The Dynasty: Florida State 1987- 2000

I am dedicating this post to my family in Greenville, South Carolina.

Jeff, Aspen, Stanton and Dylan Stone. My son in law, Jeff Stone a Financial Adviser for Wells Fargo, is the biggest Seminole fan on the planet.



In 1987, the Florida State Seminoles under Head Coach Bobby Bowden went 11-1 and finished the season ranked #2.

In 2000, Florida State finished 11-2 and ranked #4. What happened in those 2 seasons and every season between those years was nothing short of amazing. 2 national championships and no ranking higher than #4 over 14 straight seasons, making the Florida States Seminoles the most feared and respected college football teams of all time.

Nobody else has ever had a run like the Florida State Seminoles between 1987 and 2000. Nobody else has ever really gotten close to that kind of success for so long.

Take out the missed Field Goals and close losses against Miami and the disappointment against Oklahoma in 2000 which cost them another title and this was one helluva run. I seriously doubt we will see anything else like it in the future of college football.



1987 being the first of 14 dominating years brought some real drama. In Tallahassee, Florida State lost a 1 pointer to eventual National Champion, Miami. 26-25 games like this are solved by the current overtime system. Florida State players and coaches talked about kicking the Extra Point and taking a tie vs going for 2 and the win. Florida State elected to go for the win and you have to admire the decision to go for 2 points and the win. A lot of fans lost respect for Ara Parseghian in 1966 when they elected to tie Michigan State. Bobby Bowden rolled the dice and went of the win.

These 2 teams were more loaded than any other teams I have ever covered in this blog. Florida State finished #2, Miami and Jimmy Johnson finished #1 after several years of disappointments for the Hurricanes. 56 players from these 2 teams went on to play in the NFL. That’s freaky and well worth another post investigating the individual talent involved.

Florida State beat their other rival, Florida, 28-14 and then went on to beat Nebraska 31-28 in the Fiesta Bowl.  11-1 record made the 26-25 loss to Miami that much harder to swallow.


1988 Florida State went into the season as the #1 ranked team. Title hopes died almost immediately as Miami drubbed FSU 31-0 in the very first game of the season. That score pretty much summed up how the game went with Miami out gaining Florida State 450 yards to 242 yards. Starting QB Chip Ferguson threw 2 interceptions. Back up QB Peter Tom Willis threw 2 more and 3rd string guy Casey Weldon threw another. It was just a miserable day for Florida State and the Canes could do no wrong. Later, Miami would lose in an incredible game to Notre Dame 31-30 and the Irish would win it all with Miami #2.

Florida State recovered rather nicely from the early embarrassment to win out including a 52-17 stomping of the hated Florida Gators. The Seminoles finished their season with a 13-7 win over Auburn in the Sugar Bowl and finished up #3 in the Polls.

31-0 was a freak game and no indication of what kind of team the Seminoles were. Games like that happen sometimes in football and I am not making excuses for Florida State or Bowden.


The 1989  season saw Florida State get off to another bad start. Florida state lost to Southern Miss, 30-26, and Clemson, 34-23, in their first 2 games. Clemson was ranked #10 so that makes sense but the loss to Southern Miss was a real head scratcher.

But, then, the Florida State Seminoles rebounded to win the rest of their games. They beat Miami 24-10 and the Florida Gators 24-17 which made a lot of Seminole fans feel better about early season losses. The recovery was complete as the Seminoles obliterated Nebraska 41-17 in the Fiesta Bowl. Ultimately, Florida State finished 10-2 and ranked #3. Not that bad considering they started the 1989 season off at 0-2. That is also a clear indicator of character. A lot of people would have folded their tents and gone home after such a terrible start, but the Seminoles took a different route that would continue to pay off for years to come.


1990 Florida State started the season rated #3 and won their first 4 games easily enough. Then,  Florida State lost to #9 Miami at Miami 31-21 and in back to back weeks also lost to the #5 ranked Auburn Tigers, 20-17. The Seminoles rebounded well yet again and beat Florida, 45-30 and beat Penn State 24-17 in the Blockbuster Bowl. Florida State finished at 10-2 and ranked #4.

Much hated Miami would finish #3. To illustrate how much college football has changed since 1990, Colorado and Georgia Tech split the national championship  this season. The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets are good again, but the Colorado Buffaloes have been down for a long time.


1991 This was the year that the wide rights and wide lefts started for the Seminoles. Florida State was sailing away at #1 until Wide Right 1 happened on November 16, 1991.  The Seminoles lost 17-16 to arch rival Miami on a missed Field Goal and then lost again the following week to their other arch rival, Florida,  14-9.

Then, they recovered to win the Cotton Bowl over the Aggies 10-2. Bad year for the Seminoles, or at least a bad ending, and yet they finished 11-2 and #4.


As 1992 rolled around one has to wonder what the Atlantic Coast Conference was thinking? They let in a monster who would dominate them every season for the next many years at least in football when they added the Florida State Seminoles to their conference. The ACC has always been more of a basketball conference, anyway.

The Miami Hurricanes kind of had the Seminoles number in those days winning again in 1992 over  Florida State, 19-16, in the famous Wide Right II game. 2 years in a row the Seminoles lost a game against their most hated rival in heartbreaking fashion. However, once again the Noles bounced back and won their new conference. Overtime hadn’t started yet in college football so the game would have ended in a tie, which still would have given Florida State the championship, probably.

Florida State finished 11-1 and 8-0 in their first season in the ACC and they finished #2 after an Orange Bowl win over Nebraska, 27-14. Nebraska coach Dr Tom Osborne was starting to wise up about this time since his Huskers kept losing to Florida State and Miami in the Orange Bowl. He finally figured out that he needed more speed on both sides of the ball and he recruited Texas and the South and put together his own little dynasty a couple of years later.


In the 1993 college football season, Florida State  beat Miami in 1993 28-10 and was #1 going in to South Bend, Indiana. In the latest version of the Game of the Century, #2 Notre Dame beat #1 Florida State, 31-24. However, in a change of fortune for the Seminoles, Notre Dame would fall the following week to Boston College handing the national championship opportunity right back to Florida State.

The Seminoles would gladly accept the gift, and they would finish up with a victory over their other main rival, Florida, 33-21. They beat Nebraska 18-16 in the Orange Bowl to claim their first National Title.

Adding to the legend of Florida State, Charlie Ward also won the Heisman Trophy. Ward also won just about every other award there was taking the Johnny Unitas, James E Sullivan, Walter Camp, the Maxwell and the Davey O’Brien Awards. Many consider Charlie Ward the greatest in Florida State history. He was also the first Heisman winner to play in the  NBA. This was the first of 3 National Titles won by the Seminoles in football, and 2 of those under coach Bobby Bowden, the legend. Florida State didn’t start playing football until 1947 so they can’t claim all the fictional national titles that so many schools claim these days. It’s the new trendy thing to do, go back and claim national titles from the early 1900’s and add them to your list.


In 1994 Florida State went 10-1-1 and finished #4. They did not do well against the big rivals in 1994 losing in Miami by 34-20 and tying the Gators 31-31. The tie with Florida will always be known as the Choke at Doak game. Florida has a 28 point lead in the 4th quarter and the Seminoles came roaring back and tied the game at 31. 28 point comeback in the 4th quarter tied an NCAA record. In spite of that, it was still going to end in a tie and supposedly 9 FSU assistant coaches pleaded with Bobby Bowden to go for 2. Apparently, Bowden did not want  a repeat of the Florida State vs Miami game of 1987 which saw the Seminoles lose by a point to the Hurricanes because they came up short on a 2 point conversion. Also, maybe Bowden didn’t want to see his team come back from so far down only to lose the game on a missed conversion. I can only assume and guess what Bobby Bowden must have been thinking in his decision making. Either way, this game was one for the ages and a future post in my game of the century series.

The last 8 years had seen Florida State go 86-11-1. Pretty remarkable record for the Seminoles and it wasn’t quite over with just yet.


In 1995 Florida State started the season undefeated and was sailing right along even beating old nemesis, Miami 41- 17. The Seminoles were particularly potent on offense in 1995 scoring 70 points or over on 3 separate occasions. Their offense featured Danny Kanell and Warrick Dunn a couple of the better players in Seminole history. Florida State was 7-0 and ranked #1 when they got upset by the 24th ranked Virginia Cavaliers 33-28, in Charlottesville, Virginia. The last game of the year was Florida and the Gators ranked #3 beat the #6 ranked Noles 35-24.

The Seminoles beat new adversary Notre Dame, 31-26 in the Orange Bowl finishing 10-2 and ranked #4. You can consider yourself big time if you go 10-2 and finish #4 and consider it a letdown.


In 1996 the Seminoles made it through the entire season undefeated whipping the Hurricanes in Miami, 34-16. Season ending opponent was #1 ranked Florida and that turned into a 24-21 win for the #2 ranked Seminoles,  and then a rematch in the Sugar Bowl which was won by the Gators 52-20. I’ve never been a huge fan of rematch games in college football and especially 2 games in a row. The Seminoles finished 11-1 and ranked #3. Steve Spurrier and the Gators won their own first National Championship.


1997 came along and this was one of the better Seminole teams and in the 4th game Florida State crushed the  Miami Hurricanes, 47-0. They started the season at #5 but worked their way up to #1 by the time the game with the Gators came around.

They lost to #10 Florida 32-29 in an upset, if the term can be used in any of the games involving Florida State, Florida and Miami. The Seminoles then beat #10 Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl fairly convincingly, 31-14. The Seminoles would end up at #3 at 11-1.


In 1998 The Seminoles would lose in a complete shocker in week 2 to unranked North Carolina State, 24-7. They then went on a roll and beat  USC, 30-10. They beat Miami for the 4th year in a row, 26-14. Then, they crushed #23 Georgia Tech, 34-7 and #12 Virginia was no match, either, going down 45-14. #4 Florida was a little tougher with Florida State winning 23-12.

Unfortunately for the Seminoles, their season would end on a down note losing to Tennessee, 23-16 in the Fiesta Bowl. Tennessee won the first ever BCS Championship in 1998.

Florida State would finish up at 11-2 and #3.


1999 was the year of the Seminole. This was the 13th year of a 14 year dynasty and this was the only season for them to go undefeated and untied. That is a pretty incredible stat in itself.

The Noles Squeaked by #10 Georgia Tech in the second week of the season on September 11th back when September 11th did not mean anything other than it was just another day on the calender. Florida State won 41-35 over the Yellow Jackets. They got by #19 and bitter rival, Miami, 31-21. Then, they beat Clemson, 17-14, and then got by #4 Florida, 30-23.

They beat #2 Virginia Tech and Michael Vick in the Sugar Bowl, 46-29, capturing their 2nd national title.

The Florida State Seminoles  finished the 1999 season at 12-0 and #1. Bobby Bowden and his Seminoles finally went undefeated and won the national championship and they did it very impressively.


The 2000 season would see more of the same except after 5 straight wins over Miami, Wide Right III happened  and the Hurricanes would finally win again, 27-24. The Seminoles got hot and crushed everyone else on their schedule starting with thrashings of Duke, Virginia and then #20 North Carolina State, 58-14. Then, they beat #10 Clemson in impressive fashion at 54-7. #4 and huge rival Florida was really no problem either with a convincing 30-7 beat down of the Gators.

The Seminoles earned the right to play for their second consecutive national championship  and took on the Oklahoma Sooners in the Orange Bowl. The Sooners would shut down an offense that had been mostly unstoppable all season long and beat the Seminoles, 13-2. Florida State finished 11-2 and #3 in the country.

Chris Weinke won the Heisman Trophy becoming the 2nd in Seminole history.



Then, suddenly and surprisingly, it was all over. The reasons it ended would be  for another post. Was it because Offensive Coordinator Mark Richt left for the Head Coaching job at Georgia and Bobby Bowden hired his son, Jeff Bowden as his replacement? Was it because of the loss of Chris Weinke?

Did the talent finally run out? Probably, it was a combination of things.


Florida State went 8-4 in 2001 and out of the top 5 in the rankings for the first time in 14 years when they finished ranked #15. 2002 would see a 9-5 finish by the Seminoles and a #21 ranking.


Could the Seminoles be ready to make another run as only Florida State has been able to do? Is current Florida State Seminole coach, Jimbo Fisher, going to be another Bobby Bowden? Or, could he be even better?

The Seminoles are 25-2 over the last 2 seasons and could be poised for another run in 2014 and I see no reason for a bad 2015 right now.

Pull up a chair and sit, this could take a while to play out.

9 thoughts on “The Dynasty: Florida State 1987- 2000

  1. Jeff stone

    I appreciate the dedication!

    It brought back a lot of memories reading through that.

    It’s amazing to me how close they were to having 4 or 5 national championships in that run instead of just two. It’s hard to say, but I think we were a couple of players away from having 3 in a row in 98 – 2000. We went into the 98 bcs game against Tennessee with a 3rd string qb that had never played and lost by a touchdown. In 2000, Snoop Minnis, one of the top receivers in the country was declared in eligible against Oklahoma and we lost in a defensive struggle. Would’ve, could’ve, should’ve, but that dynasty occurred in spite of some pretty bad luck!

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