Photo courtesy of Garnet and Great/FSU archivist
Before there was Bobby Bowden, Bill Peterson had begun to bring Florida State to national respectability as a football program.
In 11 years as FSU head coach, Peterson led the Seminoles to six wins and three ties against ranked opponents. The highest UPI-ranked opponent that FSU defeated under Peterson went down on this day 55 years ago. Florida State knocked off No. 5 Georgia, 10-3.
Setting the Stage
After finishing ranked for the first time in 1964, FSU was just 1-2 as it arrived at Doak Campbell Stadium on Oct. 16, 1965. The year prior, the Seminoles had defeated Kentucky, who was ranked No. 5 in the AP Poll and No. 7 in the UPI.
Under second-year head coach Vince Dooley, Georgia was 4-0 and had already defeated two top-10 opponents. After opening the season with an 18-17 win over fifth-ranked Alabama, the Bulldogs were coming off a 15-7 win over No. 7 Michigan. Through three quarters, Georgia appeared on the verge of staying undefeated.
Through three quarters, all either team could muster was a field goal. Georgia took a 3-0 lead into the final quarter, but FSU was knocking on the door.
Late in the third, the Seminoles faced a key 4th-and-7. Rather than send out Pete Roberts for a long field goal attempt, Peterson kept his offense on the field. On what would be the final play of the third quarter, quarterback Ed Pritchett delivered a strike to T.K. Wetherell to set FSU up at the Georgia 20-yard-line.
On the first play of the final period, FSU went ahead for good. Bill Moremen took the sweep before bulling his way into the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown.
Following a defensive stop, FSU put together a time consuming drive that ended in a John Hosack punt, pinning Georgia deep. After another stop by the Seminoles, Roberts extended the lead to seven on a 32-yard field goal with 1:32 left. Down to its last chance, Georgia marched to near midfield, but the Seminoles forced a turnover on downs to preserve the victory.
The Seminoles dominated the game, more than doubling Georgia’s offensive output. FSU finished with 282 total yards to 134 for the Bulldogs, but 116 yards in penalties kept the Seminoles from taking the lead sooner. Wayne Giardino led FSU with 74 yards rushing.
Despite the victory, the 1965 season would be nothing special for FSU. The Seminoles would finish just 4-5-1.
Georgia also struggled to close the year. The Bulldogs dropped four of their final six games to finish 6-4.
The Seminoles would tie No. 2 Alabama in 1967, but it would be 15 years later before FSU would beat another top-5 team. Florida State’s first win over a UPI top-5 program came on this day 55 years ago.