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5 milestone Florida State victories under Bobby Bowden

Legendary coach led Seminoles to 12 ACC championships, 2 national titles
Florida State Seminoles head coach Bobby Bowden on sideline at 2005 ACC Championship game
Posted at 12:42 PM, Aug 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-08 12:44:12-04

With the news of the death of legendary Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden, takes a look back at five milestone victories during the College Football Hall of Fame coach's 34 seasons.

No. 22 FSU (7-4) 27, No. 5 Virginia Tech (10-1) 22
Dec. 3, 2005
ACC Championship | Alltell Stadium
Jacksonville, Fla.

Florida State Seminoles head coach Bobby Bowden and Virginia Tech Hokies head coach Frank Beamer after 2005 ACC Championship game
Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden, left, is congratulated by Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer after the Seminoles' 27-22 win in the ACC Championship game Saturday, Dec. 3, 2005, at Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla.

Bowden's 12th and final Atlantic Coast Conference championship may have been the best of them all, considering the way it was won. A newly expanded 12-team ACC meant the conference would stage a championship game for the first time. The Hokies were a top-five team and quickly establishing themselves as the new team to beat in the ACC, having won the conference in their inaugural season in 2004. Virginia Tech won the Coastal Division, while the Seminoles, who entered the game on a three-game losing streak, found themselves representing the Atlantic Division by virtue of their tiebreaker over newcomer Boston College. Although the Hokies were double-digit favorites, the Seminoles showed why it's best never to underestimate a Bowden-coached team, breaking a 3-3 halftime tie by outscoring Virginia Tech 24-0 in the third quarter. The third-quarter surge began on special teams, courtesy of Willie Reid's 83-yard punt return for a touchdown. Virginia Tech scored the final 19 points of the game in the final quarter, but the damage had already been done. Out of timeouts, the Hokies failed to recover an onside kick, allowing the Seminoles to run out the clock. The Seminoles improved to 12-0 against Virginia Tech under Bowden, who once more hoisted the ACC championship trophy.

No. 19 FSU (9-2) 40, Texas Tech (7-4) 17
Dec. 23, 1977
Tangerine Bowl | Orlando Stadium
Orlando, Fla.

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Bowden speaks to WFSU in December 1977

From the archives: Bobby Bowden speaks to WFSU in December 1977

Prior to Bowden's arrival at Florida State, the Seminoles had been to just eight bowl games with a 2-5-1 record to show for it. The previous bowl in which FSU had participated was the inaugural Fiesta Bowl in 1971 and an invitation to Orlando's Tangerine Bowl came mostly on behalf of its 37-9 victory over Florida to conclude the regular season. Bowden's first bowl game at FSU drew regional appeal and the Seminoles didn't disappoint. FSU never trailed and took the lead on Larry Key's 93-yard kickoff return in the second quarter, opening up the contest for the Seminoles. Quarterbacks Jimmy Jordan and Wally Woodham combined to ignite the two-headed offense, but it was Jordan who stole the show. His 18 of 25 passing attempts for 311 yards and two touchdowns earned him MVP honors. The victory also gave FSU the distinction of becoming the first school in the state to win 10 or more games in a season.

FSU (0-3) 20, Kansas State (1-2) 10
Oct. 2, 1976
Doak S. Campbell Stadium
Tallahassee, Fla.

West Virginia Mountaineers head coach Bobby Bowden photographed days before leaving for Florida State Seminoles in 1976
West Virginia head coach Bobby Bowden is shown in this Jan. 6, 1976, photo in Morgantown, W.Va., just days before he left for Florida State.

Florida State had won just four games in the previous three seasons before Bowden arrived in 1976 and expectations were high for a coach who had guided West Virginia to a 9-3 season and Peach Bowl victory against North Carolina State a year earlier. FSU was on the brink of discontinuing its football program when athletic director John Bridgers took a chance in hiring Bowden for a base salary of $37,500. At first it seemed as though Bridgers had made a mistake when FSU suffered losses through its first three games at Memphis State, Miami and Oklahoma. But when Florida State won its home opener against Kansas State, fans got a glimpse of just how great a hire Bowden would become. FSU fell behind 10-0 before reeling off 20 unanswered points to pick up victory No. 1 of the Bowden era. Bowden finished the season with four more wins to post a 5-6 record in his first season at the helm -- his only losing season. The victory over the Wildcats was the first at home since the Seminoles beat Utah State more than a year earlier on Sept. 20, 1975.

No. 13 FSU (2-0) 31, Miami (0-1) 21
Sept. 23, 1978
Miami Orange Bowl

Bobby Bowden black and white photo in suit
Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden wears a suit and tie for this university photo taken in 1977.

Bowden notched his first victory against rival Miami in an error-ridden game at the Orange Bowl. The Seminoles twice came from behind in the first half to outscore Miami 17-7 en route to a 31-21 win. The Hurricanes committed seven turnovers (three interceptions, three lost fumbles and a blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown) that proved to be the difference in the game. The Seminoles broke a 14-14 tie in the third quarter thanks to quarterback Wally Woodham's fourth-and-one goal-line score. He later found Mark Lyles on a fourth-down swing pass and the fullback ran 22 yards along the sideline to seal the victory with a little more than a minute remaining. The game also featured a young Miami quarterback named Mark Richt, who would later serve as Bowden's longtime assistant coach throughout FSU's dynasty era.

No. 19 FSU (8-2) 37, Florida (6-3-1) 9
Dec. 3, 1977
Florida Field
Gainesville, Fla.

Florida State Seminoles head coach Bobby Bowden carried off field after 37-9 victory at Florida Gators in 1977
Flordia State head coach Bobby Bowden is carried off the field on the shoulders of defensive end Willie Jones (88) and defensive tackle Ron Simmons (50) after the Seminoles defeated the Florida Gators, Dec. 3, 1977, in Gainesville, Fla.

Bowden began to cement his legacy with a win against Florida in his first trip to Gainesville. The Seminoles, who were coming off a loss at San Diego State, snapped a nine-game losing streak to Florida with a decisive 37-9 victory -- only their third in the history of the rivalry and second in Gainesville. FSU used a two-headed quarterback threat to defeat the Gators through the air, passing for 344 yards while limiting Florida to 59 passing yards. Kurt Unglaub caught a 35-yard touchdown from starter Wally Woodham and Roger Overby caught three more touchdowns from backup Jimmy Jordan. Larry Key also carried the ball 20 times for 143 yards, becoming the first FSU running back to gain 1,000 or more yards in a season. FSU's defense held the Gators without a touchdown in the regular season for the first time since 1973. Florida scored all nine points in the second quarter. Key's performance against the Gators resulted in FSU fans lining Tennessee Street and dangling their keys in the air as the team returned to Tallahassee.