The Daily Nole

On My Mind Monday: What Were FSU Football’s Best Seasons After Losing Its Opener?

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The 2019 season didn’t start the way that Florida State fans had hoped.

On Saturday, the Seminoles watched Boise State score the game’s final 23 points in a 36-31 defeat as FSU has now dropped three straight openers for the first time since doing so from 1974 to 1976. Florida State will look to get on track Saturday as it hosts Louisiana-Monroe before beginning ACC play at Virginia.

The heartbreaking performance in Week 1 led one to wonder what the best seasons were for FSU after beginning the year with a loss. Below are the five best seasons for the garnet and gold after beginning 0-1:

5. 1954

Opener: Lost to Georgia, 14-0
Finish: 8-4, lost to Texas Western (now UTEP) in Sun Bowl, 47-20
Key Players: Harry Massey, QB; Lee Corso, RB/DB; Tom Feamster, WR/DB
Overview: In 1954, Florida State was shut out in its first two games by Georgia and Abilene Christian, but finished the regular season strong. The Seminoles won eight of the next nine games, which included victories over Louisville, NC State and a thriller over Southern Mississippi (then Mississippi Southern). The only blemish before falling to Texas Western in the Sun Bowl was another shutout loss — this one 33-0 — to Auburn. The eight wins in 1954 tied a school-record at the time and would be the most in six years under head coach Tom Nugent.

4. 1967

Opener: Lost at Houston, 33-13
Finish: 7-2-2, No. 15 in UPI Poll, tied Penn State in Gator Bowl, 17-17
Key Players: Kim Hammond, QB; Ron Sellers, WR; Dale McCullers, LB
Overview: The highlight of the first month of the 1967 season was playing No. 2 Alabama to a 37-37 tie in Birmingham as the Seminoles would not score a victory until October. After starting 0-2-1 with losses to Houston and NC State, a 19-18 thriller open Texas A&M prompted FSU to reel off seven straight victories to close the regular season, capped with a 21-16 road win over No. 18 Florida — its first ever in Gainesville. In Jacksonville, the Seminoles rallied from 17 points down at halftime to play Penn State to a 17-17 tie in the Gator Bowl.

3. 2004

Opener: Lost at Miami in overtime, 16-10
Finish: 9-3, No. 14 in USA Today Coaches Poll, defeated West Virginia in Gator Bowl, 30-18
Key Players: Leon Washington, RB; A.J. Nicholson, LB; Antonio Cromartie, CB
Overview: The 2004 season ended in heartbreaking fashion as Florida State let a 10-point fourth-quarter lead slip away in an overtime loss to Miami — its sixth straight in the series. Despite an injury to starting quarterback Chris Rix in Week 3, the Seminoles would rally to win their next six games, which included a 36-3 thrashing of No. 6 Virginia, before suffering a road loss at Maryland and falling to Florida at home to close the regular season.

2. 1989

Opener: Lost to Southern Mississippi in Jacksonville, 30-26
Finish: 10-2, No. 2 in USA Today Coaches Poll, defeated Nebraska in Fiesta Bowl, 41-17
Key Players: Peter Tom Willis, QB; Kirk Carruthers, LB; Leroy Butler, S
Overview: The 1989 campaign began in unthinkable fashion for FSU as the Seminoles were stunned by Southern Mississippi and a quarterback named Brett Favre in Jacksonville, 30-26. FSU would fall to 0-2 after getting beat by Clemson in its home opener, 34-23. From there, the Seminoles would win their final 10 games, including a 24-10 home victory over eventual national champion Miami to go with wins over ranked LSU, Syracuse and Auburn teams. FSU capped the season with a 41-17 thrashing of No. 6 Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl.

1. 1988

Opener: Lost at Miami, 31-0
Finish: 11-1, No. 3 in AP Poll, defeated Auburn in Sugar Bowl, 13-7
Key Players: Terry Anthony, WR; Deion Sanders, CB; Dedrick Dodge, S
Overview: The 1988 season began with a 31-0 thrashing at the hand of rival Miami for Florida State, but that would be the lone blemish for the Seminoles that year. After giving up 31 points to the reigning national champions, FSU yielded less than 13 points per game the remainder of the season. Notable wins during the year were the “puntrooskie” game to beat No. 3 Clemson on the road, 24-21, a 59-0 shutout of No. 15 South Carolina and a 52-17 beatdown of rival Florida. Cornerback and Jim Thorpe Award winner Deion Sanders’ interception in the end zone sealed a 13-7 win over Auburn in the Sugar Bowl to cap the season.

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson. Like The Daily Nole on Facebook. To pitch an idea, author a post or to learn more about The Daily Nole, email Mike Ferguson at

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