Photo courtesy of Garnet and Great/Florida State football archivist
Just four weeks separate us from the start of the 2022 season. As we count those days down, we’ll be working on a series with some crazy stats or bizarre stories many may be unaware of.
Some of these may never be replicated. Today’s piece focuses on a bitter rivalry in the Sunshine State.
For more than the first 40 years of legendary head coach Bobby Bowden’s career, he never started a freshman quarterback to open the season. That changed in 2001. Following an injury to future Pro Bowl wide receiver Anquan Boldin, California native and redshirt freshman Chris Rix got the nod.
As quarterback of the Seminoles, Rix was a tremendous athlete. He was 2-1 as a starter against rival Florida and was part of two ACC championship teams.
The biggest knock? His failure to beat Miami.
Because of that failure, Rix has become a legend in Coral Gables for all the wrong reasons.
Crazy Stat: Chris Rix is the only FBS starting quarterback to lose to the same team five times
2001: Miami 49, Florida State 27
2002: Miami 28, Florida State 27
2003: Miami 22, Florida State 14
2003: Miami 16, Florida State 14 (Orange Bowl)
2004: Miami 16, Florida State 10 (Overtime)
Let’s be clear: football is a team sport. The fault of a loss or credit for a victory doesn’t come on the shoulders of one player. While the quarterback contributes a lot to the game, these defeats were far from solely Rix’s fault.
Take for instance 2001 — he couldn’t help his redshirt freshman year timed up with facing arguably the greatest team ever. In 2002, Rix didn’t light up the stat sheet, but it was the lone game in the series he didn’t throw an interception. Florida State would lose that year on last-second field goal sailing wide left after the defense let a 13-point lead slip away.
In the Orange Bowl at the end of the 2003 season, he didn’t light up the stat sheet either, but FSU missed a go-ahead field goal again late in the game. Again, the Seminoles let a double-digit lead slip away.
Some of this was just bad luck. Rix also happened to be playing against some of the most talented teams in Miami history.
The 2003 regular season game will be remembered for a defensive battle in the rain with big hits, but in the end, Miami safety Sean Taylor was the best player on the field. It should be mentioned that Rix was also on the 2000 FSU team as a redshirted player. FSU lost that one too on a missed kick, making Rix part of a six-game losing streak to Miami.
Rix had his highlights at Florida State, but against Miami, it was horror. Following Rix’s departure, injury forced Bowden to open the 2005 season with another freshman at quarterback named Drew Weatherford.
His first start? A 10-7 win over Miami to snap the aforementioned six-game skid.