Today, we’re going to go a little retrospective for the FSU preview, which I realize sounds counter-intuitive. Paul Johnson currently holds a 2-2 record against Florida State since his hire in 2008. The total point difference between all 4 games combined is only 16 points. No matter how good or bad the Georgia Tech teams have been, or how much the ‘Noles were favored by, it has always been a close and exciting game. Let’s take a quick look back.
Despite the game being on November 1, it was hot that day. Two friends had driven up from Tallahassee the previous day for the game. We stole our way into the north student section, despite the garnet color of their attire. We were next to the band. After teaching them the fight song, they agreed to sing along only if they could substitute in “to hell with Florida.” We polled the people around us. Everyone agreed that was acceptable.
With the game into its final minutes, FSU was down by 3. I remember reaching a previously unknown level of frustration as Christian Ponder marched FSU down the field.
How are we getting no pressure on the quarterback? How was the receiver that wide open? Seriously? Y’all are going to let the running back go 15 yards untouched like that with the game on the line?
Tech had not beaten The Seminoles in what seemed like decades, as we were surely going to lose this one. However, a fateful handoff at the goaline and a helmet to the football sealed the game for the Jackets. A recovered fumble in the endzone – it was a miracle.
We were in the opposite endzone of the fumble and were all squinting trying to see who recovered it. When the fumble recovery was signaled in our favor, I thought the stadium exploded around me. In the midst of high-fiving and hugging strangers, I saw my Tallahassee friends frozen into surrender cobras, not believing their eyes. For a split second, I felt a tinge of guilt. It quickly passed, and I kept celebrating… such is life.
After a dismal start to the season for the “Noles, and much controversy surrounding Bobby Bowden’s future with the program, Georgia Tech went to Tallahassee to face a 2-3 FSU squad that had dropped its previous 2 games. FSU didn’t run out of the tunnel this game. They walked out of it, arm-in-arm with their faltering, legendary head coach. The same FSU friends from the previous year said they had never seen that before.
In a weird game that featured a 90-minute lightning delay and offensive fireworks from both sides in the first half, Bobby Bowden expressed his confusion with the Yellow Jacket offense during the halftime break.
Georgia Tech would go onto win by 5 and win the ACC Championship game against Clemson that year. Bobby Bowden was fired shortly after to make way for his successor, Jimbo Fisher.
This was the first of Paul Johnson’s postseason meetings with the ‘Noles. An underwhelming Georgia Tech, for all intensive purposes, backed into the game with a 6-6 record due to NCAA infractions restricting postseason eligibility to both Miami and UNC. FSU was clearly the superior team on the field and out-played the Jackets for most of the game. However, the Tech defense stiffened, and the offense chipped away at the Seminole lead with a succession of field goals. It became a single-score game.
I was a touring musician at this time, and I remember distinctly being called to go on stage in Nashville right as Tevin Washington and the offense took over late in the 4th, down by 5 points. We would be a few minutes late hitting the stage.
Tech even completed a couple passes to start threatening the Seminole lead.
Oh my gosh. Is the option offense with a quarterback who looks like he’s heaving a refrigerator down field with every throw about to pull this off?
He was not. An FSU corner would make an incredible, tipped-ball interception to seal the game (and probably the conference’s dignity) for the Noles. FSU would go onto eviscerate NIU in the Orange Bowl in another game featuring a team who shouldn’t be there. I took the stage with a shrug.
There was a great FTRS tailgate for this game. Were you there? You missed out.
In the most recent meeting of the two teams, Georgia Tech came in on fire after upset wins over Clemson and Georgia, and boasting a 10-2 regular season record. FSU was riding the longest win streak in the nation, which had coincidentally started in that 2012 game against the Yellow Jackets.
It was dark and rainy, with blustery winds all day. The rain cleared right before kickoff, but the firework smoke did not. The already Soviet, Cold War architecture of a stadium only provided more of an accent to the apocalyptic looking weather when filled with lingering smoke.
After trading blows with FSU and their Heisman-winning, largely NFL-bound team, the Jackets would succumb to a two-point loss. This loss was different, though. I remember not feeling upset when I left the stadium. I remember being proud of how hard Tech had played. In fact, it would be the hardest I’ve ever seen a Tech team play until the Orange Bowl a month later. I felt somehow proud of that loss and wasn’t upset about it. Tech deserved to be there and played their hearts out on national television to a 2-point loss to the defending National Champions. I’ll take it.
So, let’s get to the preview part, shall we?
I say all of this not to be reminiscent, but to point out how good this series of games has been during Paul Johnson’s tenure. There are a lot of games I don’t remember who I was watching it with, where I was, or any details about the game. I remember all of that with these last four FSU games. Maybe it’s because these FSU teams have largely been very good teams. Maybe it’s because I was there in person for 2 of them. Maybe it’s because some of my dear friends are FSU alum and fans, and they talk a little too much trash. Or maybe it’s because these teams have provided games and moments so huge that they’re among the first that come to mind when I think of Georgia Tech football over the last few years.
FSU lost an incredible amount of players to the NFL and graduation last year. They only return 4 starters on offense. This will comparatively be a rebuilding year for them. They’re replacing their NFL talent with more guys who will soon be following in their paths a couple years down the road. Just because the 2015 ‘Noles lack the experience and star power of the previous couple years, doesn’t mean they won’t be contenders on the conference or national level.
If you would like to read a more in depth preview of their team than I could ever muster, I would send you here to Bill C,’s incredibly in-depth write up. He’s got all the info on whom they lost, what they’re going to do without Famous Jameis, and whom they’re returning…. Which is still all 5 star recruits who will be very good… probably. They still have to replace their whole offensive line and quarterback, along with most of the notable names on defense.
I realize this isn’t the traditional opponent preview, but I think it serves its purpose; which is to help you remember that games between these teams have been so memorable that they’ve been logged into my mind and most of those that watched them. This coming one will probably do the same.
Also, FSU loves to spell.
So here’s your official preview: the last 4 games have been determined by 16 total points and even featured one of the wildest plays I’ve ever seen.
Here’s what you need to know from us, over here at FTRS: FSU will still be very good. This has potential to be the best Georgia Tech team in years. This will probably be a very good game. The last four meetings between these two teams have been borderline epic games, which I’m sure any Tech fan of the last few years remembers off the top of their heads, too. It’s at home. It’s the white-out. It’s homecoming. It will probably be a night game. Bobby Dodd is going to be loud. You should be there.