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October 13, 2013

Top five all-time Florida State-Clemson games

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Florida State and Clemson will renew their annual rivalry this Saturday night in what could be the most anticipated game of the series. Both teams are ranked in the top five and the winner will have a clear path to the ACC title game and will be in the thick of the national championship hunt.

But there have been several huge FSU-Clemson battles over the years and some even preceded the Seminoles' entrance into the ACC. Here's a rundown of the top five FSU victories in the history of the rivalry.

TigerIllustrated.com's Larry Williams gives the Clemson perspective on these five epic contests. Top Five Clemson wins in the series from TigerIllustrated.com

#1 The 'Puntrooskie' upsets the Tigers - Florida State 24, Clemson 21 - Sept. 17, 1988
The 1988 meeting was considered the first 'classic' between the Seminoles and Tigers and marked one of the most memorable games in college football history. At the time, both teams were ranked in the top 10 with FSU pulling out a close last-minute victory over the No. 3 ranked Tigers in Death Valley. The 'Noles' win was largely due to arguably the most famous play in Florida State football history.

The 'puntrooskie' was a 78-yard run on a fake punt and return by Leroy Butler. Butler's run set up a Richie Andrews' 19-yard field goal with 32 seconds left to give the 'Noles the victory. Butler wasn't the only future NFL great that provided a highlight. Deion Sanders had a 76-yard punt return for a touchdown which marked the only time in Clemson punter Chris Gardocki's career that a punt was returned for a touchdown. The other two FSU touchdowns came from Dayne Williams, who punched it in from one yard out, and Dexter Carter, who took a pass from Chip Ferguson 40 yards into the end zone. Clemson finished that season 10-2. Florida State finished that season 11-1 after winning 11 consecutive games following a loss to Miami in the season-opener.

Larry: As legend has it, Clemson's staff learned during the week that the Seminoles had a fake punt up their sleeve. But after coming up with the third-down stop, everyone on the sidelines was preoccupied with setting the Tigers up for the game-winning field goal. Danny Ford regretted not calling a timeout to compose himself and his team and inform them of a possible fake. Thing is, this particular fake was so brilliant because it was the fake of a fake. Even had the Tigers been ready for one, they might still have flowed to the initial action on the play. Clemson fans also still gnash their teeth over the dropped interception by linebacker Vince Taylor at FSU's 24-yard line a few moments before the Seminoles' punt team trotted on.
25th Anniversary of FSU "Puntrooskie"

#2 Bowden Bowl I - Florida State 17, Clemson 14 - Oct. 23, 1999
The first Bobby-Tommy Bowden Bowl came in 1999, a 17-14 victory for No. 1 Florida State at Clemson before a record crowd of 86,092. The 'Noles came back from a 14-3 deficit at the half thanks to a short touchdown run by Travis Minor, a two-point conversion from Chris Weinke to Dan Kendra, and a couple of field goals by Sebastian Janikowski.

The star of the game offensively was All-American wide receiver Peter Warrick. The game marked the controversial return of the star wide receiver who had previously been suspended for two games as a result of the discount scandal at Dillard's. In his return, the explosive wideout caught 11 passes for 121 yards to lead the Seminole offense. Janikowski made three-of-five field goals including a decisive 39-yarder with 5:26 left to break a 14-14 tie. In addition to the win marking the first victory in the Bowden Bowl, it gave Bobby Bowden career victory No. 300. That FSU team went on to win the national championship, and the 17 points and three-point victory margin, were the smallest for Florida State in their wire-to-wire No. 1 national championship run.

Larry: Clemson fans still wonder why Tommy Bowden elected to kick a 41-yard field goal late instead of going for it on fourth-and-short. Tommy said in the aftermath he probably should've gone for it. Tay Cody got a piece of Tony Lazzara's attempt to preserve the Seminoles' march to the title.

#3 Charlie Ward leads comeback in first FSU-Clemson ACC matchup - Florida State 24, Clemson 20 - Sept. 13, 1992
This game marked Florida State's first ever road game in the ACC and Charlie Ward's second career start. As was the case the last time FSU traveled to Clemson in 1988, it took some late heroics for the Seminoles to pull out the win over a ranked Clemson team. As he did in the his debut against Duke, Ward was erratic all night tossing several interceptions. As a result, No. 5 FSU was on the ropes late in the game until Ward showed off some of the abilities that would propel him win to a Heisman trophy the following season. With 5:26 left and the ball on FSU's 23-yard line, the junior quarterback systematically led the offense down the field hitting four different receivers on the drive. Kevin Knox reeled in a 9-yard touchdown catch with 2:08 left which proved to be the game winner.

Larry: Talk about two programs going in opposite directions. Clemson fans probably didn't fully realize it at the time, but they were descending into the muck of mediocrity at the same time Florida State cementing its status as a juggernaut. Ken Hatfield's team went on to finish 5-6 with losses to Georgia Tech, N.C. State, Wake Forest, Maryland and South Carolina. And this defeat to the Seminoles began an 11-game losing streak to Bobby Bowden's bunch.

#4 The Walk-Off: Dustin Hopkins hits game-winning field goal - Florida State 16, Clemson 13 - Nov. 13, 2010
In a game where FSU struggled greatly on both sides of the ball, sophomore quarterback EJ Manuel made his first start of 2010 for an injured Christian Ponder. Manuel, who led FSU in rushing with 71 yards, did his best work down the stretch first leading the offense to a go-ahead touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. With under a minute left he led another drive that set up Dustin Hopkins' game-winning field goal after Clemson tied the game 13-13. That game winner, a 55-yard kick right down the middle of the uprights, was the first walk-off winner in FSU history. Despite the 'Noles not putting forth their best performance, it was a gutsy effort by the entire team to keep the game close enough to allow Manuel, and eventually Hopkins, to pull out the victory.

Larry: Clemson walked away feeling it should have won the game, and hard to argue. But imagine what would be different now had the Tigers left the stadium victorious that night. If Clemson wins the Atlantic Division for the second year in a row, maybe Dabo Swinney doesn't get rid of Billy Napier as OC. That means there's no Chad Morris in the fold. So sometimes losses can be good in the long view of things.
Dustin Hopkins' 55-yard game-winning field goal

#5 Bowden Bowl II: Weinke to Minnis - Florida State 54, Clemson 7 - Nov. 4, 2000
Following the close game in 1999, No. 10 Clemson came into Bowden Bowl II against No. 4 Florida State hoping to upset the 'Noles in Doak Campbell. Those beliefs were quickly dashed as FSU romped the Tigers by a 54-7 score. Florida State racked up 771 yards of total offense, the most ever against the Tigers, including a record 521 yards through the air by quarterback Chris Weinke. Travis Minor accumulated 102 yards on the ground while Atrews Bell, Marvin 'Snoop' Minnis, and Javon Walker all had over 100 yards receiving. Back-up running back Davy Ford also had an 82 yard run in the game. The biggest highlight of the game came in the middle of the first quarter when the Seminole offense was backed up on the two-yard line when Weinke executed a perfect play-action pass over the top of the Clemson defense to Minnis for a 98-yard touchdown pass. That play broke the record for Florida State's longest touchdown pass.

Larry: The Tigers shot out to an 8-0 record and a No. 5 ranking in 2000, but they were a flawed team and that was evident in three losses over their final four games. Clemson fans were already looking ahead to the Top 5 showdown seven days before, and Georgia Tech entered Death Valley and dealt the Tigers a 31-28 gut punch. Florida State's curb-stomping exposed Tommy's team as paper Tigers in the context of elite status.
Chris Weinke's 98-yard touchdown pass to Marvin 'Snoop' Minnis

Top Five Clemson wins in the series from TigerIllustrated.com

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