20-Year Nole Anniversary: FSU Blasts Rival Florida in Top-5 Showdown

by Mike Ferguson

Photo courtesy of Garnet and Great/FSU archivist

Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Chris Weinke was a 3-year starter and passed for more yards than any Florida State quarterback ever.

On this day 20 years ago, Weinke put on a show in his final game in front of the Doak Campbell Stadium crowd. In a complete team effort, FSU blasted rival Florida in a top-5 showdown, 30-7.

Setting the Stage

Florida State was 10-1 and ranked No. 3 in the polls as it got set for Senior Night on Nov. 18, 2000. The Seminoles had won the previous two meetings against rival Florida. At No. 2 in the BCS standings, reigning national champion FSU needed just one win to reach the national championship game for a third straight season.

Florida was 9-1 and ranked No. 4 in the polls. The Gators had not won at Doak Campbell Stadium in 14 years. By the latter parts of the third quarter, it was clear that was not going to change.

The Contest

At one point, the teams were even at seven. FSU drew first blood less than six minutes in on Weinke’s 17-yard touchdown strike to Atrews Bell.

It took Florida less than five minutes to answer as quarterback Jesse Palmer found tight end Aaron Walker. The Gators never scored again, but 56 seconds later, FSU was ahead for good.

After a long pass to Bell, Weinke found Marvin Minnis for the 34-yard scoring strike and the Seminoles never looked back.

Neither team scored in the second quarter, but FSU doubled its lead midway through the third when fullback William McCray scored from a yard out. With just over a minute to play in the quarter, Weinke and Minnis hooked up again on a long touchdown — this one from 51 yards away.

Brett Cimorelli capped the scoring with a 33-yard field goal with less than 11 minutes to play.

Weinke finished the night with 353 yards passing and three touchdowns as the Seminoles put up 443 yards of offense. Minnis had a monster night with 187 yards receiving on eight catches.

The FSU defense also shined, holding Florida to just 37 yards rushing and 315 total yards. FSU forced three turnovers in the victory, including two interceptions from All-American cornerback Tay Cody. Safety Chris Hope also tallied a pick in the victory. Kevin Emanuel tallied the only sack for an FSU defense that recorded seven tackles for loss.

In Hindsight

The victory would propel FSU to the Orange Bowl to play for the BCS national championship. Unfortunately for FSU, Minnis was ruled academically ineligible as the Seminoles fell to Oklahoma, 13-2.

Florida would bounce back to beat Auburn for the SEC Championship before falling to Miami in the Sugar Bowl. The 23-point victory was FSU’s largest over its arch-rivals since 1988. It came on this day two decades ago.



Mike Ferguson is the managing editor for Fifth Quarter. Be sure to follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeWFerguson. Follow all of Mike’s work by liking his Facebook page.

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