Bobby Bowden had long been known as the Riverboat Gambler. Coaches preparing for Florida State had to worry about his penchant for calling trick plays.
And 25 years ago, on Sept. 17, 1988, he called one of the best trick plays in college football history.
With the FSU-Clemson game tied at 21, and the Seminoles set to punt from their own 20, Bowden decided to call a trick play that the FSU staff had developed over the summer, and the time was finally right — Bowden felt — to run it.
The ball was snapped to an upback, Dayne Williams, instead of to punter Tim Corlew. He did his best to sell the play by reaching up high over his shoulder as if the ball was snapped passed him.
Williams walked up and placed the ball between the legs of LeRoy Butler, who escaped a few Clemson players that realized the fake had been called (the majority, however, had turned around and were set up to block for the return). Butler ran down the sideline and was out at the 1-yard line.
Richie Andrews then kicked a 19-yard field goal with 32 seconds left in the game to give FSU the 24-21 win. (Remember at that time in college football there was no overtime.)
After the game, Bowden described the play, even bending over and placing his arms between his hands to illustrate the hand-off from Williams to Butler. When asked why he called the play, Bowden said, “I wanted somebody to win. We were determined –- somebody was going to win that game.”