Miami vs Florida State: A legendary college football rivalry

Former UM running back DeeJay Dallas, then a sophomore, runs through Florida State defenders on Oct. 6, 2018 at Hard Rock Stadium. Miami won 28-27.
Former UM running back DeeJay Dallas, then a sophomore, runs through Florida State defenders on Oct. 6, 2018 at Hard Rock Stadium. Miami won 28-27. Photo credit: Josh Halper

For decades, the Miami Hurricanes and Florida State Seminoles have had one of the most distinguished rivalries in all of college football. From blown leads and miraculous comebacks to tightly-contested duels on the gridiron, history has proven time and time again that any match between the two programs is bound to be a blockbuster.

With the next chapter of this famed rivalry taking place on Saturday, Nov. 13 at 3:30 p.m., the Hurricanes, who hold a 4-4 overall record and a 2-2 record within the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)), will take to Tallahassee to mark 60 years of competition versus the Seminoles, who have a 3-5 overall record and a 2-2 ACC record.

The University of Miami and Florida State University (FSU) began their battle for state supremacy in 1951, when Miami blew out Florida State 35-13. Since then, the two have competed in 64 games, with 31 of them decided by one possession or less.

Today, UM leads the all-time series with a 35-30 record, which narrowed to a one game difference in 2016. In 2010, the Seminoles embarked on a seven-game, seven-season win streak over the Canes. During that span, Florida State stifled Miami’s offense, keeping the Hurricanes under 20 points on four occasions. UM has since gotten the best of its cross-state foe, winning the past four contests.

However, much of the heated rivalry that burns to this day began in the 1980s, when both programs asserted themselves as two of the best in the nation.

The early ‘80s pitted legendary coaches Howard Schnellenberger and Bobby Bowden against each other. Schnellenberger and the Hurricanes stacked the win column against the Seminoles early and often, claiming a 3-1 record over FSU from 1980 through 1983, when the Hurricanes earned their first national championship.

The following year, Florida State retaliated and humbled the defending national champions with a crushing 38-3 victory as Miami adapted to the new leadership of head coach Jimmy Johnson.

In 1987, the UM-FSU rivalry reached a climax. In front of a sold-out crowd in Tallahassee, No. 3 Miami and No. 4 Florida State competed on a field that featured more than 60 future NFL players, 10 of which were first-round draft selections.

With 42 seconds left on the clock, Florida State quarterback Danny McManus found Ronald Lewis in the end zone to cut their deficit to one. However, instead of going for the tie, Bowden made a last-minute decision to attempt a two-point conversion and go for the win.

“We had the extra-point team in, but I changed my mind. We had missed so many [kicks] today and the wind was really affecting our kicker,” Bowden said in his postgame press conference. “I was just afraid of missing it.”

An incomplete pass on the two-point conversion shut the door on the Seminoles, rewarding the Canes with a much-needed 26-25 win in what would become their second championship season.

After getting blown out 31-0 in 1988, Florida State got its revenge in 1989 with a 24-10 victory over Miami to snap a four-game losing streak. However, the Hurricanes ultimately got the last laugh with a win for their third national championship of the decade later that season.

In 1991, the UM-FSU rivalry reached another peak on a day that lives in eternal infamy for Florida State fans. The No.1 Seminoles (10-0) hosted the No. 2 Hurricanes (8-0) and with under a minute remaining on the clock and Miami leading 17-16, Florida State kicker Gerry Thomas missed a 34-yard field goal, sending the Seminoles home with their first loss of the season in what came to be known as the “Wide Right” game.

As if one game-deciding missed field goal wasn’t enough, the UM-FSU rivalry features five additional crucial games decided by whiffed field goals, all of which resulted in wins for Miami.

Twenty years later, the Hurricanes have a chance to recreate the magic of Wide Right I in this year’s match-up against the Seminoles at Doak Campbell Stadium. While neither team is ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 well into the second half of the season, the rivalry game has serious implications for Miami’s chances at a conference title this season.

In the ACC Coastal division standings, Miami ranks third and trails No. 25 Pitt (7-2, 4-1 ACC) and Virginia (6-3, 4-2 ACC). With three games remaining in their regular season schedule, the Hurricanes sit one game behind Pitt for the coastal division lead.

A statement win over their long-time rival could set the Canes on a path to contend for their first conference title. But at the very least, it will stir the pot in the ACC and keep things interesting throughout the final weeks of the regular season.