Florida State’s emotional victory over Florida on Friday night at Doak Campbell Stadium set off a raucous celebration as fans stormed the field.
The scene capped an impressive turnaround — and an unforgettable season — for the football program under third-year coach Mike Norvell.
‘I was so proud of the team and staff, the atmosphere was electric and it felt like the old FSU vs. UF games,’ said former FSU and NFL tailback Sammie Smith, who attended his first home game in more than seven years.
Trey Benson’s 17-yard touchdown run with 4:06 left lifted No. 16 FSU to a 45-38 win over Florida. The Gators drove the field in the final minutes but Anthony Richardson’s fourth-down pass under pressure over the middle fell incomplete with 39 seconds to go.
It marked FSU’s first victory over the Gators since 2017, and the first time it has swept UF and Miami in the same year in six seasons. The Seminoles (9-3) are bowl eligible for the first time since 2019 and will post their first winning season since 2017.
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The FSU-UF showdown entertained the sold-out crowd of 79,560 and television audience on ABC. It was the highest scoring game in the rivalry’s history that dates to 1958.
The teams combined for 957 total yards — 497 by FSU.
Benson had 111 yards rushing and three touchdowns, and quarterback Jordan Travis ran for 83 yards and two touchdowns. He also completed 13 of 30 passes for 270 yards.
This marked the eighth time this season FSU surpassed 35 points in a game. The Seminoles also extended their winning streak to five games, the team’s longest since
ending 2016 with five consecutive wins.
Norvell, who was 8-13 in his first two seasons at FSU, is further proving his worth. He is now 20-6 in the month of November as a head coach, including 4-0 this year.
Norvell said building trust is an important part of the process.
‘Being able to have that ownership and be honest with your players, to be able to develop trust,’ Norvell said after Friday’s win.
‘I said the very first day that I got here, I told the players I’m never going to ask them to trust me, all right? All I ask for is an opportunity to prove that I’m trustworthy. You have to do that through actions. They have to see it. It can’t be one day here, the next day there. You have to be able to go through that process with them.’
FSU rushed for 227 yards, the team’s seventh consecutive game crossing the 200-yard barrier. That is the longest streak in the country this season, and the longest for FSU since 1987 — Smith’s redshirt sophomore season at FSU when he had 1,230 rushing yards.
‘I thought Benson was superb and ran with great desire,’ Smith said. ‘Also, Jordan Travis is a difference maker. They are a playoff contender if he returns next season.’
Reach Jim Henry at firstname.lastname@example.org.