FSU's Top Road Victories: Clemson, 2013
In this series from our staff, we'll be taking a look at FSU football's top victories in hostile territory, better known in Tallahassee as "sod games." I couldn't think of a better place to start than one of the most dominating performances by the team with the spear on their helmets.
Prior to this 2013 top-five showdown, we had already seen Jameis Winston's arrival to the college football world against Pittsburgh, that pass from Winston to Kenny Shaw against Boston College, and a 63-0 victory over a top-25 Maryland team. The season had been going even better than the Seminole faithful could imagine, but they were about take on their toughest test yet-- right?
Clemson came into this season as the favorite to win the ACC and had National Championship aspirations. The Tigers had the best weapons in school history, an improved defense, and a senior Heisman hopeful at quarterback in Tahj Boyd. They opened the season with a victory over Georgia and by doing so they vaulted into the title picture discussion. This was finally the season that the Tigers would shed the term "Clemsoning" and grab the brass ring-- right?
It would be hard not to give credit to ESPN's marketing of this game, hyping it up as the biggest contest of the season. But also, a lot of credit goes to the environment inside Death Valley at night and the TV crew's ability to capture it for the viewing audience. All of these things I've mentioned so far are important factors in why this win is so massive.
The stage was set for two titans to clash and what we ended up with was more akin to someone being trapped inside a cage with a hungry bear. This also included the camera's catching Winston's famous "We ain't leaving without a victory" pregame speech.
When Jimbo Fisher and his team walked out of the tunnel, they oozed confidence like they knew something that we didn't (while also wearing what is in my opinion uniform perfection). While Clemson made its nine-mile bus ride around the stadium and ran down its hill, the 'Noles were just waiting.
A crowd that broke a decibel-level world record went pretty quiet early on in the game. The first play from scrimmage was a forced fumble by Lamarcus Joyner and just a few plays later Winston connected with future first-round pick Kelvin Benjamin for a touchdown. The rout was on from there.
The first half included a couple of Roberto Aguayo field goals and another Winston touchdown pass, but this time it was short pass underneath to the reliable Rashad Greene who took it 72 yards and let the Clemson student section have it once he reached the endzone. It also featured Mario Edwards Jr. on a scoop and score for the ages that had a very popular radio call from the local legend, Gene Deckerhoff. Who had a line about Edwards being the biggest No. 15 he had ever seen. Clemson managed to score a touchdown as the half came to a close but all the momentum and all the confidence was on the FSU sideline.
The second half-- oh that second half. It's essentially a Florida State highlight reel that has become the stuff of legend. Tight end Nick O'Leary (That's Jack Nic... well you know the rest) trucking defenders left and right and almost taking a pass for a 98-yard touchdown, only to be tripped up at the last second.
Another Rashad Greene touchdown and a Devonta Freeman touchdown would give the 'Noles their 51 points, the most ever scored by a visiting team at Clemson. A final score reminder was linebacker Reggie Northrup doing his best robot dance right into the camera as the 51-14 sat underneath. A clear sign that the game was over before it was actually over.
This win established that year's Florida State team as not only a serious national title contender, it made them the contender. It silenced any doubt about Winston's Heisman Trophy campaign and cemented him as the front runner. Not just the offense, but the defense made a statement as well. If you didn't know who Lamarcus Joyner, Telvin Smith, Timmy Jernigan, and Ronald Darby were before this game, you knew them now. This is the game that really established FSU as "back," and not in the way that Texas or Miami are back every year, either.
In a season full of memorable games and in a program full of big-time wins, this one really stands out. Since that time, we know the directions of the two programs and how different they've been, but on this night, the 'Noles ruled the college football world once again.