Florida State-Miami is a very personal rivalry considering that it is a battle between players who grew up playing both with each other across the Sunshine State. Legendary players of both programs have forged themselves in the fires of this annual war and have been involved in high-stakes games that had major national title implications. And while the game has lost some juice in recent years, there are enough memories of yesteryear that still makes this one of the marquee rivalries of the sport.
Below, we’ll dive into the history of FSU vs. UM.
History of Florida State vs. Miami
Total games played: 67
Record: Miami leads 35-32
First game: October 5, 1951, Miami wins 35-13 in Miami
Last game: November 5, 2022, Florida State wins 45-3 in Miami
The rivalry between these two schools began in the years following World War II, when the Florida state legislature designated Florida State College for Women as coeducational and renamed it Florida State University. The school immediately started its modern football program in 1947 and after a few modest years in the Dixie Conference, 1951 proved to be a pivotal year for the young Seminole program because 1. It marked their first season as an independent. 2. It brought their first matchup against in-state foe Miami, also an independent.
Miami would dominate the rivalry through the first decade of the rivalry, with FSU’s first and only victory during that period coming in 1958. However, the Noles would turn the tide of the series in 1963 when Fred Biletnikoff and company blanked the Hurricanes 24-0 to open the season. As FSU’s program grew stronger under head coaches Bill Peterson and Larry Jones in the 1960’s and early ‘70’s, they’d rip off seven straight wins over Miami, which is still tied for the record in the series. Miami would then regain control as both programs began to struggle in the mid-70’s.
A major central figure of the rivalry’s history would enter the scene in 1976 with Bobby Bowden’s arrival to Florida State in 1976. The “King of the Road” not only rebuilt the program in short order, but took it to new heights as he had them playing in their first Orange Bowl by the end of the decade. The 1978 and 1979 seasons brought back-to-back victories over Miami, but it wouldn’t be too long before the Canes were also on the ascent. That 1979 season marked the first year Miami was under the leadership of head coach Howard Schnellenberger, who had spent much of the decade as the offensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins.
And look, if you’re reading this, you know what happens next because you’ve probably seen ‘The U’ 30-for-30 numerous times like I have. In just five seasons, Schnellenberger was able to elevate the Hurricanes from a program that was flirting with ceasing operations altogether to national champions. He does this by hyper-focusing on the wealth of talent available within the city of Miami and the surrounding counties in south Florida, effectively establishing the “State of the U.” Bowden takes a similar approach in Tallahassee as well as both coaches take full advantage of: 1. The increase in Florida talent as a result of the post-WWII population boom. 2. The ability to recruit African American players as southern institutions in a now integrated sport. So what you got were two rising supernova programs in the 1980’s, both of whom were breaking into the ranks of national powers at the same time. That only increased the intensity of this rivalry as both schools suddenly gained national championship aspirations.
And yet, the Hurricanes dominated the Seminoles throughout the ‘80’s, with Schnellenberger and Jimmie Johnson combining for a 7-2 record against Bowden in the decade. In 1988, Miami housed preseason No. 1 Florida State 31-0 in the opener and that ultimately cost the eventual 11-1 Seminoles their first national title. Bowden and company would get their revenge by beating Miami 24-10 in Dennis Erickson’s first season in 1989, but that 11-1 Canes team did go on to win the national title. These games were in the midst of the golden era of the rivalry, where FSU and UM met as top 10 teams every year from 1987 to 1993. The 1991 game marked the first and only time they met as No. 1 vs. No. 2 and...we’ll get to that in just a minute.
Both teams made the decisions to join conferences in the early 1990’s with Miami joining the Big East and FSU joining the ACC. That did not change their dominance over the sport during that period with the ‘U’ winning another national title in 1991 and Bobby Bowden and the Noles finally winning the big one in 1993. However, NCAA sanctions caught up to Miami in the mid-late ‘90’s and as the program took a step back, Florida State was able to rattle off five straight victories in the series from 1995 to their second national year in 1999.
However, Butch Davis was able to stack the Hurricanes roster in the late 90’s and by the turn of the century, the program returned to it’s throne as a juggernaut of the sport. From 2000 to 2004, Miami would rattle off six straight victories over Florida State, one of them being in the 2004 Orange Bowl. During their historic national championship season in 2001, they went up to Tallahassee and smacked the Seminoles in a 49-27 blowout, a harbinger the Noles beginning to fade under Bowden. Miami’s victory in the 2004 season opener was significant as it marked the first time the two faced each other as conference foes. The Hurricanes departed the Big East for the ACC and the league placed them in separate divisions with the idea that they’d regularly meet in the ACC Championship Game (Spoiler alert: this has still yet to happen).
As the Bowden era came to a close in the late 2000’s, the FSU-UM rivalry would lose a lot of steam as both programs fell into mediocrity. Miami would defeat the legendary head coach one last time in 2009 before newly appointed Noles head coach Jimbo Fisher began a run of dominance. As the Noles re-emerged as a national title contender in the early-mid 2010’s, they roasted the Canes with seven straight victories. FSU’s Jameis Winston-led national title team in 2013 put a 41-14 whooping on UM in Tallahassee.
With Fisher having one foot out the door in 2017, Miami finally got back on the board with a 24-20 victory and began a four-game streak. Heading into this season, Florida State has won two straight under Mike Norvell.
Biggest game in series history: 1991
“This could be for a national championship....It’s up....missed it to the right!”
As mentioned before, The 1991 clash in Tallahassee pitted No. 1 Florida State against No. 2 Miami on November 16. This highly anticipated matchup earned the fabled “Game of the Century” moniker and was just the second time in college football history that a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup featured two teams from the same state.
Trailing 16-7 in the third quarter, future Heisman Trophy winner Gino Torretta and the Hurricane offense came back and took a 17-16 lead with 3:01 left in the contest. The Casey Weldon-led Nole offense was able to get into field goal range and potantially force a tie. With 29 seconds left and no timeouts remaining, Bowden elected to try for a field goal instead of attempting another play. Gerry Thomas came out for the kick and the rest is history. Take it away Keith Jackson:
Wide Right I. That one missed kick ruined FSU’s bid for a perfect season and a loss to other hated nemesis Florida two weeks later ruined its national title hopes. Eclipsing them at No. 1 was Miami, who did run the table and smoked Nebraska in the Orange Bowl to win another natty.
FSU would suffer more brutality with Wide Right II happening the following year in Miami. Years later in 2000, the Noles were victims of another kicker folly in Wide Right III and in 2002, they experienced Wide Left. Florida State fans, you’ve gone through it on multiple occassions.
Odds for 2023 via DraftKings Sportsbook
Spread: Florida State -14
Moneyline: FSU -625, Miami +455