Thursday, November 22, 2007

Not the Same

Has Florida – Florida State week ever felt so – blah?

Don’t get me wrong, I want to see the Gators kick the ever living crap out of the ‘Noles this weekend, and I will be at the game cheering myself hoarse.

But what a sad state of affairs that a game once rightly heralded as the “Game of the Year” isn’t even remotely the most consequential game of the afternoon. No, that would go to number 4 Missouri at number 2 Kansas.

Missouri. Kansas. What alternate universe did I wake up in?

Long gone are contests of national significance like –

1993 FSU 33 – UF 21 (Gainesville)

Florida State avenges a 14-9 loss at Florida in 1991 on their way to their first “national title”. The classic play in the game was a 79 yard pass from Charlie Ward to Warrick Dunn that put the Seminoles ahead for good. For those of you too young to recall, it looked like this -

Yeah, that still hurts bad.

Final Records in 1993: FSU 12-1, UF 11-2
Final Rankings: FSU 1, UF 5

1994 UF 31- FSU 31 (Tallahassee)

The Gators Choke in Doak.

This one still stings as a Gator fan. Leading by a seemingly insurmountable 31-3 score, the Gators give up 4 TD’s in the 4th quarter to tie the ‘Noles. FSU then beats Florida in the Sugar Bowl (“The 5th Quarter in the French Quarter”) 23-17.

Final Records in 1993: FSU 10-1-1, UF 10-2-1
Final Rankings: FSU 4, UF 7

1995 UF 35 – FSU 24 (Gainesville)

The Gators beat FSU in the Swamp on route to UF’s 1st “national title” game.

Final Records in 1993: FSU 10-2, UF 12-1
Final Rankings: UF 2, FSU 4

1996 FSU 24 – 21 (Tallahassee)

The penultimate game of the series. Undefeated Florida and Florida State face off in Doak in a one verses two battle for which the only headline of the Tallahassee Democrat is “WAR!”.

Of course the tables are turned about a month later when Florida destroys number 1 FSU in the Sugar Bowl 52 – 20, still the largest margin of defeat for a number 1 team in a national title game.

The Ike Hilliard "Stop and Pop" from that 1997 Sugar Bowl -

Final Records in 1993: FSU 11-1, UF 12-1
Final Rankings: UF 1, FSU 3

1997 UF 32 – FSU 29 (Gainesville)

Undefeated and 1st ranked FSU comes to the Swamp with dreams of a national title, but a late touchdown by the Gators dashes those hopes and the ‘Noles season. The memories of this one are as fond as the 1993 ones are bad -

Nice Gator chomp, fatboy.

Final Records in 1993: FSU 11-1, UF 10-2
Final Rankings: FSU 3, UF 4

1999 FSU 30 – UF 23 (Gainesville)

FSU downs the Gators in the Swamp on the way to their second “national title”.

Final Records in 1993: FSU 12-0, UF 9-4
Final Rankings: FSU 1, UF 12

While 1996-1997 marked the high water point of the series, 1999 marked the start of the decline. While Florida would win a “national title” last year, the most consequential game of the 2006 season for the Gators was a win over SEC rival LSU, as the Seminoles ended the 2006 campaign with a very un-FSU 7-6 record.

And now this.

8-3 Florida, ranked 12th in the BCS and AP, faces 7-4 Florida State who can gather no better than “Others Receiving Votes” in the AP poll. Neither team has a shot at their conference title.

For a state that dominated the polls for the better part of two decades, it is strange and sad to see only the Gators ranked anywhere among the state’s “Big 3”. We were even reduced to wondering at one point this year if USF was the Florida’s best team (and if FSU whallops the Gators, we might be debating that point again).

So instead of national and conference titles, this year’s Florida – Florida State game comes down to contest for perhaps the worst team in the state (remember Miami, although a pitiful 5-6 overall, did beat FSU 37-29 at Doak in December).

Not exactly a rallying cry that.

Sure, I have taken my share of schadenfreude in the struggles of both FSU and Miami. And yes, I won’t remember rankings or records at kickoff time, only a desire to see the Garnet and Gold thoroughly beaten. But the games really are better when they are of greater consequence. This game, although still Florida – Florida State, doesn’t have that feeling.

Here’s hoping it does again sometime soon.


jimcaserta said...

I still think that 97 FSU team was teh best team in the country. Nebraska & Michigan didn't play any games as tough as FSU's game at the swamp. UF beat both FSU & Tennessee, but I think FSU would have given Nebraska a better game in the Orange Bowl than Tennessee did. For the game to return to prominence, FSU will have to get back to their 80's/90's form, which I am hoping against. I think the FL teams should have more non-conference games against each other - UM v USF - we've got UM the next 2 years. It'd be nice to see some other states do the same, say a OSU v Cincy, or say, Troy vs. Bama?

Watching FAU, would Miami beat them this year? Where would UCF fit in? How would you guys rank the D1 teams in FL?

Year2 said...

Oh no, this one still means a lot. After what happened in 2003, FSU still needs retribution. 4 in a row isn't even a good start, it's half of a good start. This one needs to be another 59-20 style game, though I'd be sad to give up that many points.