Unfortunately for Florida State, its history with Miami has been defined by missed kicks. Misses to the right in the final seconds would cost the Seminoles against their rivals in 1991, 1992 and 2000.
On this day 20 years ago, FSU’s fortunes changed — sort of. The decisive kick this time sailed left as the No. 1 Hurricanes completed the rally to win, 28-27.
Setting the Stage
Miami was looking for its third straight win over FSU as it arrived at the Orange Bowl on Oct. 12, 2002. The reigning national champion, Miami was riding a 27-game winning streak and was 5-0 for the season. The year prior, the Hurricanes became the first team to beat FSU in Tallahassee in a decade.
At 5-1, the Seminoles were ranked No. 9. FSU was a healthy underdog for the contest, but for 60 minutes, it gave the Hurricanes all they wanted.
Miami scored on its opening drive to take an early 7-0 lead, but FSU proved up to the challenge. The Seminoles answered with 17 straight points and took their biggest lead of the game early in the fourth quarter when Greg Jones scored from 11 yards out.
Down 27-14, Miami stayed composed. After an exchange of punts, the Hurricanes answered with a 7-play, 70-yard drive that was capped with Ken Dorsey’s touchdown pass to Kevin Beard.
FSU rushed for nearly 300 yards on the day with Jones leading the way with 189 yards. The Miami ground attack was largely kept in check. When it mattered most, however, All-American running back Willis McGahee made a play.
Following an FSU punt, McGahee took a short pass from Dorsey 68 yards into the red zone. Jason Geathers carried it 11 yards for the score on the very next play.
For the first time since early in the second quarter, Miami had the lead, 28-27. Following a 3-yard punt from Miami’s Freddie Capshaw, FSU would get one last chance near midfield.
While Dorsey passed for 362 yards, FSU’s Chris Rix was just 8-for-19 passing for 83 yards. On the final drive, however, Rix twice hit Talman Gardner for first downs to move the Seminoles into field goal range. With just a second left, Xavier Beitia came on to try a 43-yard field goal to win it.
To that point, Beitia was 2-for-2 with makes of 45 and 42 yards. On the game’s decisive kick, however, it sailed left.
Once again, a missed kick propelled Miami to victory over the Seminoles.
FSU would go on to win the ACC in 2002 for the 10th time in 11 years, but finished just 9-5 — its most losses since 1981. The Seminoles’ losing streak against Miami would reach six before a mishandled snap on a game-tying field goal went FSU’s way in 2005.
As for Miami, its winning streak would reach 34 games before falling to Ohio State in controversial fashion in the Fiesta Bowl for the national championship. The Hurricanes, however, did complete a second straight perfect regular season. Their closest game came down to a missed kick against a rival on this day two decades ago.
Mike Ferguson is the managing editor for Fifth Quarter. Be sure to follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeWFerguson. Follow all of Mike’s work by liking his Facebook page.