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Florida – Florida State football rivalry

Florida athletics logo
Florida State athletics logo
Teams Florida Gators
Florida St. Seminoles
Originated 1958
Series Florida leads, 33-19-2[1][2]
Current Champion Florida
Largest Victory 1973 Florida 49-0
Current Streak Florida: 6
Trophy None

Florida (33)
1958 1959 1960
1962 1963 1965
1966 1968 1969
1970 1971 1972
1973 1974 1975
1976 1981 1982
1983 1984 1985
1986 1991 1995
1997* 1997 2001
2004 2005 2006
2007 2008 2009
Florida St. (19)
1964 1967 1977
1978 1979 1980
1987 1988 1989
1990 1992 1993
1995* 1996 1998
1999 2000 2002
Ties (2)
1961, 1994
*Sugar Bowl

The Florida – Florida State rivalry, sometimes called the "Sunshine Showdown", is an athletic rivalry between the two flagship public universities of the state of Florida: the University of Florida and Florida State University. Although both schools participate in a range of intercollegiate sports, the competition between the Florida Gators and Florida State Seminoles has tended to focus on football.

Florida dominated the early contests, but the series has been more balanced since then. The Gators lead the overall series 33-19-2, though have only had an 18-17-1 record against the Seminoles since Bobby Bowden became FSU’s head coach in 1976. For the past several decades, one or both squads have often been highly ranked coming into the game, adding national championship implications to a rivalry already heavily weighted with in-state bragging rights.




Roots of a rivalry

The University of Florida has been fielding an officially sanctioned football team since 1906. Though Florida State University (then known as “Florida State College”) played football for several years around 1900, it became a women’s college in 1905 and remained so until 1947, when the football team was re-established.

Almost immediately, pressure began building for the Gators to play the new team in-state. Some believe that it took an act of the Florida state legislature to force the contest to take place. This is not entirely true – a bill demanding a UF vs. FSU football series was proposed in 1955 but was voted down. However, this bill eventually forced the University of Florida to bow to the pressure from state leaders and the teams agreed to schedule a yearly series starting in 1958.[3]

One of the conditions that the University of Florida put on the agreement was that the contest must always be held in their home stadium, Florida Field in Gainesville. Since 1964, however, the game site has alternated yearly between the Gators’ field and the Seminoles’ home turf of Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee.

Early Contests

After the Florida State College for Women was integrated as Florida State University, the newly formed football team was struggling. Though it had some success early on, by the late 50's the FSU football teams were constantly having horrible seasons. The two teams first played each other on 1958 in Gainesville with Florida winning 21-7. The Seminoles would not win a game in the series until the first game in Tallahassee that was played in 1964. The Gators would dominate the rivalry in its formative years, the Gators were a remarkable 16-2-1 against the Seminoles from 1958 until 1976.

One particularly poor stretch in the 1958-76 slump for the Seminoles was from 1969-72 when wide receiver Barry Smith was playing for Florida State. He didn't play in the 1969 contest since freshmen were not eligible then but recalled the 1970-72 games in a recent Tampa Tribune article,

". . . My sophomore year . . . I ran a reverse . . . and I remember being nailed by Jack Youngblood. I remember watching the ball being pitched to me and thinking, when the ball was about halfway, that it was kind of race to see whether he was going to get to the ball first or me. He was foaming at the mouth. I still have nightmares from the hit he gave me . . . My junior year, we were 5-0 and Florida was 0-5. There is no question that we were the much better team, and they beat us . . . My senior year, we're playing Florida at home and we're 4-0. They had a decent team, but it wasn't like the year before . . . Chan Gailey was their quarterback, and he had a big game. That game was a blowout. They torched us. It got so bad, I had to throw a touchdown pass . . ." [1]

The arrival of Bowden & the rise and fall of Pell

Bobby Bowden arrived at Florida State in 1976 and began to turn around the anemic program. After losing his first game against Florida in 1976, the Seminoles would win the next four in the rivalry, their first wins in the series since 1967. This would begin a decade and a half period in which the rivals would take turns running off winning streaks against the other.

The Gators changed leadership as well, hiring Coach Charlie Pell from Clemson University to replace Doug Dickey in 1979. After a dismal 0-10-1 first season, Pell quickly turned around the Florida program, fielding championship-contending teams by the early 1980s.

Under Pell's leadership, Florida took their turn dominating the rivalry from 1980-1986, including putting a series-record 53 points on the scoreboard in the 1983 contest. However, an NCAA investigation of Florida's football program revealed multiple violations of rules in the early years of Pell's tenure. Pell was fired and the program put on probation beginning in 1985. For the next 3 seasons, Florida played with a reduced number of scholarship players and Gator football games could not appear on television, setting the program back considerably and allowing Florida State to sign more talented in-state high school recruits.

In 1986, the Gators extended their winning streak against FSU with a 17-13 upset in Tallahassee. However, FSU then ran off four consecutive victories over Florida as they became a fixture in the top-10 rankings and Florida's program floundered under heavy NCAA sanctions.

From the arrival of Bowden in 1976 to the end of the 1980s, the series was tied 7-7. The return of a familiar face to the Gators' sideline before the 1990 season would bring the rivalry to new national prominence.

1990 - 2000

Steve Spurrier, who had won a Heisman Trophy as Florida's quarterback in 1966, returned to coach the Gators for the 1990 season. The decade that followed has been the most meaningful decade in the Florida-Florida State rivalry so far. Because of the Sugar Bowl rematches in 1994 and 1996, they met 12 times through the period. And each time, they were each ranked in the top ten in the national rankings.

The decade began auspiciously with the first meeting of top-10 squads in the history of the rivalry (UF #6, FSU #8) heading into FSU's 45-30 win in Tallahassee [4]. The stakes were even higher the following year in Gainesville, as both teams were ranked in the top 5 (FSU #3, UF #5). The Gators had just clinched their first SEC Championship while the Seminoles were still feeling the sting of a defeat at the hands of the rival Miami Hurricanes. The game was a defensive struggle that culminated in a Gator defensive stand late in the 4th quarter to preserve a 14-9 win. FSU won the 1992 contest in Tallahassee, yet another meeting of top ten squads.

1993 brought about a collection of talent perhaps unequaled in the history of the rivalry. Two future Heisman trophy winners in Charlie Ward and Danny Wuerffel were starting at quarterback. The #1 Seminoles beat the #7 Gators 33-21, and went on to win the National Championship. In the 1994 contest in Tallahassee, Florida held a 31-3 lead at the start of the 4th quarter, but a furious FSU comeback ended in a 31-31 tie in what became known as the "Choke at Doak". The teams were given a rematch in the Sugar Bowl ("The Fifth Quarter in the French Quarter"), which the Seminoles won 23-17. The #3 Gators beat the #6 Seminoles 35-24 in Gainesville in 1995, capping off Florida's first undefeated regular season.

For national championship implications, 1996 was the high point of the series. Both teams were undefeated and ranked #1 (UF) and #2 (FSU) coming into their regular season finale in Tallahassee, where the Seminoles won a hard-fought contest 24-21. However, the season belonged to Florida, as their 52-20 win in a Sugar Bowl rematch gave them their first national title. FSU was #1 and undefeated coming into the 1997 contest against the #10 Gators in Gainesville, but Florida won again 32-29. After these setbacks, Florida State closed out the decade with 3 straight victories over Florida, winning the 1998 and 2000 games in Tallahassee and the 1999 contest in Gainesville on their way to a second national championship.

Florida State and Florida combined for 14 conference championships and 3 national championships during the 1990s. Through those years, FSU held a 7-4-1 advantage in a rivalry that was arguably the most important in college football during that time.


After a period when every game in the rivalry had national title implications, each squad suffered through some less successful seasons after the turn of the millennium. Florida won 37-13 at home in 2001 while the Seminoles won next year's contest in Tallahassee 31-14. The 2002 game marked the first time neither squad was ranked in the top-10 coming into the game since 1983.

Both teams were almost back in the top 10 for the Florida State's 2003 victory in Gainesville (UF #11, FSU #9), but Florida would drop completely out of the top-25 before the 2004 contest. That game was the first to not air on a broadcast network in over a decade, as ESPN carried the game from Tallahassee. Led by lame duck coach Ron Zook, Florida upset the #10 Seminoles 20-13, winning for the first time in Tallahassee since 1986.

This would start a streak of 6 straight games in which Florida defeated their arch-rivals as the Gators returned to national prominence under coach Urban Meyer (winning the program's second and third national championships in 2006 and 2008) while Florida State struggled through several sub-par campaigns. Through the 2009 season, Florida holds a 7-2 advantage in the period.

Game Results

Florida victories are shaded ██ blue. Florida State victories shaded in ██ garnet.

Year Florida Florida State Location
1958 12 Florida 21 Florida State 7 Gainesville, FL
1959 Florida 18 Florida State 8 Gainesville, FL
1960 Florida 3 Florida State 0 Gainesville, FL
1961 17 Florida 3 Florida State 3 Gainesville, FL
1962 Florida 20 Florida State 7 Gainesville, FL
1963 Florida 7 Florida State 0 Gainesville, FL
1964 14 Florida 7 12 Florida State 16 Tallahassee, FL
1965 Florida 30 Florida State 17 Gainesville, FL
1966 10 Florida 22 Florida State 19 Tallahassee, FL
1967 18 Florida 16 16 Florida State 21 Gainesville, FL
1968 5 Florida 9 20 Florida State 3 Tallahassee, FL
1969 12 Florida 21 Florida State 6 Gainesville, FL
1970 Florida 38 Florida State 27 Tallahassee, FL
1971 Florida 17 16 Florida State 15 Gainesville, FL
1972 Florida 42 11 Florida State 13 Tallahassee, FL
1973 Florida 49 Florida State 0 Gainesville, FL
1974 14 Florida 24 Florida State 14 Tallahassee, FL
1975 14 Florida 34 Florida State 8 Gainesville, FL
1976 12 Florida 33 Florida State 26 Tallahassee, FL
1977 Florida 9 19 Florida State 37 Gainesville, FL
1978 Florida 21 Florida State 38 Tallahassee, FL
1979 Florida 16 5 Florida State 27 Gainesville, FL
1980 19 Florida 13 3 Florida State 17 Tallahassee, FL
1981 Florida 35 Florida State 3 Gainesville, FL
1982 Florida 13 15 Florida State 10 Tallahassee, FL
1983 12 Florida 53 Florida State 14 Gainesville, FL
1984 3 Florida 27 12 Florida State 17 Tallahassee, FL
1985 6 Florida 38 12 Florida State 14 Gainesville, FL
1986 Florida 17 Florida State 13 Tallahassee, FL
1987 Florida 14 3 Florida State 28 Gainesville, FL
1988 Florida 17 5 Florida State 52 Tallahassee, FL
1989 Florida 17 6 Florida State 24 Gainesville, FL
1990 6 Florida 30 8 Florida State 45 Tallahassee, FL
1991 5 Florida 14 3 Florida State 9 Gainesville, FL
1992 6 Florida 24 3 Florida State 45 Tallahassee, FL
1993 7 Florida 21 1 Florida State 33 Gainesville, FL
1994 4 Florida 31 7 Florida State 31 Tallahassee, FL
1995* 3 Florida 17 6 Florida State 23 New Orleans, LA
1995 3 Florida 35 6 Florida State 24 Gainesville, FL
1996 1 Florida 21 2 Florida State 24 Tallahassee, FL
1997* 3 Florida 52 1 Florida State 20 New Orleans, LA
1997 10 Florida 32 1 Florida State 29 Gainesville, FL
1998 4 Florida 12 5 Florida State 23 Tallahassee, FL
1999 3 Florida 23 1 Florida State 30 Gainesville, FL
2000 4 Florida 7 3 Florida State 30 Tallahassee, FL
2001 4 Florida 37 20 Florida State 13 Gainesville, FL
2002 11 Florida 14 23 Florida State 31 Tallahassee, FL
2003 11 Florida 34 9 Florida State 38 Gainesville, FL
2004 Florida 20 8 Florida State 13 Tallahassee, FL
2005 19 Florida 34 21 Florida State 7 Gainesville, FL
2006 4 Florida 21 Florida State 14 Tallahassee, FL
2007 13 Florida 45 Florida State 12 Gainesville, FL
2008 4 Florida 45 20 Florida State 15 Tallahassee, FL
2009 1 Florida 37 Florida State 10 Gainesville, FL

*Sugar Bowl

Notable Games

1966 - Catch or Not?

In an otherwise unremarkable game coming in to this 8th annual contest between the burgeoning rivals, this game established the rivalry in full due to the controversy that surrounded its outcome. In a tight contest, UF led the Seminoles late in the game, 22-19. FSU had the ball at the Gator 45 yard line with 17 second left in the game. On first down, little used and previously injured wide receiver Lane Fenner entered the game in place of FSU's star receiver Ron Sellers. FSU quarterback Gary Pajcic took the snap, Fenner got behind UF defenders, and Pajcic lofted a pass to Fenner in the front corner of the end zone for what appeared to be a game-winning FSU touchdown. However, referee Doug Moseley signaled that Fenner did not have control of the ball before rolling out of bounds and ruled the pass incomplete [5]

UF ended up holding on for a 22-19 win, but the controversy heated up after the game when photos that apparently showed Fenner making the catch in the endzone were published in state newspapers. Debate over whether or not the play should have been ruled a touchdown continues to this day. [6]

1969 - Cappleman Crunch

Both Florida and Florida State were 2-0 when the teams met in 1969. The Gators had defeated number one ranked University of Houston two week prior and FSU was off to a good start as well. The Gators won this matchup 21-6 on the back of a defensive surge that was unparalleled in Gator history. The Gator defense, led by junior defensive lineman Jack Youngblood (5 sacks) and sophomore defensive lineman Robert Harrell, sacked Cappelman 11 times for -91 yards leaving FSU with a total of -18 yards rushing in the game. In addition to the pass rush, the FSU offense fumbled the ball eight times, losing five. Two other Gator Sophomores starred in the game as well, All-American wide out Carlos Alvarez and quarterback John Reaves. The Gators went on to a 9-1-1 record including a victory over the University of Tennessee in the Gator Bowl.

1993 - Ward to Dunn

The Seminoles came into The Swamp ranked #1 and looking to play for the national championship. Florida had clinched the SEC championship and were themselves ranked in the top 5. Early on it looked to be a Florida State rout, as the Seminoles took a 27-7 lead into the 4th quarter. However, Florida scored two quick touchdowns to make the score 27-21. With 6 minutes remaining, the Seminoles faced 3rd down at their own 21. Unfazed, Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Charlie Ward hit freshman Warrick Dunn up the sideline for a 79 yard game clinching touchdown and a 33-21 FSU win.

1994 - The Choke at Doak

What is to be said the greatest fourth quarter comeback of all time. The Gators led the Seminoles 31-3 at the start of the 4th quarter. However, the Seminoles scored 28 points in the final quarter to tie the game 31-31. The Seminoles then won a rematch in the Sugar Bowl 23-17, referred to as, "The Fifth Quarter in the French Quarter."

1996 - #1 vs #2

The #1 ranked and undefeated Gators came in to Tallahassee favored against the #2 ranked Seminoles. The 'noles got off to a quick start when Peter Boulware blocked the Gator's first punt of the game, resulting in a touchdown. Florida's eventual Heisman Trophy winner QB Danny Wuerffel threw three interceptions in the first half, and FSU entered the intermission with a 17-0 lead.

Wuerffel got on track in the second half, throwing for three TDs. The last one (to WR Reidel Anthony) cut the Florida State lead to three points with just over a minute left to play. The ensuing onside kick went out of bounds, however, and the Seminoles held on for the 24-21 upset win.[7]

The stars of the game were FSU running back Warrick Dunn, who rushed for 185 yards; Wuerffel, who threw for 362 yards; and the FSU defense, which sacked Wuerffel 6 times and knocked him to the turf on many other occasions. That Seminole pass rush became a source of controversy after the game when Gators' coach Steve Spurrier claimed that FSU players had deliberately tried injure his star quarterback with late hits and "cheap shots"[8]. The Seminoles had been flagged for roughing the passer twice during the game, and Spurrier had the UF video staff compile footage which he claimed showed FSU players tackling Wuerffel late a half-dozen additional times.[9]

1997 Sugar Bowl - Rematch for a title

The late-hit controversy that began after the team's regular season meeting intensified when Texas upset #3 Nebraska in the Big 12 Championship Game and Florida defeated Alabama in the SEC Championship Game, creating an FSU/UF rematch in the Sugar Bowl. Spurrier continued to complain to the press about the issue while FSU coach Bobby Bowden responded that he thought the hits in question were clean while admitting that "we just hit to the echo of the whistle instead of the whistle."[10]

The Sugar Bowl match-up gained even more importance the night before the game when #2 Arizona State lost to #4 Ohio State in the Rose Bowl, making the contest between the #3 Gators and the #1 Seminoles a defacto national championship game.

To counter FSU's pass rush, Spurrier installed the shotgun formation in an attempt to give QB Danny Wuerffel more time to throw[11]. The plan worked, as the Gators turned a close game (it was 24-20 early in the 2nd half) into a 52-20 rout behind Wuerffel's 306 yards and 3 TDs, giving them their first national championship. [12]

1997 - The Greatest Game Ever Played in the Swamp

The Seminoles came in ranked #1 while UF came in #10 with a record of 8-2. The Seminoles came in as a heavy favorite, with some football pundits giving them a 32-point spread. However, Gator senior tailback Fred Taylor would have a monster day, scoring four touchdowns as the Gators upset the Seminoles 32-29. Down 25-29 with 2:33 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Gators began a drive from their own 20 yard line. The first play was a 63 yard pass from Doug Johnson to Jacquez Green to the Seminoles 17 yard line. Taylor then ran the ball to down the two yard line, and scored his fourth touchdown on the next play. The Gators drove 80 yards in 44 seconds on three plays. On the ensuing Seminoles' drive, Linebacker Dwayne Thomas intercepted Thad Busby's third down and eleven pass with 1:06 remaining to seal the win for Florida.

1998 - Not In Our House

This 1998 battle between the in state rivals started before the whistle even blew. A pre-game fight caused Florida's starting senior safety, Tony George, and a couple walk on FSU players who were not even dressed, to be ejected from the game. In the midst of the fight, it is rumored that Florida quarterback Doug Johnson attempted to peg FSU coach Bobby Bowden with a football. Johnson did later apologize to Bowden, claiming that he had no target, he just threw the ball. Florida State's defense came in the ballgame rated #1 in the nation, Florida's defense was rated #1 in the SEC, so the game was set to be a defensive battle. Florida struck first with a 50 yard Doug Johnson touchdown pass, but Seminoles Peter Warrick and Travis Minor put the Seminoles in scoring position twice and Placekicker Sebastian Janikowski kicked two field goals to make the game 7-6. After a Florida punt the Seminoles were at their own 5 yard line and Florida forced a safety. And then Doug Johnson drove Florida deep into Florida State territory after the Safety Kick, but Florida State's defense stiffened and forced Florida to settle for 3 points. At halftime, the game was 12-6, Florida. In the second half Florida State's defense held Florida scoreless. Florida State's first touchdown of the game came when Marcus Outzen connected with Peter Warrick on a touchdown throw, then later in the game, Peter Warrick threw a touchdown to Ron Dougans. The game ended 23-12, with Florida State the winner.

2003 - The Swindle in the Swamp

This contest was marred by controversy, as the ACC-affiliated officiating crew made questionable calls on multiple fumble/no-fumble plays that went against Florida[13][14] [15][16].Still, Florida held a 34-31 lead late in the fourth quarter when Seminole QB Chris Rix hit WR PK Sam for a 52 yard touchdown pass, giving Florida State a 38-34 win. Before the winning score, Rix had completed a 1st down pass on 4th and 17 deep in Seminole territory to keep the drive alive.

After the game, a fight broke out on the field between the Florida and Florida State players after some Seminole players celebrated the win by jumping on the "F" logo in the center of Florida Field. FSU's athletic director apologized on behalf of the university for sparking the incident[17] and both schools took steps to make sure similar incidents did not reoccur.

2004 - Ron Zook Field

The unranked and 7-4 Gators were heavy underdogs when they arrived to face the #8 Seminoles in Doak Campbell Stadium, where they had not won since 1986. But on the night in which the turf was re-christened Bobby Bowden Field in honor of the long-serving Florida State coach, victory belonged to Florida's Ron Zook, 20-13.

Zook was winding down his tenure as the Gators' head man, as Florida athletic director, Jeremy Foley, had previously announced that he would be let go at the end of the season. In what would be his final game in the position, the lame duck coach accomplished something not even Steve Spurrier had accomplished: beating FSU in Tallahassee[18] Although Zook had been ridiculed by some Gator fans throughout his tenure at UF, the visiting fans in attendance gave him a standing ovation as his team triumphantly lifted their coach onto their shoulders. This game has led some UF fans to jokingly refer to Bobby Bowden Field at Doak Campbell Stadium as "Ron Zook Field"[19]. As might be expected, this nickname given to the field by some Gator fans has only served to further fuel the fire of the rivalry between these two football teams and their fan bases.

2009 - Farewells in the Swamp

An undefeated and top-ranked Gator squad welcomed the 6-5 Seminoles to the Swamp for the last regular season game for both squads in a contest that would be remembered more for goodbyes than for the actual game. On the field, Florida ran out to a 30-0 3rd quarter lead before pulling the starters and winning 37-10, their 6th consecutive victory in the series[20].

The contest was the last home game for Florida's senior class, including record-setting quarterback Tim Tebow, who accounted for 5 touchdowns (3 passing, 2 rushing) on the afternoon. During his last drive in the 3rd quarter, the stands twinkled with thousands of camera flashes as Gator fans captured images of Tebow taking his final snaps on Florida Field. [21]

The game also marked the last time Bobby Bowden would coach in the Swamp. Bowden had come under increasing pressure to retire after several sub-par seasons and acknowledged before and after the game that he would not be coaching the Seminoles when they next returned to Gainesville in 2011[22].


  1. ^ These records show up until 2006
  2. ^ This shows the 2007 matchup,0,2871202.photogallery
  3. ^ 50 Things You Should Know About The UF-FSU Series
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^,6337689
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ Swindle in the Swamp
  14. ^ - Seminoles sack Swamp on Sam's final-minute TD grab
  15. ^ CBS Sportsline:Disputed Calls in Florida-Florida State Game
  16. ^ ACC commish admits errors in FSU-UF game
  17. ^ ESPN - Post-fight apology, no suspensions - College Football
  18. ^ ESPN - Zook, not Spurrier, gets a win at FSU - NCAA College Football Recap
  19. ^ "Doak Campbell stadium will always be known as Ron Zook field by Gator fans."
  20. ^
  21. ^,0,7826341.column
  22. ^


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