The 1986 version of the Florida State Seminoles was not all that memorable with a 7-4-1 record. However, 3 out of their 4 losses were to top 10 ranked teams. They were beaten by 8th ranked Nebraska in Lincoln, 5th ranked Michigan in Ann Arbor and top ranked Miami in Miami. Their other loss was to those hated Florida Gators at home.
But, that was 1986 and the following season would be a new beginning and would put Florida State forever on record as one of the nation’s all time great football programs.
It all started with Bobby Bowden, of course. Before his arrival in Tallahassee, the Seminoles had had some good teams. But, in the few years right before he came they were one of the worst teams and
played like they were going back to becoming an all woman school like they had been way back in history.
Bobby Bowden changed all of that really soon after his hiring. But, it was the 1987 season that they became a Dynasty. FSU Dynasty
The Seminoles returned a lot of talent for the 1987 season and the AP Poll had them ranked 8th at the beginning of the season.
Some of the highly touted recruits from the class of 1985 like Sammie Smith, Deion Sanders, Pat Tomberlin, Dedrick Dodge and others were now juniors and team leaders. 1985 Recruiting Class
There were a lot more schools back in the 1980s that were not in conferences. Florida State was an independent. So were Miami, Penn State, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, South Carolina, Pittsburgh and so many others. In the 1990s most of these schools found conferences to join such as Florida State joining the ACC in 1992 and the SEC has never forgiven them.
Florida State’s schedule in 1987 was made up of 6 other independents and some of them were in all honesty, pretty weak teams.
They did open their season with Texas Tech of the old Southwest Conference and it was a blowout with the Red Raiders under brand new head coach Spike Dykes. The Seminoles prevailed easily, 40-16.
That would be the way that most of the Noles season would go with a 44-3 beating of East Carolina next.
Another independent, Memphis, was next and the game was actually closer than it should have been with a 41-24 victory at home in Tallahassee. Michigan State of the Big 10 was next and that program has been hit and miss throughout history. This team just happened to be a hit and they finished 7-0-1 in the Big 10 and earned a Rose Bowl berth. But, they were off to a slow start and just coming off of an 8-31 beating at Notre Dame. They would also prove to be little problem for the Seminoles with Florida State beating the Spartans 31-3 up in East Lansing.
The Florida State Seminoles were now ranked #4 and mighty rival 3rd ranked Miami was coming to
town. The games between Florida State and Miami often turn out to be classics and sometimes in these years they determined the national champion later on in the season.
The Seminoles lost a heart breaker of gigantic proportions when Bobby Bowden elected to go for 2 instead of settling for a tie. You just have to respect a man that throws everything he has into the ring and goes for it. Bowden held nothing back, but Seminole Quarterback Danny McManus’ two point conversion attempt was knocked down and the Hurricanes won a thriller, 25-26. Read about that game here, if interested: Going for the Win
It was one of the great games of all time and Florida State truly went for the win, instead of settling for the tie. It was a decision that has to be respected all of this time later. If only there had been Overtime back in those years.
The Seminoles were now 4-1, but how do you punish a team that lost by 1 point to it’s bitter rival. They only moved to the 6th spot in the Polls where they wouldn’t stay long.
Florida State seethed after that loss and came out and crushed Southern Miss next, 61-10. Independents Louisville and Tulane were next in line for beatings with the Cardinals hanging in there for a 32-9 loss to the Noles and the Green Wave getting a severe 73-14 beating.
The 6th ranked Auburn Tigers of the mighty SEC were next and they proved to be very little work for the Seminoles with Florida State crushing Auburn, 34-6.
Florida State was back at number 4 in the rankings and they should not have even been playing Furman, but they did and they cruised to a 41-10 win.
The other big rival was next, but the Florida Gators proved to be just a small challenge with a 28-14
win for the visiting Seminoles.
5th ranked Nebraska awaited in the Fiesta Bowl. But, who knew how good the Huskers were in 1987. They had barely beaten ranked UCLA and Arizona State, and by the end of the season they were the top ranked team in the country before they lost to rival and 2nd ranked Oklahoma. The Sooners represented the Big 8 in the Orange Bowl and they lost to Miami with the Hurricanes winning the national championship. Their 2nd in 5 seasons, the Hurricanes had risen to the top of the college football world in just a few short years.
However good Nebraska was in 1987 with coach Tom Osborne, it was not good enough to beat Florida State. The Seminoles won the game 31-28 and the two Florida powerhouses finished the season at number 1 and number 2.
Tight End Pat Carter, Linebacker Paul McGowan and Cornerback Deion Sanders were 1st team All Americans. Offensive Tackle Pat Tomberlin and kicker Derek Schmidt were 3rd team members. Honorable mentions included Wide Receiver Herb Gainer, Defensive Linemen Odell Haggins and Eric Hayes, Offensive Lineman Jason Kuipers, Running Back Sammie Smith and Linebacker Terry Warren. Six of those All Americans were members of that recruiting class of 1985.
For the 2nd ranked Florida State Seminoles this was the first year of their famous Dynasty. 14 years of being ranked in the top 4 or less and 2 national championships. If not for a missed 2 point conversion and several bad Field Goals they could have had several more national championships.
To win a national title between the years of 1987 and 2000, the Florida State Seminoles or their rivals Miami would have to be dealt with.