The Daily Nole

35-Year Nole Anniversary: FSU Wins at the Horseshoe

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When Florida State and Ohio State hooked up in Columbus on Oct. 3, 1981, there was no College Gameday on the scene. In fact, it was almost a forgone conclusion that the Buckeyes would win.

Ohio State entered the contest ranked seventh in the country while FSU was unranked after barely beating a bad Memphis team and getting hammered by Nebraska in the two games prior. What FSU was able to do on that Saturday afternoon in October however, surprised many and furthered head coach Bobby Bowden’s “King of the Road” reputation.

In what would turn into a shootout, the lead changed hands five times in the first half. Florida State took its first lead on a 35-yard blocked punt return for a touchdown in the first quarter and secured a 23-21 halftime advantage after Rick Stockstill found Tony Johnson from 13 yards out.

In the second half, the FSU defense led by Tommy Young and Larry Harris, who combined for 30 tackles, settled in. Stockstill’s second touchdown pass of the day — this one to Sam Childers — gave the Seminoles a 2-score lead. That lead would be extended to 15 late in the third quarter on a 3-yard touchdown run by Ricky Williams.

Williams was part of a balanced attack for the FSU offense, rushing for 81 yards on 15 carries. Michael Whiting finished with 90 yards rushing and 74 more receiving. Stockstill passed for 299 yards in the win with Dennis McKinnon leading the FSU receivers with 107 yards on five catches.

The offense was held scoreless for the fourth quarter, but Ohio State was able to score just once in a 36-27 FSU victory. The Seminoles would go on to win at Notre Dame and LSU later in the month, but finished the season just 6-5. That was the last time Florida State did not make a bowl.

Still, the victory at Ohio State went a long way in bringing FSU to national respectability. FSU won again at Ohio State the following season, 34-17. The teams have met just once since and that was in the Sugar Bowl at the end of the 1997 season.

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson

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