The Daily Nole

55-Year Nole Anniversary: FSU Collects First-Ever Win Over Florida

Garnet and Great, FSU archivist

Getting Florida to agree to play Florida State wasn’t easy, but for the early parts of the series, things were lopsided. Through six meetings — all in Gainesville — all that the Seminoles could manage was a 1961 tie.

That all changed on this day 55 years ago.

FSU was 7-1-1 and ranked No. 12 in the UPI Poll as the Gators came to Tallahassee for the first time on Nov. 21, 1964. Florida was 6-2 with losses to Georgia and Alabama by a combined 10 points, but on that Saturday afternoon a Doak Campbell Stadium, it was no match for the Seminoles. FSU held its rivals to 244 yards and forced six turnovers in the 16-7 victory.

After a scoreless first quarter that saw Florida fumble on the goal line, the Seminoles drew first blood on what would be their only touchdown of the day. More than four minutes into the second quarter, FSU struck when quarterback Steve Tensi found Fred Biletnikoff for a 55-yard touchdown strike.

The bomb would serve as the only points of the first half, but Les Murdock added field goals of 24 and 34 yards to push the FSU lead to 13-0 early in the fourth quarter. The Gators would break the shutout with more than nine minutes to play on a 6-yard touchdown run by Jack Harper after he hauled in a long pass from quarterback Steve Spurrier. With the lead cut to 13-7, FSU had an answer.

Following a failed onside kick attempt by Florida, Tensi connected with Don Floyd on a 26-yard completion to move into field goal range. After stalling, Murdock’s 40-yard make with less than seven minutes to play made it a 2-score game once again.

Florida State held future Heisman Trophy winner Steve Spurrier and the Florida offense to less than 250 yards in 1964. (Garnet and Great, FSU archivist)

The Gators would move into FSU territory on each of their final two possessions, but FSU’s Winfred Bailey and Bill McDowell each came away with interceptions of Spurrier to seal the contest. The university that had been an all girls’ school less than two decades prior had handed the state’s flagship university their worst loss of the season.

Tensi would pass for 190 yards in the victory. Wayne Giardino and Phil Spooner combined for 143 yards rushing while Biletnikoff and Ford combined for 163 yards receiving in the win. Charles Casey had the best day for the Gators, catching nine passes for 129 yards.

It would be three years later before the Seminoles beat Florida again when they topped the Gators in Gainesville for the first time, 21-16. Florida would win the next nine after that, but over the last four-plus decades, the Seminoles have had the upper-hand. The first-ever win over the arch-rival Gators happened on this day five and a half decades ago.

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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