Florida vs. Florida State: History of the Sunshine State Rivalry

Kyle SymesCorrespondent IIINovember 23, 2011

Florida vs. Florida State: History of the Sunshine State Rivalry

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    The interstate rivalry between the Florida Gators and Florida State Seminoles won't have any national title implications this year, but the game won't be lacking in excitement.

    Ever since the two schools have been meeting each other on the football gridiron, the game has become one of the focal points between Florida sports fans.

    The two teams may not always have the back-and-forth banter that they do with the Miami Hurricanes but that doesn't mean the two teams are sending each other Christmas cards this year either.

The First Game Was in 1958

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    The two teams' first meeting occurred in 1958 when the Florida State Seminoles traveled to Florida Field to take on the Gators.

    The Gators emerged victorious by the score of 21-7.

    The game was three years removed from Florida State becoming a prominent team in college football.

Bill Peterson and FSU Beat Florida, Go Bowlin'

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    Bill Peterson took over the reins at Florida State in 1960 and beat the Gators for the first time in the young rivalry.

    Besides beating the Gators for the first time in 1964, the Seminoles also went to their first bowl game in school history.

    Peterson would also lead Florida State to their first-ever Top 10 ranking during his tenure.

Peterson vs. Graves

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    Around the same time Bill Peterson had been hired to help Florida State's football program, Ray Graves was brought on to do the same for the Florida Gators.

    The rivalry hadn't kicked off in the few years the teams had been playing each other until 1961, when Peterson's Seminoles tied Graves' Gators in their meeting.

    After the 3-3 tie, Graves had some questionable comments about how he felt about the game, which ignited a spark in the rivalry.

Rough Times for the Seminoles

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    The Florida Gators dominated the Seminoles during the early years of the rivalry.

    The Gators went 16-2-1 against FSU from 1958-1976. Much of the success is attributed to Florida having the better resources for its football program.

    Barry Smith, a FSU wide receiver, recalled a game during this span that would haunt him forever in an interview with the Tampa Tribune.

    "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."

Bobby Bowden Evens the Score with Florida

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    With Bobby Bowden's arrival in Tallahassee, the Florida State Seminoles had a renewed faith in their football program.

    Bowden lost his initial contest against the Gators but would go on to win four straight against their state rival.

    From 1976 to the end of the 1980s, the series was all tied at seven wins apiece for both programs.

    Both schools took turns with winning streaks but it was the Seminoles, who were able to finally get on Florida's level in college football, that proved most decisive.

The Golden Years

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    With former Heisman Trophy winner Steve Spurrier returning to his roots to coach the Florida Gators, the rivalry kicked into high gear.

    In every meeting between the two from 1990-2000, both teams were ranked in the Top 10. Every contest had national title implications which was culminated by their matchup in 1996 in which the teams were ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the nation.

    The decade also saw both schools win their first national titles, with Florida State winning in 1994 and the Gators winning theirs in 1996.

    The amount of talent produced by the two schools during this time period is almost unheard of in any rivalry.

'The Choke at Doak' and 'The Fifth Quarter in the French Quarter'

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    In perhaps the most memorable game between the two, the Florida Gators led going into the fourth quarter by a score of 31-3 in Doak Campbell Stadium.

    Many Seminoles fans were already heading to the parking lot trying to beat traffic home. They would regret leaving early as they missed one of the greatest comebacks in college football history.

    FSU's offense erupted in the fourth quarter and eventually tied the score at 31-31. For their colossal failure, the game was dubbed "The Choke At Doak."

    The game ended in a tie but fans were given the opportunity for a rematch when the two teams met in the Sugar Bowl that year.

    Florida State would go on to win the game many fans called "The Fifth Quarter in the French Quarter" by a score of 23-17.

Florida Wins the Next Rematch

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    In the 1996 meeting, Florida entered the game ranked as the best team in the country while Florida State were ranked at No. 2.

    Florida State would win a tough game 24-21 but the Gators would have the last laugh.

    The teams met each other again a few weeks later in the national title game that saw the Gators demolish the Seminoles, 52-20.

    Other than having the last laugh against their hated rival, this was the first national championship in Florida's history.

'The Lost Decade'

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    After the 2001 meeting, the Florida State Seminoles would endure a drought of national title hope known as "The Lost Decade" to fans.

    Seminoles fans saw their teams regularly underperform and saw rival Florida become a national powerhouse.

    The Gators would rattle off six straight victories from 2004-2009 that saw the Gators win convincingly in almost every meeting.

    Urban Meyer would lead a revival at Florida while Bobby Bowden suffered through some of his most disappointing years as Florida State's coach.

'Swindle at the Swamp'

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    Other than "The Choke at Doak," the teams' 2003 meeting is considered to be the most prominent game between the two in recent years.

    In what became known as the "Swindle at the Swamp" the ACC officiating crew made several questionable calls that went against Florida.

    The Gators still clung onto a 34-31 lead until Chris Rix connected on a 52-yard TD pass to propel the Seminoles to victory. The drive was also highlighted by a 4th-and-17 conversion by Rix.

    Besides the questionable calls, the celebration by some Seminoles players who decided to stomp on the "F" logo in the center of the field sparked a postgame brawl.

    FSU's athletic director later apologized and both sides made improvements to make sure nothing like that happened again. For the most part it has worked, as most of the hard hits have been on the field and they've produced some excellent football games.