Originally created 10/09/01

Miami-Florida State rivalry back to life



CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- Tears streamed down Joaquin Gonzalez's face as he kept searching for people to hug. Teammates Santana Moss and Dan Morgan were also crying as the Miami Hurricanes celebrated their win over Florida State last season.

It was their biggest victory as Hurricanes - one that was equally important in renewing one of the top rivalries in college football.

Miami had lost five consecutive games to Florida State before last season, slightly tarnishing a series that had been defined by close games, future NFL stars and national championship implications. That image was restored with the Hurricanes' 27-24 victory at the Orange Bowl.

The in-state rivals play Saturday in Tallahassee, where No. 14 Florida State (3-1) hasn't lost since 1991. Second-ranked Miami (4-0) is the last team to win at Doak Campbell Stadium.

"Growing up in Miami, I remember all the glory days of Miami beating (Florida State) by a point or a field goal," said Gonzalez, Miami's starting right tackle. "Just to be part of that again, and take this program from losing five years straight to finally beating them - and the way we beat them - it was so emotional."

Ken Dorsey drove Miami 68 yards for the go-ahead score, a 13-yard pass to Jeremy Shockey that gave the Hurricanes a three-point lead with 46 seconds to play.

Chris Weinke, who rallied Florida State from a 17-0 halftime deficit with 496 yards passing and three touchdowns, got the Seminoles in position for a game-tying field goal. But Matt Munyon's 49-yard attempt sailed wide right.

Florida State won the rest of its games and edged Miami, which also had one loss, in the final Bowl Championship Series rankings and earned a spot in the national championship game.

"By beating them last year, we definitely renewed the rivalry," defensive end Matt Walters said. "That plus the fact that they got to play in the national championship game last year still irks at our whole team, so it's going to be another heated game."

Florida State and Miami have played every year since 1969, but the game began to mean a lot more in the late 1980s.

In 1987, both teams were ranked in the top five when they met in Tallahassee. The Hurricanes beat the Seminoles 26-25 - FSU's only loss in a season where it won at Michigan State, Auburn and Florida and beat Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl. Miami claimed its second national title.

Florida State was the No. 1 team in the country the following year when the teams met in the Orange Bowl. The Hurricanes drubbed the Seminoles 31-0.

"As I watch film on them now, I get the same feeling that I had in the '80s when (Miami) had those national championship teams," Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said. "Just solid everywhere, very physical and good athletes."

In each of the three meetings between 1991 and 1993, both teams were ranked in the top three. The 1991 and 1992 games - Wide Right I and Wide Right II - were two of the most memorable.

FSU's Gerry Thomas missed a 34-yard field goal with 25 seconds remaining that gave Miami a 17-16 victory in 1991. It also propelled the Hurricanes to their fourth national title.

That was the last time the Seminoles lost at home. They have a 54-game unbeaten streak at Doak Campbell Stadium, the longest current streak in the nation.

Miami beat the Seminoles again in 1992, winning for the seventh time in eight meetings. Dan Mowrey missed a 39-yard field goal on the final play, allowing the Hurricanes to preserve a 19-16 victory.

Florida State won the 1993 game and went on to claim its first national championship. Miami won the following year, but the series got rather lopsided beginning in 1995.

The Hurricanes were on NCAA probation and had a significant number of scholarships taken away, leaving them overmatched in five straight meetings against FSU.

The low point for Miami came in 1997, when the Seminoles won 47-0 in Tallahassee.

"That was the most embarrassing, humiliating thing that ever happened to me as a player or coach," offensive line coach Art Kehoe said. "I've never felt so embarrassed and so uncompetitive and so whipped. It was 47-0 and it could have been 90-0 easily. They took it easy on us.

"We couldn't run the ball, we couldn't protect the passer. Our quarterbacks got knocked off of goalposts. I looked at our line on the sidelines and they were in a complete daze. When we were flying back, I wanted to jump out of the plane. It was as bad a whipping as I ever got."

Many Hurricanes still remember that game. It was the reason Gonzalez, Moss and Morgan were crying after last year's victory - a game that brought this rivalry back to where it once was, and where it probably will stay.

"Beating them last year really ignited the fire between us," Miami fullback Najeh Davenport said.