GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Six years without a victory over an archrival seems like an eternity to a college football coach, and Florida State's Bobby Bowden felt the added pressure of being a heavy favorite against Florida.
"I think they would have had the real nooses up this time in Tallahassee--pure rope if we'd lost this game," Bowden said.
But Florida State fans can put the rope away. Derek Schmidt kicked four field goals, and Dayne Williams scored twice on one-yard runs as the third-ranked Seminoles defeated the Gators, 28-14, Saturday.
"The hardest thing about the whole thing was breaking the drought," said Bowden, whose team hadn't beaten Florida since 1980. "I've never had a psychological thing, or whatever it is, attached to a series in my life. Their advantage stood at six in a row, and it was getting away from us."
The victory was Bowden's 100th as coach at Florida State, and the Seminoles, 10-1 heading into the Fiesta Bowl against Nebraska, stayed in the race for the national championship before a crowd of 74,613 at Florida Field.
The lone blemish on Florida State's record is a 26-25 loss to second-ranked Miami, which will play top-ranked Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl. Bowden's record as Florida State's coach is 100-37-3 in 12 seasons, including a 5-7 mark against Florida.
Schmidt, the NCAA's all-time leading scorer in Division I who had given the Seminoles a 3-0 lead with a 26-yard kick, added field goals of 23, 53 and 37 yards as Florida State fought back from a 14-3 deficit. Williams' first touchdown capped a 41-yard drive and put the Seminoles ahead, 18-14, with 4:50 remaining in the third quarter.
Edgar Bennett's two-point conversion run made it 20-14, and Danny McManus completed a two-point pass to Herb Gainer after Williams scored on another one-yard run with 10:36 left in the game.
Florida, which got 100 yards rushing from freshman Emmitt Smith, finished the regular season with a 6-5 record. The Gators will play UCLA in the Aloha Bowl on Christmas Day.
Smith, who carried 20 times, scored on runs of 5 and 4 yards within a 2:26 span of the first half as Florida took advantage of an interception and Huey Richardson's blocked punt to take a 14-3 lead five seconds into the second quarter.
Florida State took charge in the second quarter, though, abandoning the pass for a running game that produced 279 yards and two 100-yard runners. Sammie Smith finished with 116 yards in 17 carries, and backup tailback Dexter Carter gained 111 in 19 attempts.
Florida's Kerwin Bell needed only 79 passing yards to become the Southeastern Conference's all-time yardage leader. He surpassed John Reaves' record in the final minute, finishing with 12 completions in 20 attempts for 114 yards that left him with a career total of 7,585 yards.