The Florida State-Florida rivalry may not be the oldest rivalry in college football, but what it lacks in longevity is made up for in intesity. The first game between the two was played in 1958, but the dislike between the two schools started even before that.
In 1947 the Florida State College for Women became coeducational and was renamed Florida State University. The school established a football program and attempted to engage in contract negotiations to play the University of Florida. Florida refused to play the Seminoles for the first 10 years that Florida State fielded a football team. The state legislature of Florida attempted to push through a bill requiring the two schools to play, but it eventually took an appeal from the state Governer to the president of the University of Florida for the two sides to play. In the initial contract the first six games of the series took place in Gainesville due to Florida State's undersized stadium.
The Gators won each of those five of the first six contests before the rivalry made it's way to Tallahassee for the first time in 1964. The Seminoles and Gators tied 3-3 in 1961 and then Florida head coach Ray Graves said the tie was like "A death in the family."
Heisman Trophy winner Steve Spurrier was quarterbacking Florida for the first game in Tallahassee. The Gators wore "Never FSU Never" and "Go For 7" patches on their jerseys for the game. The Seminoles got their first win against Florida 16-7 thanks to a Steve Tensi to Fred Biletnikoff touchdown catch.
The rivalry got even more intense in 1966 when the Seminoles "lost" to the Gators 22-19. Florida State quarterback Gary Pacjic threw a touchdown pass to wide receiver Lane Fenner with less than 15 seconds remaining. The referree ruled that Fenner was out of bounds, but photos published in state news papers the next day showed Fenner well within bounds with possession of the football. Florida State lists the game as a 26-22 win over the Gators.
The rivalry turned into a series of streaks for the next 25 years. Following the 1966 game, the Gators went on an 8-1 run before a new head coach came to Tallahassee. Bobby Bowden lost his first game to Florida in 1976, but reeled off four straight wins against the Gators from 1977-1980. Florida would come right back with a six game winning streak from 1981-1986, and Florida State would win the next four between 1987-1990.
From 1990-2000 every game that was played between the two schools featured a matchup of Top-10 teams. During that time the Seminoles went 8-4-1 against the Gators. Florida State won their first National Championship in 1993 on the back of a 33-21 victory over No. 7 Florida in the Swamp. Florida State quarterback Charlie Ward's performance in that game cemented Ward as that year's Heisman Trophy winner. The first in Florida State's history.
It looked like the Gators were going to get revenge in 1994 when they took a 31-3 lead over Florida State in 1994. Florida State quarterback Danny Kanell led the greatest comeback in college football history to tie the game at 31-31. The game is now known as the "Choke at Doak", and was considered a win by many Florida State fans. The two schools would meet again six weeks later in New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl. The game dubbed the "5th Quarter In The French Quarter," and the Seminoles would win 23-17.
The biggest matchup of the series came in 1996 when the No. 1 Gators took on the No. 2 Seminoles in Tallahassee. Florida State dominated the early part of the game, but Heisman Trophy winner Danny Weurrfel would get the Gators on track. The game got tight in the fourth quarter, but the Seminoles held on for a 24-21 win over the Gators. That was the last time the fans have rushed the field at Doak Campbell Stadium.
The Gators got their revenge in the 1996 National Championship game that year after a number of upsets vaulted the Gators back into the No. 2 spot. Florida decimated the Seminoles 52-20 and won their first National Championship.
Florida State had a chance to make the National Championship game in 1998, but would have to beat the Gators with backup quarterback Marcus Outzen. Florida State dominated the game defensively, and wide receiver Peter Warrick caught and threw touchdown passes. The Seminoles would win 23-12. That win would start a 5-1 run for the Seminoles from 1998-2003.
The 2003 game between the two teams is remembered very differently between the two fanbases. For the Seminoles the game will always be remembered for the game winning 52-yard touchdown pass from Chris Rix to P.K. Sam with under a minute left. Florida fans remember it for the questionable calls made by an ACC officiating crew. The Seminoles won 38-34, and now the conference officials for the home team officiates the games between the two.
Florida would go on a six game winning streak against Florida State from 2004-2009, and in that time would win two National Championships taking a 3-2 lead over the Seminoles in that department as well as in Heisman Trophies. Following the 2009 season, Florida State legend Bobby Bowden retired and Jimbo Fisher took over.
Since Fisher has taken over the Seminoles are 4-1 against the Gators, and have evened up the National Championships and Heisman Trophies with 3. The Seminoles have outscored the Gators 139-77 over the last five years.
This rivalry has been all about the implications as well as the hate. No rivalry in college football has meant more over the past 30 years. This year is no different with the 10-1 Gators and the 9-2 Seminoles. Florida State has a chance to end Florida's playoff hopes while also strengthening their chances for a New Years Six Bowl Game. This should be another great chapter added to the rivalry between the two.