If you’re a NCAAF betting enthusiast that also likes delving into the historical aspect of collegiate gridiron football, then you’re in for a real treat as we take an in-depth look at the longstanding rivalry between the Florida Gators and Florida State Seminoles. Thanks to the expert knowledge that you’re about to get on this always-intriguing matchup, you’re going to have the insight you’ll need in order to cash in on this annual showdown long before their 2015 meeting takes place on Saturday, November 28.
In 1955 Florida Governor LeRoy Collins personally requested University of Florida president J. Wayne Reitz to schedule an annual matchup against ‘younger’ Florida State, but it took three years before that dream would become reality thanks a bunch of bureaucratic bulls@*t between school officials. This series was originally set with all games to be played at Florida’s home field in Gainesville because Florida State’s stadium and facilities were considered too small at the time. This resulted in the first six meetings between the rivals being played on Florida’s campus. Florida State eventually expanded its Doak Campbell Stadium and beginning in 1964, the series has alternated locations between the rival football factories.
Florida and Florida State would eventually meet in 1958 with Florida winning the inaugural matchup 21-7. The Gators would go on to win another half-dozen consecutive games against their in-state rivals before finally falling to the Seminoles for the first time in 1964. Florida State would go on that season to earn its first-ever major bowl berth and top-ten ranking under head coach Bill Peterson, the man responsible for first putting Florida State on the national gridiron map.
At the time, Florida hired head coach Ray Graves to resuscitate a struggling Gators program. When the two teams played to a 3–3 tie in 1961, Graves likened the result to “a death in the family,” thus taking the rivalry to new and unprecedented heights. However, the rivalry was more of a mismatch with Florida dominating the rivalry over the first nearly two decades, going 16-2-1 against the Seminoles from 1958 until 1976.
Beloved all-time wins leader Bobby Bowden landed on the campus of Florida State in 1976 and almost immediately began to improve what had been a mediocre football program up until that point. After losing his first game against the Gators in 1976, the Seminoles would go on to win four straight in the series. During this era, Florida had also changed head coaches, hiring former Clemson leader Charley Pell to replace Doug Dickey in 1979. After getting off to a pitiful 0-10-1 start in his first season, Pell quickly turned Florida’s football program around. Unfortunately, an NCAA investigation revealed that Pell had multiple violations during the early years of his tenure with the Gators and he was fired in 1985 as the program was put on three years’ probation.
Florida played those three years and was held to a limited number of scholarship players. Florida was also penalized by the fact that no Gator football games could not appear on television. These penalties caused the Gators gridiron program to fall behind Florida State in the race for high school recruits, both in and out of state. Florida State would win four straight from 1987-991 while becoming a perennial fixture in the national rankings. During Bowden’s first 14 seasons at Florida State, the schools would split those meetings evenly (7-7).
The 90s Takes Rivalry to New Heights
Did You Know that…from 1990 to 2001, every meeting between Florida and Florida State featured both schools being ranked inside the AP Top 10?
After winning the Heisman Trophy at alma mater Florida in 1966, former Gators signal-caller Steve Spurrier was hired to rejuvenate the Florida football program prior to the 1990 season. In the 11 seasons that took place between 1990-2001, the rivalry between the Gators and Seminoles would reach unprecedented heights. Including the Sugar Bowl rematches following the 1994 and 1996 regular seasons, Florida and Florida State met a whopping 14 times during the span, with, either one or both teams being ranked inside the national Top 10.
DYK Moment No. 2!
Did You Know that the winner of each of the aforementioned annual meetings between 1990 and 2000 would go on to compete in the National Championship in six of those seasons (1993, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2000)?
The decade kicked off with the first-ever meeting of top-10 squads in the history of the rivalry with No.8 Florida State recording a convincing 45-30 home win over No. 6 Florida. Just one year later, with both teams ranked inside the national top five, No. 5 and SEC champion Florida used a late defensive stop to pick up a narrow 14-9 home win over No. 3 Florida State. In 1993, two future Heisman trophy winners in Charlie Ward and Danny Wuerffel started at quarterback for the Seminoles and Gators respectively. The top-ranked ‘Noles would manhandle the Gators en route to a resounding 33–21 victory over the No. 5 Gators before eventually going on to win the Bowl Alliance national championship that season.
Florida led 31-1 to start the fourth quarter in their 1994 matchup, but a furious FSU comeback ended in a 31–31 tie in what became known as the “Choke at Doak”. When the rivals met in the Sugar Bowl later that season in a game that became known as the “The Fifth Quarter in the French Quarter” the Seminoles won 23–17. In 1995, the Gators beat the sixth-ranked Seminoles 35–24 at home to cap off Florida’s first undefeated regular season.
The pair staged their fiercest matchup ever in 1996 when undefeated No. 1 Florida hit the road to take on similarly unbeaten No. 2 Florida State in a regular season matchup that would have bowl game implications for both squads. The Seminoles would go on to win a nail-biter 24-21 that day, but Florida would go on to win the SEC and get a shot at redemption in a Sugar Bowl matchup they would win 52-20 to bag their first national championship.
In 1997, undefeated No. 1 Florida State visited the 10th-ranked Florida in Gainesville, but the Gators would again, pull off the ‘upset’ by taking down the Noles 32–29 with a last-minute touchdown drive. Florida State would eventually go on to extract some revenge against the Gators by defeating three straight Top 4 Florida teams while winning the 1999 national championship. Florida State and Florida would combine for a stunning 14 conference championships and three national championships during the 1990s. The winner of their annual match up would go on to play for the national championship a whopping five times in the decade.
The 2001 game would turn out to be Steve Spurrier’s twelfth and final game in this rivalry as the head coach of the Gators. The Gators entered the game with national title aspirations and laid a humbling 37–13 smackdown on the Seminoles, though they would end up 10–2 and ranked third nationally in both major polls.
Ron Zook made his rivalry debut as Florida’s head coach in 2002, and the game marked the first time since 1986 that neither team was ranked in the AP Poll Top 10. Despite being a home underdog, Bobby Bowden’s Seminoles recorded an easy 31–14 win that season. The following season, Florida would pick up a narrow 38–34 win in Gainesville. Entering the 2004 contest, Zook had already been fired as the Gators’ head man, but was allowed to finish the season for the unranked 7-4 Gators. Florida entered the matchup as heavy underdogs on the night the turf at Doak Campbell Stadium was re-christened “Bobby Bowden Field” but the Gators would go on to record a solid 20-13 win leading them to carry Zook from the field amidst a standing ovation from the visiting Florida fans. Zook’s third and final Florida–Florida State game as the Gators’ coach started a six-game series winning streak for the Gators.
When Florida hired head coach Urban Meyer following Zook’s departure, the Gators would again rise to national prominence, winning the program’s second and third national championships in 2006 and 2008 while Florida State struggled to remain a national title contender during this period. The 2009 rivalry meeting marked Bobby Bowden‘s 36th and final matchup against the Gators in 34 seasons as the Seminoles head coach. The legendary leader would finish his head coaching career with a 17–18–1 record against the Gators.Bowden’s tenure in Tallahassee spanned the tenures of seven different Gators head coaches. Florida State emphatically ended Florida’s winning streak in 2010 by handing the Gators a stunning 31-7 defeat in head coach Jimbo Fisher’s first season. The 2010 game was also marked the last for Florida head coach Urban Meyer and represents his only loss to Florida State in six seasons.
In 2011, Fisher’s Seminoles extended their winning streak to two games by defeating the Gators 21–7 in a defensive struggle despite the fact that they gained less than 100 yards of total offense. The 2012 matchup marked the first time both teams had been ranked inside the BCS top ten since 2004. Florida would win that contest 37-26 to come back from a 20-13 deficit early in the fourth quarter.
In 2013, Florida State was 11-0 going into the contest, while the Gators came in with a pitiful 4-7 record. The Seminoles pounded the Gators 37-7 in Gainesville and won the ACC Championship the very next week. The Seminoles would eventually go on to beat SEC Champion Auburn in the final BCS National Championship game to win their third consensus national title and their first since 1999.
Last season, undefeated No. 1 Florida State beat Florida 24-19 in Gainesville despite four interceptions from quarterback Jameis Winston. The series is tied 4-4 over the past eight meetings, 11-11-1 over the past 23 meetings and a dead-even 21-21-1 in the past 40 years since 1974. The Gators hold a 20–11–1 series advantage in games held in Gainesville and have a one-game edge for those played in Tallahassee 13–12–1.
The Gators and Seminoles have split two neutral-site games with both being Sugar Bowl contests that were played in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans (1994 and 1997). Since alternating the game site, the Gators hold a 29–23–1 edge over the Seminoles. Since Bobby Bowden became the head coach at Florida State in 1976, the Seminoles hold a 21–19–1 advantage over the Gators. Florida leads the all-time series 34–23–2.
By the Betting Numbers
The Gators and Seminoles are both 10-10 SU and ATS over the last 20 meetings, though Florida State has won two straight and four of the last five meetings overall while going 2-3 ATS over the stretch. Florida and Florida State will square off on Sat, Nov 28, 2015 on Florida’s home turf in Gainesville.