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FSU Football: Top 5 Orange Bowl Games For Seminoles All-Time
College Football

FSU Football: Top 5 Orange Bowl Games For Seminoles All-Time

Updated Mar. 4, 2020 10:49 p.m. ET

With FSU football preparing for another Orange Bowl battle, we take a look at the top five games the Seminoles have played in the bowl.

For the second time this season, the Florida State Seminoles football team will be playing a game inside the limits of Miami-Dade County and Hard Rock Stadium. This time, it will be in the 83rd edition of the Capital One Orange Bowl, where FSU football will be taking the field against the Michigan Wolverines.

For the ‘Noles, it will be the 10th time that they will be taking part in the South Florida tradition – and the fifth time they will be playing the game inside its current stadium. In that time, there have been overtime thrillers, national titles won and lost and victories over hated foes to end the season on the right note.

With a record of 4-5 entering this year’s game, the ‘Noles will be looking to get back to .500. But even the setbacks in the game haven’t always been ones to forget. Here’s a look at the five best Orange Bowl games involving FSU football all-time.


Nov 8, 2012; Blacksburg, VA, USA; A Florida State Seminoles helmet on the field before the game at Lane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

No. 5 – 2006 Orange Bowl (Penn State 26 Florida State 23)

Okay, you never want to see your team lose – and anyone who was inside what was then called Pro Player Stadium that night will admit they did walk out disappointed. But it wasn’t nearly as bad when you look at where the team had been that season. A three game losing streak to end the regular season was washed away with an upset win in the ACC title game, sending the ‘Noles to South Florida.

In a game the Seminoles had no business being in, FSU football took the lead thanks to another punt return touchdown by Willie Reid and a Drew Weatherford touchdown pass to Lorenzo Booker. Penn State would come back and take the lead before FSU tied it in regulation, then the teams exchange heartache and anxiety for three overtimes well into the early morning before the Nittany Lions came out on top – Florida State’s third straight Orange Bowl loss.

No. 4 – 2013 Orange Bowl (Florida State 31 Northern Illinois 10)

It would be another seven seasons before the Seminoles would make it back to the biggest bowl game in the Sunshine State, which now was the home of the ACC champion. In the next to last year of the BCS, this edition of the game put the ‘Noles up against one of just six teams from a non-automatic qualifying conference to make it…the fighting Huskies of Northern Illinois.

For the first three quarters, a combination of lethargic play by the Seminoles and the Huskies thinking they had a shot kept them in it. In the fourth quarter, FSU football showed who they really were with two rushing touchdowns and a suffocating defense that reminded NIU they weren’t ready for this game, giving the Seminoles their first Orange Bowl win in nearly two decades.

Sep 17, 2011; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles mascot Osceola, riding Renegade, celebrates a field goal against the Oklahoma Sooners in the first quarter of their football game at Doak Campbell Stadium. The Sooners beat the Seminoles 23-13. Mandatory Credit: Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

No. 3 – 1993 Orange Bowl (Florida State 27 Nebraska 14)

For the first time in a dozen seasons, the Seminoles were playing in the marquee bowl game as they took on the champs of what was once known as the Big Eight Conference. While it was the third time in six seasons these teams had met in a bowl game, this one was pretty much over before the game had even started.

FSU football jumped out to a 20-point lead before the Cornhuskers got their first points, later adding a touchdown in the third quarter. The ironic part is that the game could have been worse had there not been a massive rain storm that went through Downtown Miami and the original Orange Bowl Stadium – forcing the ‘Noles to run the ball more and abandon their fast paced offense while getting their first ever Orange Bowl win.

Oct 26, 2013; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Former Florida State Seminoles head coach Bobby Bowden is honored before the game against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at Doak Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

No. 2 – 1996 Orange Bowl (Florida State 31 Notre Dame 26)

When you are a fan of FSU football, the two teams you despise the most are clearly Miami and Florida. The folks from South Bend might be a close number three for many for a variety of reasons. In the mid 1990’s, the teams met twice and split those games – with this meeting in what was the final scheduled Orange Bowl game in its namesake stadium being the tiebreaker.

It looked like the Fighting Irish were going to get the victory with a 12-point lead in the fourth quarter. That was before Andre Cooper caught his third touchdown of the game from Danny Kanell – which went along with a Kanell touchdown pass to E.G. Green – to go along with a late safety and a five point win over that ugly little leprechaun, Lou Holtz, and his Notre Dame team.

No. 1 – 1994 Orange Bowl (Florida State 18 Nebraska 16)

After coming so close in previous seasons, the 1993 campaign was finally the Seminoles’ chance to bring home the first national title in program history. After getting back into the title game late in the season, FSU football was a huge favorite over an undefeated Cornhuskers team they had beaten easily the season before in the same game.

Someone forgot to tell Nebraska that, as they had a lead at the half and took a one-point lead with minutes left in the game. A Scott Bentley field goal would give FSU the lead before the Cornhuskers had one final chance – watching a 45 yard kick go wide left and the Seminoles were finally something that could not be take away: national champions of college football.

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