 games at one school and he is the only coach in history to lead his team to 28 straight bowl games.
Bowden, one of the icons of the game, was first among active coaches for winning percentage in bowl games at the time of his retirement, and is currently second for all-time bowl wins and second for bowl appearances. He is the only coach to lead a team to 15 consecutive New Year’s Day bowl games (1991-2005) and his Seminoles are among the leaders for the most appearances in BCS bowl games with six.
Bowden is the only coach in NCAA history to win 11 consecutive bowl games (1985-95) and the only coach with 14 consecutive bowl appearances (1982-95) without a loss (FSU tied Georgia 17-17 in the 1984 Citrus Bowl). Bowden and Florida State finished the 2009 season with a win over West Virginia in the Gator Bowl marking the 22nd bowl victory in his illustrious career. Overall, he guided Florida State to 31 bowl appearances in his 34 seasons.
Bowden, the only coach in the history of Division I-A football to compile 14 straight 10-win seasons (1987-2000), coached the Seminoles to consensus National Championships in 1993 and 1999. Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward and consensus All-America linebacker Derrick Brooks led the Seminoles to their first title defeating Tom Osborne’s Nebraska team in the 1994 Orange Bowl. Bowden’s 1999 team was led by eventual Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke and they were the first team in the history of the Associated Press poll to go wire-to-wire ranked No. 1. FSU defeated a Michael Vick-led Virginia Tech team in the 2000 Sugar Bowl to complete the perfect season.
Bowden was named National Coach of the Year six times (1979, 1980, 1991, 1992, 1996 and 1999), and a national award for citizenship bears his name. FSU competed as an independent over his first 16 years with the Seminoles before joining the ACC. Bowden led Florida State to the ACC Championship 12 times including eight in a row from 1992-2000.
|Total (4 years)||31||6||0||0.838|
|Total (6 years)||42||26||0||0.618|
|2007 (Music City)||7||6||0||0.538|
|TOTAL (44 YEARS)||326||123||4||0.776|
326-123-4 (.776) • 44 Years
*Record adjusted by NCAA
ABOUT BOBBY BOWDEN…
BORN – November 8, 1929 in Birmingham, Ala.
HIGH SCHOOL – Woodlawn High, Birmingham, Ala.
COLLEGE – Howard (now Samford) 1953
COLLEGIATE FOOTBALL EXPERIENCE – University of Alabama (QB), freshman; Howard (QB), sophomore-senior
GRADUATE DEGREE – Peabody College
WIFE – The former Julia Ann Estock of Birmingham, Ala.
CHILDREN – Robyn, Steve, Tommy, Terry, Ginger, Jeff
HEAD COACHING HONORS
1977 Southern Independent Coach of the Year
1979 National Coach of the Year (ABC-Chevrolet)
1979 Southern Independent Coach of the Year
1980 National Coach of the Year (Bobby Dodd)
1983 Inducted – Florida Sports Hall of Fame
1986 Inducted – Alabama Sports Hall of Fame
1987 Region II Coach of the Year
1991 National Coach of the Year (Walter Camp)
1992 Neyland Award Winner
1993 ACC Coach of the Year
1996 National Coach of the Year (Home Depot)
1997 ACC Coach of the Year
1999 National Coach of the Decade Finalist (Home Depot)
1999 ESPN Names FSU Football Team of the Decade (any sport)
2006 Inducted – National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame
2008 Winner – NCFAA Contributions to College Football Award
2004 Florida State’s field at Doak Campbell Stadium named for Bowden
2004 Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ Top National Award named for Bowden
2007 Awarded Gold Medal by National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame
2010 Birmingham Touchdown Club renames its National Coach of the Year award for Bowden
2012 Inducted in Florida State Athletics Hall of Fame
2021 Florida Governor Ron DeSantis presents first-ever Florida Medal of Freedom to Bowden
NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year presented to former players Warrick Dunn, Derrick Brooks and Anquan Boldin
Inheriting a program that was 4-29 over the previous three seasons, Florida State coach Bobby Bowden eclipsed that victory total in his first season. The Seminoles lost their first three games – all on the road – but Bowden made the decision to build for the future and started seven freshmen in a 24-9 loss at Oklahoma, the final stop of the road swing. That move would pay huge dividends in both the immediate and distant future. FSU recorded the first of Bowden’s 315 FSU victories against Kansas State in his home debut (Oct. 2), rallying from a 10-0 halftime deficit to a 20-10 triumph. A week later the ‘Noles upset No. 13 Boston College 28-9 on the road. It was the program’s first win over a ranked team since 1968. In three narrow defeats – against Florida, Auburn and Clemson – FSU continued to show progress. The payoff came down the stretch as the Seminoles won their final three games, which began with a miraculous fourth quarter rally from a 17-point deficit to spring a 30-27 homecoming win over Southern Mississippi. Rudy Thomas’ 95-yard touchdown dash with a Jimmy Black screen pass was the difference and touched off a sequence of long touchdown plays. The Seminoles added three more touchdown plays of 90 or more yards in wins over North Texas State (in the snow) and Virginia Tech to close out the season. Against North Texas, Kurt Unglaub plowed his way through five inches of snow with a Black pass, covering 91 yards for a third quarter touchdown. Unglaub hauled in the winning two-point conversion pass from tailback Larry Key with 2:13 remaining in a 21-20 triumph. A week later at home against the Hokies, Key raced 97 yards for a school record touchdown run that still stands and Unglaub collected a 96-yard scoring pass from Jimmy Jordan that was the difference in a 28-21 victory and a 5-6 finish to the season. Tight end Ed Beckman and offensive tackle Jon Thames earned first-team All-South Independent selections.
Carrying the momentum from ’76 forward, Bowden welcomed one of his finest recruiting classes, headlined by a freshman nose guard who would eventually be inducted in the College Football Hall of Fame – Ron Simmons. The season also marked the dawning of the two-headed quarterback, best known as Wally Jim Jordham, which in actuality was a composite of triggermen Wally Woodham and Jimmy Jordan and gained national attention for Bowden and FSU. Bowden leaned on both throughout the season, often sticking with the hottest hand. The Seminoles won their first two games, extending their winning streak to five; the longest by an FSU team since ’71. After stumbling at home to Miami, the ‘Noles rattled off six consecutive victories, beginning with a 25-17 win at defending Big Eight champion Oklahoma State and including a 24-3 win over Auburn which earned FSU a No. 20 national ranking. FSU’s first win over the Tigers in 11 tries would not have been possible without Larry Key’s then school-record 170 rushing yards and Simmons’ 19 tackles, including five sacks and three tackles for loss. The Seminoles’ momentum was snapped in a 41-16 loss at San Diego State, which left them with an 8-2 record heading to rival Florida, which had won nine consecutive times in the series. That skid came to a screeching halt as the Seminoles put a 37-9 whipping on the Gators behind 143 rushing yards from Key and three Roger Overby TD receptions from Jordan. The Seminoles followed with the first of 31 bowl trips under Bowden and summarily dispatched over-matched Texas Tech 40-17 in the Tangerine Bowl for the first 10-win (10-2) season in school history. Bowden earned a new five-year contract on the heels of what would be the first of 18, 10-win seasons. Seven Seminoles would earn All-South Independent honors, including first-teamers Key and Mike Shumann (WR), Wade Johnson (OG), Willie Jones (DE) and Nat Terry (DB).
Inspired by the success of the ‘77 team and further fueled by a sophomore-laden defense, the Seminoles were ready to take on the world, boasting the school’s first preseason ranking (No. 17). The school would also reveal what has since become FSU’s signature symbols – Osceola riding atop Renegade and planting his flaming spear at midfield. They made their debut in a 38-20 home-opening victory against Oklahoma State, which had followed a 28-0 season-opening romp at Syracuse. The Seminoles moved to 3-0 as Bowden logged his first win over Miami (31-21), pushing the program to its highest ranking (No. 10). It proved to be a short-lived stay as FSU’s rally fell short against Houston, 27-21. Jimmy Jordan’s 54-yard touchdown pass to Sam Platt with 1:29 remaining sealed a 26-21 win over Cincinnati before the ‘Noles were routed on the road by Mississippi State 55-27 and suffered a 7-3 loss to Pittsburgh in a defensive, road struggle. Suddenly, the Seminoles were 4-3 and at a crossroads. Despite four consecutive wins – capped by a 38-21 win over Florida – to close out an 8-3 campaign, the Seminoles were not selected for a second consecutive bowl berth. Bowden later admitted the school’s inexperience dealing with bowl officials and its late-season swoon conspired to keep the ‘Noles from the postseason. Defensive end Willie Jones, one of five first-team All-South honorees, was selected in the second round of the NFL Draft by Oakland after winning Senior Bowl MVP honors.
With the Seminoles growing up quickly, they entered the ’79 season with a No. 19 national ranking and once again filled with high hopes. Those hopes may have been dashed were it not for Gary Henry’s 65-yard punt return for a touchdown with 6:28 remaining in a 17-14 win over Southern Miss. A rainy, blowout of Arizona State (31-3) in Tampa was followed by a rout of Miami (40-23) and an ugly 17-10 win at Virginia Tech. With the Tribe rolling, Louisville and Mississippi State were no match, mustering a total of six points as FSU improved to 6-0 and headed to Baton Rouge for the first of five consecutive meetings with LSU – all on the road – thanks to former AD Clay Stapleton’s scheduling. Jimmy Jordan threw for 312 yards and three touchdowns in a 24-19 triumph. A week later Wally Woodham led the way, guiding the now-No. 6 Seminoles to 19 fourth-quarter points in a 26-21 road rally at Cincinnati, equaling the best start in program history. That win, coupled with LSU’s pursuit of Bowden for their coaching vacancy, earned him a new deal ($125,000 annually) just in time for South Carolina to drop in at Doak Campbell Stadium on homecoming. The Seminoles limited the Gamecocks to an 80-yard TD run by eventual Heisman Trophy winner George Rogers and rolled to 9-0 with a 27-7 victory. An hour before FSU took the field against Memphis State, the Orange Bowl extended the ‘Noles an invitation, much to the chagrin of the Tigers who suffered a 66-17 pummeling. The regular season finale against 1-9 Florida in Gainesville was up in the air until Mark Lyles rumbled three yards for a touchdown and a 27-16 victory. At 11-0 and No. 4 in the polls, the Seminoles had come full circle in a seven-year span under the direction of AD John Bridgers, who was responsible for bringing Bowden to Tallahassee. Bridgers tendered his resignation before the Orange Bowl date with Oklahoma and was not on hand to see Sooners QB J.C. Watts and talented tailbacks Billy Sims and Stanley Wilson deny FSU a perfect season with a 24-7 victory. Ron Simmons was honored as a consensus All-American and a cast of Seminoles received honorable mention and All-South honors as well, but the ’79 team was every bit as bright as it was talented. Defensive back Keith Jones, defensive end Scott Warren and wide receiver Phil Williams each earned Academic All-American distinction and FSU’s defense would go down as one of its best ever.
As encore acts go, the 1980 Seminoles were a formidable lot, despite the loss of Wally Jim Jordham. The quarterback job went to Rick Stockstill, who guided a conservative attack in a 16-0 win at LSU before Bowden loosened the reigns. Stockstill and the ‘Noles punched out Louisville and East Carolina in consecutive weeks by a combined score of 115-7, extending FSU’s regular season winning streak to 18 games. That run came to a halt at Miami on Sept. 27 when Hurricanes’ nose guard Jim Burt wrecked havoc on a third-team center, culminating with his game-sealing break-up of a Stockstill pass attempt to a wide open Phil Williams in the end zone with 39 seconds remaining. Miami prevailed 10-9, but the ‘Noles would run the table over the next seven weeks. It didn’t take long for FSU to post what Bowden called “the greatest” victory of his career. On Oct. 4, the ‘Noles traveled to No. 3 Nebraska and downed the vaunted Cornhuskers 18-14. Linebacker Paul Piurowski delivered the clinching blow with a fumble-forcing blast of quarterback Jeff Quinn after the Cornhuskers drove to the FSU 3 with 21 ticks left on the clock. Gary Futch recovered the fumble to seal the win on a day when punter Rohn Stark (seven punts, 48.4 avg) and kicker Bill Capece (four field goals) carried the load. The triumph earned the Seminoles a rousing ovation from Nebraska fans on the way to the locker room, a gesture that Bowden would never forget. A week later, the FSU crowd supplied the soundtrack as the Seminoles forced seven turnovers, Stockstill threw three touchdowns passes and the punt/kick tandem of Stark and Capece delivered a 36-22 win over No. 4 Pittsburgh, 36-22. Over the next four games – all victories – FSU yielded just 19 points to set up a season-finale at No. 19 Florida. With an Orange Bowl berth in hand, the ‘Noles used a pair of Stockstill-to-Hardis Johnson touchdown passes in a 17-13 home victory. Now No. 2 in the land, FSU had a score to settle with No. 4 Oklahoma and its returning QB J.C. Watts. More competitive than a year earlier, the Seminoles saw their national championship hopes doused when they dropped two interceptions on Oklahoma’s game-winning drive. Watts’ 11-yard TD pass to Steve Rhodes and the subsequent two-point conversion toss to Forrest Valera was the difference in an 18-17 defeat. Two points was all that separated the Seminoles from a perfect finish to the great careers of Ken Lanier, Bobby Butler, Monk Bonasorte, Reggie Herring, Piurowski, Jones and Capece.
Bobby Bowden and the Seminoles faced a significant rebuilding job in 1981, but the remnants the road scheduling was effectively a demolition ball to a club with just six returning starters. Following opening wins over Louisville and Memphis State, FSU embarked on a five-week road trip that would earn the nickname “Oktoberfest.” Road games at No. 17 Nebraska, No. 7 Ohio State, unranked Notre Dame, No. 13 Pittsburgh and LSU in succession would take a toll on the Seminoles, but would also win over fans from coast-to-coast. FSU managed to go 3-2 over that stretch with wins over the Buckeyes (36-17), Fighting Irish (19-13) and Tigers (38-14). QB Rick Stockstill guided a 99-yard touchdown drive, capped by Ricky Williams’ 3-yard run at Ohio State. Williams’ 135 yards was the difference at Notre Dame, while a freshman tailback – Greg Allen – stole the show by hanging a school-record 202 rushing yards on LSU. Equally impressive were the stars of the winning host teams during that road trip: Nebraska’s Roger Craig (234 rushing yards) and Pitt QB Dan Marino (251 passing yards, 3 TDs). The Seminoles had just enough left in the tank to dismantle Western Carolina, thanks to Allen’s NCAA freshman record 322 rushing yards (417 all-purpose), but nothing more. With its wilting defense, FSU limped to a 6-5 finish following losses to Miami, Southern Miss and Florida. “We just flat ran out of gas there in the last three games,” Bowden said. “There were just too many physical and emotional highs.”
Looking to rebound from a disappointing 6-5 finish a season ago, Bowden led a young and hungry Seminole squad to a 9-3 record and a final ranking of No. 7 in the AP top 25 poll in 1982, FSU’s third top 10 finish in seven seasons under Bowden. FSU provided a well-balanced offensive attack throughout the season led by Greg Allen who rushed for 776 yards and a school record 20 touchdowns. The Seminoles finished the season ranked second and third nationally in scoring and total offense, respectively, while setting single-season records for total offense (5,124 yards), touchdowns (53), rushing yards (2,339 yards), rushing touchdowns (30) and scoring with 388 total points. Quarterback Kelly Lowrey became the first Seminole to run for, pass for and catch a touchdown in an upset victory on the road at Ohio State. Two weeks later in Tallahassee, FSU tallied a school record 706 yards of total offense in a 56-17 win over East Carolina, a record that would stand for 10 years. At one point during the season, FSU rattled off seven consecutive victories which tied for the second longest win streak in the Bowden era. In what will forever be known as ‘the year the streak began,’ Florida State closed out the season facing West Virginia in the 1982 Gator Bowl beginning what is now 29 consecutive bowl game appearances. The game also marked the first time Bowden had faced West Virginia, a school where he had coached for six seasons before taking over as head coach at Florida State in 1976. Behind a dominate performance by Gator Bowl MVP Greg Allen, who rushed for 138 yards on 15 carries, the Seminoles defeated the Mountaineers 31-12. Fast forward 28 years to 2009 as Bowden’s final game as head coach of the Seminoles will take place in Jacksonville at the Gator Bowl against West Virginia.
Florida State’s 51-7 pounding of Louisville gave Bobby Bowden victory No. 63 as Seminole head coach making him the all-time winningest coach at FSU in just his eighth season in Tallahassee. The season included three monumental victories all coming on the road including a dominate performance over North Carolina in the 16th Annual Peach Bowl as FSU finished the year with a record of 7-5. Making his first career start at quarterback, FSU’s Eric Thomas fired a pair of first quarter touchdowns to lead the Noles to a stunning 28-3 win over the Tar Heels. Thomas, who earned MVP honors, also ran for a score, while the Seminole defense held UNC to just 198 total yards. In the second game of the season, the Seminoles erased a 14-0 first quarter deficit in Baton Rouge, scoring 33 unanswered points to take a 40-35 victory over No. 13 LSU. Then came ‘The Drive’ in Tempe against Arizona State. With the Seminoles down four late in the fourth quarter and Kelly Lowrey out of the game with a knee injury, Bowden turned to backup quarterback Bob Davis for the winning drive. Davis drove the Seminoles 82 yards and pulled off the miracle with just six seconds remaining in the game as Jessie Hester hauled in a 10-yard pass from Davis to give FSU a 29-26 victory. Greg Allen was named a first team All-American by UPI and Walter Camp, while earning second team accolades from Football News. Allen finished the season with 1,134 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. Alphonso Carreker, who was named Defensive MVP of the Peach Bowl, was honored as a third team All-American by Football News. The season was also highlighted with Bowden’s induction into the Florida Sports Hall of Fame.
Bobby Bowden led Florida State to a school record eighth straight winning season following a 7-3-2 record and a berth in the Citrus Bowl against Georgia. With depth at the tailback position, Bowden and his staff experimented with the ‘freeze option’ and it paid huge dividends as Greg Allen, Rosie Snipes and Cletis Jones all finished with over 630 rushing yards on the year. The three Seminoles combined for 17 of the 23 touchdowns scored on the ground as Florida State closed out the regular season establishing school records for rushing yards (3,021) and yards per game (274.8) – both records that stand today. Allen was named the Metro Conference Player of the Year and concluded a brilliant senior season as he finished seventh in the Heisman Trophy balloting while being named a first team All-American by Walter Camp and Football News. Florida State began the season with four straight victories including a 38-3 thumping of No. 4 and defending national champion Miami. The Seminoles were led by wide receiver Jessie Hester, who recorded five catches for 116 yards, while gaining 102 yards on the ground in the win over the Canes. Hester went on to become the sixth FSU player to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. The 1984 season was also a block party of sorts as the Seminoles tallied nine total blocked kicks but none larger than the one against Georgia in the Citrus Bowl. Trailing the Bulldogs 17-9 with less than four minutes remaining in the game, nose guard Lenny Chavers busted up the middle untouched for his third block of the season. Joe Wessel picked up the loose ball and scampered 14 yards for the touchdown to set up a two-point conversion and a 17-17 tie. Wessel, who was named a first team Metro Conference honoree, led the Seminole block party in ’84 with five blocked kicks including four off punts. Freshman specialist Derek Schmidt finished the season with 93 points to lead all freshmen in the nation in scoring. Schmidt connected on a school record 54-yard field goal against Miami, while hitting from 42 yards in the waning seconds to give FSU a 17-17 tie at Memphis.
Year 10 of the Bobby Bowden era provided Seminole fans with another winning season culminating in another bowl victory. Florida State opened the year with four straight victories including a win at Nebraska in which Bowden proclaimed as “one of the biggest wins in FSU history.” Fullback Cletis Jones scored on a two-yard run right before the half to give FSU a 17-13 advantage. It would be a lead the Noles would not relinquish as a tenacious defensive effort by the Garnet and Gold kept the Cornhuskers scoreless in the second half en route to an upset victory in Lincoln. The season wasn’t without its hiccups, especially under center, where Bowden was forced to start four different quarterbacks due to a variety of injuries. Chip Ferguson, Danny McManus, Kirk Coker and Eric Williams all saw playing time in 1985 as the four quarterbacks combined for 2,078 yards passing and 18 touchdowns. Despite the changes at quarterback, the offense kept rolling. Ferguson led FSU to 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to cap a 24-20 come-from-behind victory over Kansas to keep the Noles unbeaten on the year. Two weeks later, FSU bounced back from a loss to Auburn scoring a school record 11 touchdowns in a 76-14 victory over Tulsa. Freshman Deion Sanders highlighted the victory with a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Florida State concluded the season with a 34-23 victory over Oklahoma State in the Gator Bowl as the Seminoles finished with a 9-3 record and ranked 15th in the AP Poll. Offensive guard Jamie Dukes was a named a first team All-American by Walter Camp and the Football Writers, while earning second team accolades from the AP and UPI. By seasons end, Bowden secured career win No. 156 moving him into sixth place all-time for career wins among active coaches at the NCAA Division I-A level.
Now in his 11th year as head coach at Florida State, Bobby Bowden continued to work towards building a powerhouse and the 1986 freshmen class he brought to Tallahassee reflected that. Bowden and his staff welcomed the likes of LeRoy Butler, Lawrence Dawsey and Dexter Carter to supplement 43 returning lettermen that included Chip Ferguson, Victor Floyd, Sammie Smith, Derek Schmidt, Deion Sanders, Fred Jones and Paul McGowan. Despite a slow start with just one win in their first four games, the Seminoles rebounded with wins in six of their last eight including a victory over Indiana in the All-American Bowl to finish the season 7-4-1. The ’86 team became the first Seminole to score 50 or more points in three consecutive games scoring 54 vs. Tulane, 50 vs. Wichita State and 54 against a Louisville squad which featured the return of former Miami head coach Howard Schnellenberger. FSU also recorded its 11th straight victory on Homecoming with a 49-13 win over Southern Mississippi. In the Blockbuster Bowl, a New Year’s Eve bowl game in Birmingham, Ala., vs. Indiana, Sammie Smith earned MVP honors rushing for two touchdowns and a career-high 205 yards. Smith would later earn Freshman All-America accolades from the Football News. Sanders had an outstanding sophomore campaign in which he tallied 61 tackles and four interceptions en route to being named a first team All-American by the Sporting News and Football News. Sanders was also a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, presented to the nation’s top collegiate defensive back. With an experienced staff, much of whom have been with Bowden for at least three seasons, the 1986 season set the ground work for what most consider one of the greatest runs in college football history.
The run to greatness started here as Bobby Bowden led the Seminoles to the first of 14 consecutive top 5 finishes in the AP top 25 poll. With an 11-1 record, the Seminoles came within one point of playing for a national championship and went undefeated on the road for the first time since 1950. Faced with the decision to kick an extra point and tie rival-Miami or go for two with 42 seconds left, Bowden chose to go for the victory, gaining admirers around the country. The two-point conversion pass was incomplete, giving FSU its only loss that season. Despite the setback, the mixture of a high powered offense and stifling defense made for one of the greatest seasons under Bowden. The Seminoles finished in the top 12 in the nation in seven offensive categories while the 163 points allowed on defense were fewest allowed in a season since giving up 103 in 1980. FSU went on to set school records for total yards, touchdowns, rushing touchdowns and scoring. Twice Florida State surpassed 600 yards of total offense accumulating 602 yards in a 61-10 road victory over Southern Mississippi and then 604 yards in a 73-14 win over Tulane. FSU then went on the road and pounded No. 6 Auburn 34-6 before closing out the regular season with a 28-14 victory over Florida. The Seminoles overcame a 14-3 deficit in Gainesville scoring the games final 25 points to snap a six-game losing streak to their intra-state rival. The season ended in a historic Fiesta Bowl finish as FSU defeated Nebraska 31-28 to conclude the season ranked No. 2 in the nation – the highest postseason ranking garnered by FSU in school history. On a fourth and goal from the 15, down four with just over three minutes to play, Danny McManus found Ronald Lewis on a slant route in the end zone for the game-winner. Deion Sanders was named a consensus first team All-American and finished as a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award for the second straight year. Paul McGowan was the recipient of the Butkus Award, while kicker Derek Schmidt finished the season as the all-time leading scorer in NCAA DI history. For his efforts, Bowden was named the Region II Coach of the Year, while earning an induction into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.
The 1988 season will forever be remembered as the year of the “Puntrooskie” as Bobby Bowden, renowned for his trick plays, utilized one of his all-time best in the final minutes of the Clemson game as Florida State pulled out a 24-21 victory in Death Valley. Tied 21-21 in the final 1:30 of a crucial nationally televised game, the Seminoles were faced with a fourth down on their own 21-yard line as the punt team entered the game. A few seconds later, 82,500 stunned Clemson fans looked on in utter disbelief as Florida State cornerback Leroy Butler rushed down the sideline for 78 yards, giving the Seminoles the ball on the Clemson one yard line. Richie Andrews hit a 19 yard field goal with 32 seconds remaining to give Florida State the 24-21 victory. Including its incredible victory at Clemson, Florida State won its final 10 games of the season and defeated Auburn in the Sugar Bowl, 13-7. The victory over Auburn capped an 11-1 season and a No. 3 ranking in the final AP poll. The Seminoles began the season ranked No. 1 in the nation and despite losing to Miami in the season opener (31-0) never dropped out of the nation’s top 10. The Seminoles finished ranked No. 3 in the final AP and UPI polls of the season. The Seminoles defeated three ranked teams – No. 3 Clemson, No. 7 Auburn in the Sugar Bowl and No. 15 South Carolina – as they won at least 10 games under Bowden for the fifth time in his 13 seasons as head coach. Individually, Deion Sanders led the NCAA in punt returns (15.2) and finished ninth in interceptions (0.55) with five interceptions and two returned for touchdowns while quarterback Chip Ferguson finished third in the nation in passing efficiency (153.0). As a team, the Seminoles ranked first in the nation in punt returns (15.5 ypr), fifth in scoring offense (40.2 ppg), fifth in passing defense (131.2) and among the top 20 in scoring defense, total offense, total defense and passing offense. An incredible 14 players earned All-American honors including Sanders (first team), nose guard Odell Haggins (second team) and offensive tackle Pat Tomberlin (second team). Sanders won the Jim Thorpe award as the nation’s top defensive back
Winners of their final 10 games of the season, the 1989 Florida State Seminoles finished with a 10-2 record, a victory over Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl and a No. 3 ranking in the AP poll. The season certainly didn’t begin as expected as Florida State lost its first two games to Southern Miss and Clemson before rebounding quickly and continuing its dominance nationally to achieve its third consecutive 10-win season and third consecutive top three national ranking. After losing the first two games, the Seminoles fell out of the national rankings for the for the first time since the 1986 season – but in head coach Bobby Bowden’s 14th season, being out of the polls lasted only two weeks. With a fifth-year senior – Peter Tom Willis – at quarterback and the Fab Four receiving corps – Lawrence Dawsey, Terry Anthony, Ronald Lewis and Bruce LaSane – catching nearly every pass thrown to them, the Seminoles became an offensive juggernaut and averaged 37.5 points in their final 10 games of the season. Willis’ list of offensive accomplishments made him one of the top quarterbacks in the nation while Bowden said of his receivers: “Somebody might have a better receiver, but nobody has a group this talented.” Willis completed 211 passes for 3,124 yards while the Fab Four combined for 120 catches, 2,086 total yards and 18 touchdowns. A total of 13 different receivers caught at least one pass and eight caught at least one touchdown pass. The legend of the “Foolah from Pascagoola” was born as true freshman cornerback Terrell Buckley returned a punt 69 yards for a touchdown in the Seminoles’ victory over Syracuse. After freezing as if he had called for a fair catch, Buckley took off and outraced everyone to the end zone for his first collegiate score. Following the game, Bowden joked: “Deion who?” Florida State continued to display its incredible talent as 10 different players earned All-American accolades including cornerback Leroy Butler (first team), center Michael Tanks (first team) and nose guard Odell Haggins (second team). Butler was a consensus All-American. Willis and three of the Fab Four – Dawsey, Anthony and Lewis – all earned All-America honorable mention honors.
Florida State began its decade of dominance with a 10-2 record, a No. 4 final national ranking and a victory over Penn State in the Blockbuster Bowl. The Seminoles began the season ranked No. 3, and despite back-to-back losses at mid-season, never dropped out of the nation’s top 12. They closed the season with six consecutive victories including a dominating 45-30 win over Florida in the final game of the regular season. Florida State’s game against Penn State in the Blockbuster Bowl marked the first time the top-two all-time winningest coaches in college football history – the Seminoles’ Bowden and Penn State’s Joe Paterno – would face each other. The Seminoles list of 10 victories included one of the biggest come-from-behind victories in school history against Virginia Tech. Down 21-3 midway through the second quarter, Florida State rallied to take the lead during the third quarter and won the game 39-28. The Seminoles’ victory over the Hokies pushed the nation’s longest winning streak to 14 consecutive games – the third longest streak in school history. Bowden guided the Seminoles to a 42-3 victory over LSU for his 200th career victory making him just the 22nd collegiate coach in history and only the 11th coach in Division IA history to win 200 career games. Florida State’s offense, which averaged 36.3 points, was prolific throughout the season. Two quarterbacks – Casey Weldon and Brad Johnson – led the Seminoles to at least 31 points in nine different games with 70 points coming in a victory over Cincinnati. Lawrence Dawsey (WR) earned All-America first team honors, Terrell Buckley (CB) earned All-America second team honors and freshman Marvin Jones (LB) earned All-America third team honors.
Florida State finished with an 11-2 record, a No. 4 national ranking and a victory over Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl in 1991. It marked the Seminoles’ fifth consecutive 10-win season, their fifth straight top five final ranking and their NCAA record tying seventh consecutive bowl victory. FSU began the season ranked No. 1 and spent 12 weeks as the nation’s No. 1 ranked team before it fell to Miami in week 11. Florida State opened the season with a 44-28 victory over BYU in the Disneyland Pigskin Classic in Anaheim. The game matched the two early front runners for the Heisman Trophy – Casey Weldon and Ty Detmer with Florida State’s Weldon winning the battle. The Seminoles made their first ever trip to the Big House at the University of Michigan and came away with a convincing 51-31 victory. Florida State’s All-American cornerback Terrell Buckley’s 40-yard interception return for a touchdown on the first play of the game set the tone for the battle between the No. 1 ranked Seminoles and the No. 3 ranked Wolverines. The game was played before a crowd of 106,145 and a national television audience. In the best comeback of the season, Amp Lee rushed for 112 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Seminoles to a 27-16 victory at LSU. He scored the third of three consecutive Seminole touchdowns late in the fourth quarter to give the Seminoles the win after trailing by as much as 13-0 and 16-7 at halftime. Florida State rushed for 212 yards despite the game being played in a driving rain storm. A rainy and cold afternoon in Dallas led to a 10-2 victory over Texas A&M in the Cotton bowl – a win that solidified Bowden’s position as one of college football’s best bowl coaches. Buckley won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back, Casey Weldon was the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy and won the Johnny Unitas Award and linebacker Marvin Jones became the first sophomore ever to be a finalist for the Lombardi Award. He was also a semi-finalist for the Butkus Award. Seven Seminoles earned All-American honors including Buckley (First Team), Jones (First Team) and Weldon (Second Team).
Florida State took the ACC by force in its first season in the league with an 8-0 record and its first of 12 league championships. The Seminoles finished with an 11-1 overall record, an 8-0 mark in ACC play and the No. 2 national ranking by the Associated Press. Florida State owned an overall margin of victory of nearly 23 points per game and scored 69 in a victory over Maryland, 70 in a win over Tulane and more than 30 points a total of seven times. FSU’s Win over Maryland was the 10th of the season which made head coach Bobby Bowden the first coach in major college football history to compile six consecutive 10 win seasons. Florida State began ACC play with a 48-21 victory over Duke in the season opener that marked the debut of Charlie Ward at quarterback. Later in the season, Florida State won at Virginia to clinch its first ACC championship and give Bowden his 150th victory at FSU. In the next game against Maryland, Bowden and Ward debuted Florida State’s “Fast Break Offense”. It proved potent as the Seminoles scored on each of the six possessions in the first half and set the stage for Ward’s career and a national championship in 1993. The Seminoles closed out the regular season with a 45-24 victory over Florida which afforded Bowden another milestone as he became the first coach in major college football to win 10 games in six consecutive seasons. Marvin Jones, the top defender on a powerful defensive team, was named to every All-American team and finished in fourth place in the voting for the Heisman Trophy. Jones was named the Player of the Year in college football by the Sporting News, a finalist for the Defensive Player of the Year by Football News and led a parade of nine Seminoles who earned All-ACC honors. Nine Seminoles were named All-ACC while Ward was named the ACC Player of the Year and Tamarick Vanover was named the league’s Rookie of the Year. Dan Footman won the Brian Piccolo Award as the Comeback Player of the Year in the ACC. Led by Vanover, Florida State led the nation in kickoff returns and shattered the school record for both average (30.3) and touchdowns (three) on kick returns.
Head Coach Bobby Bowden and Florida State would finally get their national championship with a nail-biting 18-16 victory over Nebraska in the Orange Bowl, thanks to a last-minute Scott Bentley field goal and a hurried 45-yard field goal miss by Nebraska’s Byron Bennett with no time left on the clock. The Seminoles won their first nine games of the season and were the unanimous No. 1 team in the nation until they lost at No. 2 Notre Dame and dropped a spot in the next national poll. The Notre Dame game was tabbed the “Game of the Century” by the media and the magnitude was so great that ESPN’s studio show felt it had to be “on-site,” prompting the now popular ESPN Game Day campus visits each week. The next week, the Seminoles defeated NC State while Notre Dame lost to Boston College and FSU regained the nation’s No. 1 ranking. Charlie Ward threw for 3,032 yards, completed 70 percent of his passes and became the first player since Pittsburgh’s Tony Dorsett in 1976 to win the Heisman Trophy and the national championship in the same season. Ward won every award he was eligible for including the Heisman, the Davey O’Brien Award, the Maxwell Award, the Johnny Unitas, the Walter Camp Player of the Year, and ACC Player of the Year while earning consensus All-America first team honors. FSU ranked first in the nation in scoring offense (43.2 ppg), first in scoring defense (9.4 ppg), second in total offense (548 ypg), fifth in rushing defense (98.5 ypg) and sixth in passing offense (325.8 ypg) and total defense (284.5 ypg). Seventeen Seminoles earned All-ACC honors including eight on the first team and FSU finished first in 10 different team statistical categories in completely dominating the ACC. Seven Seminoles earned All-America honors with Ward, defensive end Derrick Alexander, linebacker Derrick Brooks and cornerback Corey Sawyer earning All-American first team honors.
Fresh off the program’s first National Championship, Bobby Bowden was challenged with the task of replacing 12 starters, including Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward, leading tackler Ken Alexander, three of its four wide receivers and the entire starting backfield. While most programs would struggle, with an abundance of young talent Bowden and his Seminoles just reloaded, finishing the season with a 10-1-1 record, another ACC Championship and ranked No. 4 in the final Associated Press poll. The Seminoles dominated the ACC, defeating league-foes by an average of 28.6 points per game and dismissed Notre Dame 23-16 in Orlando. But Bowden’s 1994 Seminoles will probably be remembered as one of the gutsiest in FSU history after “The Comeback” against Florida in the regular-season finale. Trailing 31-3 in the fourth quarter, running back Rock Preston’s four-yard touchdown run with 1:45 left in the game capped a 28-point comeback, led by quarterback Danny Kanell, which tied the NCAA record and left Doak Campbell Stadium in a celebration that continues today. Florida State settled the regular-season tie with the Gators, winning “The Fifth Quarter in the French Quarter” 23-17 in the Sugar Bowl. It was FSU’s 13th straight bowl appearance, and Bowden’s 16th overall at FSU, and the program’s eighth straight 10-win season. Cornerback Clifton Abraham became FSU’s fourth consecutive Consensus All-American defensive back while linebacker Derrick Brooks, who also received numerous All-America honors, was a finalist for the Lombardi and Butkus awards. Twenty-two Seminoles garnered All-ACC honors, including 10 first-teamers.
Florida State began the 1995 campaign with 14 returning starters, but just five on defense, and Seminole football insiders were cautious not to look at how promising the season might have been had underclassmen Derrick Alexander and Devin Bush not opted for the NFL. However, a testament to just how solid FSU’s program was in Bobby Bowden’s 20th year, is the fact that some predicted the Seminoles to finish as national champions again in 1995. In a record-setting season for individual players, Florida State fell just short, finishing the season at 10-2 and ranked No. 4 in the final national poll. Ranked No. 1 in the preseason, the Seminoles cruised in their first seven games, including a dominating 41-17 win at home over rival-Miami and scored 70 or more points in three of its wins over ACC foes but then the “unthinkable” happened, sending shock waves throughout the league. In game eight, on the road at Virginia, in a Thursday night contest, tailback Warrick Dunn came just inches away from the goal line on the final play and the Seminoles fell 33-28 to the Cavaliers, marking the first ACC loss in program history. Florida State went on to win the rest of their ACC games, earning another ACC title, but fell to the Gators at the Swamp, losing to Florida for only the second time in nine years. The heroics of ACC Player and Offensive Player of the Year Danny Kanell in leading the Seminoles to a fourth quarter come-from-behind win over Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl preserved FSU’s NCAA record 11th straight bowl win. Kanell set an FSU and ACC record with 32 touchdown passes and set the career TD mark for both with 57. Dunn became the first player in FSU history to post back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons and set a new school record with 1,232 yards in 1995. Center Clay Shiver earned consensus All-America honors while 12 Seminoles were named All-ACC, including seven first teamers, and 14 others received honorable mention All-ACC recognition.
Florida State celebrated 50 years of Seminole football in 1996 and Bobby Bowden had the program on top of the world. With a spot in the AP Top Four nine previous seasons, a constant string of All-Americans and award winners, an annual trip to a New Year’s Day Bowl, a national championship, Florida State and its fans had high expectations each fall. The Seminoles returned 15 starters and the key special teams players from the season before and had a receiving corps, anchored by Andre Cooper and E.G. Green, that was being compared to the best in college football history. The Seminoles would fall just short of another national championship concluding the season 11-1, ranked No. 3 in both national polls and extended its NCAA record to 10 straight years of finishing in the Top Four of the AP poll. FSU was perfect in the regular season, including a fifth-straight ACC title, the program’s first win over the Hurricanes in Miami in 12 years and a thrilling 24-21 victory over the Gators. The contest between No. 1 Florida and No. 2 Florida State marked just the fourth time in college football history that two undefeated teams met in the regular-season finale and the match up would prove to be a nail-biter. With the win gusting at over 20 mph, FSU used a career-high 185 yards rushing by Warrick Dunn and a brilliant defense, which registered six quarterback sacks, to run its record to a perfect 11-0 and cash in a ticket to the Sugar Bowl and the national championship game. A month later, however, the two teams would meet in a rematch in the Sugar Bowl that the Gators won. Bowden, who led FSU to its 10th straight 10-win season, was named the Home Depot College Football National Coach of the Year and Defensive Coordinator Mickey Andrews was selected the first Broyles Award Winner, recognizing the most outstanding assistant coach in the nation. Andrews’ defensive end tandem of Peter Boulware and Reinard Wilson, both consensus All-Americans, had opposing quarterbacks shaking in their cleats each Saturday. The duo combined for 33.5 sacks on the season. Boulware was named ACC Defensive Player of the Year as 11 Seminoles earned All-ACC honors, including six first-teamers.
The goals remained the same for Bobby Bowden’s Florida State Seminoles in 1997 as they set their sights on winning a sixth consecutive ACC title and the program’s second national championship. Florida State’s 14 returning starters would have to overcome the loss of three All-Americans and face a grueling schedule, including a trip out west to open the season at Southern Cal. The Seminoles would escape sunny California with a 14-7 win over the USC Trojans and went perfect again in ACC play. A 47-0 thrashing of Miami in Tallahassee in the fourth game of the season had the Seminole faithful cheering for another championship run and things looked promising heading into the regular-season finale vs. Florida. Tenth-ranked Florida scored with 1:50 left in the game to defeat top-ranked and undefeated Florida State 32-29, dashing the hopes of a return trip to the national championship game. Although disappointed, the Seminoles rebounded for a 31-14 win over No. 9 Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl to finish 11-1 for a second straight season. The win was FSU’s 11th in its last 12 bowl games and vaulted the Seminoles to a third place ranking in both polls. The ranking kept alive the Seminoles’ record of 11 straight seasons with a finish of No. 4 or better in the AP poll. Florida State swept the ACC awards with defensive end Andre Wadsworth winning both ACC Player and ACC Defensive Player of the Year, quarterback Thad Busby ACC Offensive Player of the Year, tailback Travis Minor ACC Rookie of the Year, Sam Cowart Brian Piccolo Award and Bowden, the ACC Coach of the Year. Sixteen Seminoles in all garnered All-ACC honors, with seven earning first team accolades. Cowart earned consensus All-America honors while Butkus semifinalist Daryl Bush was named a first team Academic All-American and a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete.
“Every year, you have to establish your own identity. You can’t live off what last year’s team did,” Bobby Bowden said heading into the 1998 season. With 14 starters and their primary special teams’ players returning, the lofty goal of winning another national championship seemed reachable for the Seminoles. Due to an injury to projected starting quarterback Dan Kendra, 26-year-old former professional baseball player Chris Weinke won the starting job for Florida State. With a 1-0 record and ranked No. 2 in the nation, Weinke suffered a school-record six interceptions in a nightmarish 24-7 loss at NC State. The loss made the Seminoles 47-2 against the ACC since joining the league. But Bowden rallied the troops and the Seminoles won the next seven straight games to climb back to No. 6 in the country. In game 10 at home vs. Virginia, Weinke suffered a season-ending injury after a jarring sack resulted in a herniated a disc in his neck. While Weinke recovered from surgery, Marcus Outzen took over the reigns at quarterback and led the Seminoles to victories at Wake Forest and over No. 4 Florida in Tallahassee. Junior wide receiver Peter Warrick, who had emerged as a playmaker during the season, caught one touchdown and threw for another and FSU’s defense did not allow the Gators to convert a single third down all game as the fifth-ranked Seminoles took a 23-12 victory. The win gave the Seminoles an 11-1 regular-season record and a series of upsets in championship games landed Florida State a berth in its second national championship game in three years. No. 1 Tennessee had one more big play in them than No. 2 Florida State and the Seminoles could not convert on two comeback opportunities in the last four minutes as the Volunteers defeated FSU 23-16 to win the Fiesta Bowl and the national championship. Placekicker Sebastian Janikowski was selected the Lou Groza Award winner and was a consensus All-American. Defensive tackle Corey Simon earned AP All-American honors while Warrick, a consensus All-American, was a Biletnikoff Award finalist. Florida State had 13 players earn All-ACC honors, including seven first-teamers. The season concluded with an 11-2 record and at No. 3 in the AP poll, a 12th straight season with a Top 4 national ranking and a 12th straight season of 10 or more wins.
12-0. The perfect season. Undefeated. Undisputed. Wire-to-Wire. The 1999 Florida State Seminoles finished with a perfect 12-0 record and were the first in AP history to go “wire-to-wire,” ranked continuously as the nation’s No. 1 team. With the return of 16 starters and Lou Groza Award winner Sebastian Janikowski, and the anticipated return of quarterback Chris Weinke from injury, there were high hopes for the 1999 campaign. The Seminoles had been close to winning it all the past few seasons and Bobby Bowden said the key would be whether his team would be hungry. From start to finish, the Seminoles were hungry indeed and fed the fans with loads of excitement. While the Seminoles won five games by four touchdowns or more, there were some close calls, including a slim 17-14 win at Clemson in the first Bowden Bowl (Bobby vs. son Tommy) in which FSU had to come from behind for the victory. Win the win, Bowden became the fifth coach in Division I-A history to record 300 career wins. When the final pass fell incomplete in the end zone at the Swamp in the regular-season finale, the Seminoles came away with a 30-23 victory and locked up another chance at a national title. In the national title game, FSU outscored Michael Vick and Virginia Tech 18-0 in the fourth quarter for a 46-29 decision in the highest scoring Sugar Bowl of all-time. From his slithering 20-yard touchdown in the season-opener vs. Louisiana Tech, which was voted the play of the year, to his Sugar Bowl-record 20 points that earned him MVP honors, Peter Warrick thrilled the country with his play on his way to consensus All-America honors. Janikowski was again named the Lou Groza Award winner and earned consensus All-America honors for the second straight season. Defensive tackle Corey Simon, who led the ACC with 21 tackles for loss, was a finalist for both the Lombardi Award and Outland Trophy and earned consensus All-America honors. Offensive guard Jason Whitaker, who started 38 consecutive games in his FSU career, became FSU’s first consensus All-America offensive lineman since 1994. Weinke improved his record as the FSU starter to 21-1 and was named the ACC’s Brian Piccolo Award winner. Sixteen Seminoles earned All-ACC honors, including nine on the first team, while four others received league honorable-mention honors. Long time defensive assistant Chuck Amato left FSU following the season to become head coach at his alma mater, NC State.
Chris Weinke won the Heisman Trophy and Florida State played Oklahoma for the National Championship as the Seminoles finished the 2000 season with an 11-2 record, an 8-0 ACC record and a No. 5 ranking in the final AP poll. Florida State fell 13-2 to the Sooners, playing in its third straight and fourth national championship game in five years. The five-year period from 1998-2000 ranked as the best in school history for any senior class with a 56-6 record and a .903 winning percentage. Florida State’s six wins in Doak Campbell Stadium raised its nation’s best home unbeaten streak to 52 games and extended its nation’s best winning streak to 35 games. The Seminoles closed out the regular season with a resounding 30-7 victory over Florida moving Bobby Bowden into fourth place all-time for coaching victories with 315 wins. The Seminoles’ win over Georgia Tech earlier in the season allowed Bowden to surpass Alabama’s Bear Bryant for fourth place on the all-time coaching list for victories at a single school with 242. The Seminoles were ranked in the nation’s top seven throughout the season, were as high as No. 1 and spent five weeks at No. 2. In winning the second Heisman Trophy in school history, Weinke broke or tied 26 school records and earned just about every award he was eligible for including the Johnny Unitas and Davey O’Brien. He was named the Player of the Year by College Football News, the ACC Player and Offensive Player of the Year and was one of 21 Seminoles to earn All-ACC honors. In addition to Weinke, All-American honors were earned by defensive back Tay Cody, defensive lineman Jamal Reynolds and offensive tackle Tarlos Thomas. Two linebackers – Tommy Polley and Brian Allen – were semifinalists for the Butkus Award while punter Keith Cottrell was a finalist for the Ray Guy Award, Snoop Minnis was a finalist for the Biletnikoff and Reynolds was a finalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award. Thomas won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy as the ACC’s best blocker. The Seminoles were ranked in the top six nationally in seven different statistical categories – total offense (first, 549.0 ypg), passing offense (first, 384 ypg), scoring defense (second, 10.3 ppg), rushing defense (second, 73.9 ypg), scoring offense (third, 42.4 ppg), pass efficiency defense (fifth, 91.7) and total defense (sixth, 277 ypg). Longtime offensive coordinator Mark Richt left FSU following the season to become head coach at Georgia.
Starting a redshirt freshman at quarterback was unfamiliar territory for Bobby Bowden but in 2001 that’s what Florida State did. Led by rookie Chris Rix, FSU finished with an 8-4 record, a 6-2 record in ACC play and were ranked 15th in the final AP poll of the season. For the first time since joining the league in 1992 season, the Seminoles did not win the ACC championship but still headed to their 11th straight New Year’s Day bowl with an invitation to the Gator Bowl where FSU defeated Virginia Tech, 30-17. With that win, Bowden tied Bear Bryant for second place on the all-time coaching wins list with 323. FSU began the season ranked sixth nationally and remained in the top 25 for all but one week during the season. The Seminoles played their final regular season game against Georgia Tech on December 1st because the game against the Yellow Jackets was postponed due to the tragedy of 9/11. Offensive tackle Brett Williams earned the Jacobs Blocking Trophy as the top offensive lineman in the ACC. Quarterback Chris Rix was named the ACC Rookie of the Year as he threw for 2,734 yards and 24 touchdowns. Overall, the Seminoles were honored with 11 All-ACC selections. Kicker Xavier Beitia, Rix and nose guard Travis Johnson all earned Freshman All-American honors by the Sporting News.
The 2002 season marked Florida State’s return to its position as the best team in the ACC. The Seminoles finished with a 9-5 overall record, played Georgia in the Sugar Bowl and concluded the season ranked 21st in the final AP poll of the season. Bobby Bowden moved into second place on the all-time career victory list with his 324th in Florida State’s season opening 38-31 victory over Iowa State in the Eddie Robinson Classic at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. Kendyll Pope and Jerel Hudson combined to stop Iowa State quarterback Seneca Wallace on the one-yard line on the final play of the game to preserve the victory. The Seminoles won their first four games before losing in overtime to Louisville 26-20 in a driving rainstorm. It was the first overtime game the Seminoles had ever played. With a 7-1 record in ACC play, Florida State won the ACC Championship to gain the league’s BCS bowl spot. The Seminoles defeated Florida, 31-14, in the final game of the regular season and played former Seminole offensive coordinator Mark Richt’s Bulldogs in the Sugar Bowl. FSU was already depleted with injuries and had to face Georgia without suspended quarterback Chris Rix. In fact, FSU finished the 26-13 loss with wide receiver Anquan Boldin playing quarterback. Brett Williams, a four-time All-ACC honoree during his career, became the first Seminole and only the eighth player in league history to earn the Jacobs Blocking Trophy in consecutive seasons. Junior wide receiver Anquan Boldin was the recipient of the ACC’s Piccolo Award given annually to the most courageous player in the ACC. Boldin earned the award for his recovery from a devastating knee injury. Williams, guard Montrae Holland, and defensive lineman Alonzo Jackson earned All-ACC First Team honors as nine Seminoles earned All-ACC honors from the league championship team. Williams earned All-American first team honors from the Football Coaches’ Association, Sporting News and College Football News.
Bobby Bowden led the Seminoles back to another 10-win season and passed legendary Alabama coach Bear Bryant to become the all-time winningest major college football coach along the way. The Seminoles finished the season 10-3 and captured the ACC title, their 10th in 12 years, and earned the BCS bid to the Orange Bowl, marking the program’s 22nd consecutive postseason trip and 13th consecutive January bowl game. FSU fell to rival Miami in the Orange Bowl, 16-14, as the two teams combined for the fewest points in the rivalry to that point since a 10-9 Miami win in 1980. The Seminoles piled up the points in 2003, averaging 32.2 points per game as QB Chris Rix threw for the fifth-most yards in school single season history. Wide receiver Craphonso Thorpe turned in a pair of outstanding performances during the year as he totaled two games with 200 yards receiving or more in the dominant 47-7 win over Colorado (205) and the 37-0 drubbing of Notre Dame (217). Offensive tackle Alex Barron anchored the offensive line as he earned consensus All-American honors. Nine Seminoles were tabbed All-ACC, led by Alex Barron, Michael Boulware, Darnell Dockett, Stanford Samuels and Craphonso Thorpe who all picked up first team honors.
The defense carried Bobby Bowden’s Seminoles in 2004 as 14 future NFL draft picks lined up on the defensive side of the ball and held opponents to just 14.1 points per game en route to 9-3 record, a 23rd straight bowl berth and a No. 15 final ranking. Florida State also featured a pair of future NFL players in the backfield who piled up an average of 162 yards on the ground. Leon Washington and Lorenzo Booker each rushed for more than 880 yards on the year. During the season, a statue of Bowden that stands outside Doak Campbell Stadium was dedicated before the Seminoles delivered a 41-22 win over Clemson. Prior to the regular-season finale vs. Florida, the field at Doak Campbell was renamed Bobby Bowden Field at Doak Campbell Stadium in honor of the legendary coach. Bowden coached his 26th career bowl game, defeating his former employer, West Virginia 30-18 in the Gator Bowl. Offensive lineman Alex Barron repeated as a Consensus All-American and earned his second consecutive first team All-ACC selection and Antonio Cromartie and Travis Johnson joined him on the team.
It was only fitting that the program that dominated the Atlantic Coast Conference for so long would claim a victory in the league’s first-ever title game. The Seminoles went 8-5 in a season that ended on a high note. Bobby Bowden guided the Seminoles to a conference championship in the inaugural Dr. Pepper ACC Championship game in Jacksonville with a 27-22 win over Virginia Tech to propel FSU into the FedEx Orange Bowl against Penn State. The Orange Bowl berth was the 24th consecutive bowl game Bowden would coach in, and pitted him against friend and longtime Nittany Lions coach Joe Paterno. The game was one for the ages with three overtimes before Penn State prevailed 26-23. Over the course of the 2005 season, FSU utilized 27 freshman players – the most of any team in college football. Redshirt freshman quarterback Drew Weatherford became the most prolific rookie quarterback in ACC history that season and tailback Leon Washington became the first Seminole to score a touchdown five different ways. Bowden’s 2005 Seminoles also featured All-American defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley, who along with teammates Antonio Cromartie, Ernie Sims and Kamerion Wimbley, would go on to be a first round selection in the 2006 NFL Draft.
The 2006 season opened with a Labor Day victory over rival Miami, 13-10 but it was a seesaw year that resulted in a 7-6 final record. Among the highlights was a 33-0 win over Virginia, marking Florida State’s first shutout since 2003. On December 5, 2006 Bobby Bowden’s amazing career was recognized by the National Football Foundation as he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame along with his former quarterback, 1993 Heisman Trophy winner, Charlie Ward. In the postseason, Bowden and the Seminoles made their longest road trip in school history, venturing 2,600 miles west to San Francisco for the Emerald Bowl. The long trek was certainly worthwhile as Florida State defeated the UCLA Bruins 44-27. The game marked Florida State’s 25th straight bowl appearance and the win extended Bowden’s consecutive winning season streak to 30. Following the season five Seminoles were selected in the 2007 NFL draft, tied for the most of any school that year. Senior middle linebacker Buster Davis was a first-team All-ACC selection, while defensive tackle Andre Fluellen and wide receiver Greg Carr earned second-team honors.
Notable changes occurred with Bobby Bowden’s coaching staff in the offseason with the return of linebackers’ coach Chuck Amato and the addition of offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher, running backs coach Dexter Carter, wide receivers coach Lawrence Dawsey and offensive line coach Rick Trickett. Bowden was able to produce his 31st consecutive winning season with a 7-6 record and made a Music City Bowl appearance. Bowden reached another milestone in his decorated career when he earned his 300th win at Florida State in the squad’s 24-16 victory over Maryland. FSU’s upset win over No. 22 Alabama in Jacksonville was another highlight as Bowden, a Birmingham, Ala., native faced the Crimson Tide, his favorite team as a child, for the first time in his career. Five Seminoles earned All-ACC recognition.
Bobby Bowden coached his Seminoles to their first nine-win season since 2004 with a 9-3 record, No. 21 final national ranking and a tie for 1st in the ACC Atlantic Division (5-3). The Seminoles concluded the season with a 42-13 convincing victory over Wisconsin in the Champs Sports Bowl and touted the nation’s longest bowl streak at 27 straight. During the season in the Seminoles’ 39-21 victory over Colorado in Jacksonville, Bowden recorded his 500th game as a college head coach. The win sparked a four-game winning streak for the Seminoles including wins at rival-Miami, at NC State and at home over Virginia Tech. But the highlight during the season occurred off of the field as junior Myron Rolle was named a Rhodes Scholar the very night that the Seminoles beat Maryland 37-3 in College Park to become bowl eligible. Rolle flew straight to the game from the selection announcement in Birmingham, Ala., and played in the second half. Eight players earned All-ACC honors but the postseason was highlighted by two special awards. Placekicker/punter Graham Gano capped off his career by winning the Lou Groza Award, which marked the third time a Seminole won the award under Bowden, and became the first kicker and second specialist in the history of the Champs Sports Bowl to win the game’s MVP award. In front of a national audience on the College Football Awards Show, Bowden was presented the NCFAA Contributions to College Football Award. Everette Brown, who finished the year ranked in the top three in three season and career FSU records, was the Carolina Panthers first pick in the NFL draft.
Bobby Bowden coached in his final game as Florida State’s head coach when the Seminoles faced West Virginia in the Gator Bowl. Bowden held the nation’s longest bowl streak at 28 straight bowls which began (1982). The Seminoles went 6-6 in the regular season but had some stand-out team and individual performances including the 54-28 win at No. 7 BYU. Senior Dekoda Watson cut off a piece of turf and brought it home after the Seminoles generated 511 yards of offense led by junior quarterback Christian Ponder. Although second-year starter Ponder was injured with three games left in the regular season, he still finished third in the nation for total offense and sixth for passing yards per game. He led the conference in passing average per game and was a Wuerffel Trophy finalist, Maxwell Award semifinalist and on the Manning Award Watch List. Freshman Greg Reid burst onto the scene leading the nation in punt returns with an 18.4 average. He also won one ACC Player of the Week award and was named honorable mention All-ACC. Junior Rodney Hudson was awarded the Jacobs Blocking Trophy, which goes to the Most Outstanding Blocker in the ACC. Hudson did not allow a sack or QB pressure. Sophomore Nigel Bradham led the defense with 88 tackles and junior Ochuko Jenije had a team-leading four interceptions. Six Seminoles were named to the All-ACC team. Longtime defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews announced he was retiring at the end of the season concluding his 26th year career at Florida State.