Over the last 33 seasons, the Clemson Tigers and Florida State Seminoles have combined to win 24 ACC championships. This includes one of the two programs winning each of the last eight conference titles. Even with all of the changes to the league in the past 15 years, this is still the premiere match-up year in and year out. Clemson has won the last four conference titles, and have lost only two games to ACC opponents over that period. Some of the Tigers top victories in program history have come in big time match-ups with Florida State.
The pair will meet this Saturday in Clemson, the 33rd contest between them. The Seminoles lead the all-time series 20-12. The Tigers have won nine of the last fourteen in this ACC showdown.
Clemson Tigers Top Victories over Florida State
This series started in 1970 as a non-conference game. The two teams would play five times over the next two decades before the Seminoles joined the ACC. Clemson defeated Florida State for the first time in their third meeting, a 15-12 win in Tallahassee. With these two programs seemingly always near the top of the conference, almost every match-up has been of some importance. Here is a look at the Tigers top victories in the series.
Clemson Tigers 59 – Florida State Seminoles 10 (10-27-18 @ Tallahassee, Fl)
Last season’s contest was never really much of one. It makes the list not because of the quality of the game, but how it showcased the gap between where these two programs currently stand. The Tigers got off to a slow start, but exploded in the second quarter. They put up 28 points before the half and never looked back. Trevor Lawrence threw for 314 yards and four touchdowns. Tee Higgins and Amari Rodgers each caught two of those scores. The Clemson defense was dominant, allowing just 247 total yards and forcing two turnovers. By midway through the third quarter, FSU’s stadium was mostly empty, and the Dabo Swinney’s team cruised to a blowout win.
Clemson Tigers 35 – Florida State Seminoles 30 (09-24-2011 @ Clemson, SC)
One of the most monumental of the Tigers top victories in this rivalry came in 2011. Tajh Boyd had a huge day with 344 yards passing, most of which went to the explosive Sammy Watkins. Clemson took an early 14-3, and was able to respond every time the Seminoles closed the gap. Eleven Florida State penalties would prove costly, and the Tigers put up 443 yards of offense on the day. A 62 yard scoring connection between Boyd and Watkins sealed the deal. This win gave Tigers an early season edge in the ACC’s Atlantic Division, and would propel them to their first conference title since 1991.
Clemson Tigers 34 – Florida State Seminoles 23 (09-09-1989 @ Tallahassee, Fl)
Just a year removed from falling victim to the “puntrooski“, Clemson exacted revenge on Bobby Bowden’s team with a big road win. Thanks to two Terry Allen touchdown runs and a Wayne Simmons pick six, the Tigers shocked the FSU crowd. They took a commanding 21-0 lead into halftime. After the game, coach Bowden opened his press conference by simply saying, “That was a good whoopin.”. Allen was named ACC Player of the Week for his 130 performance. Simmons added six tackles and a sack to his defensive score. The Seminoles scored late to make the score look respectable, but Danny Ford’s team controlled things from start to finish.
Clemson Tigers 26 – Florida State Seminoles 10 (11-08-2003 @ Clemson, SC)
At the time, this result was one of the Tigers top victories in school history over any opponent. It was their first win over the Seminoles in a conference game, it ended an 11 game losing streak in the series, and was the first time winning in Clemson Memorial Stadium. This game was also significant because it was Clemson’s first victory in the Bowden Bowl. After four straight defeats at the hands of his father, Tommy Bowden was finally able to guide his team to an upset over then number three Florida State. Aaron Hunt hit four field goals, and Charlie Whitehurst found Derrick Hamilton for a 58 yard touchdown late in the third quarter to finish off the Noles. The Clemson defense forced three turnovers and held FSU to just 11 yards rushing. Hamilton and Kevin Youngblood tore up the opposing secondary, combining for 203 yards on 10 catches.
Clemson Tigers 37 – Florida State Seminoles 34 (10-29-1=2016 @ Tallahassee, Fl)
This game was both as entertaining and meaningful a game as any of the Tigers’ top victories in this rivalry. Deshaun Watson led a fourth quarter comeback that ended with a 34 yard touchdown pass to Jordan Leggett with just over two minutes remaining. Watson totaled 430 yards of offense. He also became the first Clemson signal caller to defeat the Seminoles in consecutive games. Wayne Gallman had a solid night on the ground with two scores. Florida State tailback Dalvin Cook did all he could tallying 169 yards and four scores on the ground, but it wasn’t enough. The Tigers defensive line beat up on quarterback Deondre Francois and an over matched offensive line. They finished with ten tackles for a loss and six sacks. The night ended by stifling a Seminole drive, forcing them to turn the ball over on downs in the final seconds.
The top ranked Tigers would stumble the following week against Pittsburgh. However, they would rebound from that to win the ACC, make the College Football Playoff, and defeat Alabama for their first National Title since 1980.