Remember When: Wake Forest Defeated A Winless Florida State


There might be a few eyes (purposefully) watching the Florida State-Wake Forest game this weekend, given the sudden urgency and high stakes. The Seminoles started the season 0-2; a loss to Wake Forest would be a serious problem for them, as it would also mean an 0-2 start to ACC competition.

It’s tough when you lose a talented quarterback like Deondre Francois. I don’t think Florida State expected to be in this position.

Of course, it’s foolish to expect Florida State to go winless this season. They will win games and they should make a bowl game. I would hope so, at least. I hyped them up in the ACC Preview, after all.

Look at it this way, your season won’t be worse than it was 44 years ago.

Florida State has only had one season in their history as a program in which they didn’t win a single game. That happened in 1973, which was a couple coaches before Bobby Bowden showed up.

That 1973 Florida State team made quite the 180 turn. In ’71, the Seminoles went 8-4, playing in the Fiesta Bowl. The year after, they finished 7-4 but didn’t make a bowl game.

Meanwhile, the Demon Deacons came into the ’73 season having won just two games the prior year.

It’s weird to think that the game took place Sept. 15 season opener in 1973 would, in hindsight, be one of the few chances Wake Forest had to win a game that season.

Chuck Ramsey had a pair of field goals in the first half as Wake Forest jumped out to a 6-0 lead going into intermission.

The Seminoles offense struggled during the first half. As Tallahassee sports columnist Bill McGrotha pointed out, Florida State had just two first downs during that time.

Hodges Mitchell pushed the Noles to a 7-6 lead in the third quarter, thanks to a five-yard touchdown run.

The score would stay that way until late in the fourth quarter when Ramsey kicked a 41-yard game-winner with seconds remaining.

Wake Forest won without scoring a touchdown, 9-7. It was the Demon Deacons’ first victory over the Seminoles since 1959, and amazingly, was their only win all season. The only other game Wake didn’t lose on its way to a 1-9-1 record was a 7-7 barnburner against Duke.

The tie guaranteed Wake Forest a goose-egg in the ACC, since Florida State was an independent at that time.

For the Seminoles and head coach Larry Jones, they had their work cut out for them the rest of the season after losing in Winston-Salem. In their home opener the next week, Florida State lost 28-0 to Kansas.


How bad did that game go? Florida State was held to 17 rushing yards and turned the ball over eight times, ensuring the Seminoles their first time finishing on the wrong end of a shutout in eight years.

Florida State had an opportunity the following week to get a win against Miami, leading the Hurricanes 10-7 going into the fourth quarter.

Woody Thompson and the Hurricanes offense stepped up, scoring the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter to defeat the Seminoles, 14-10.

The last real opportunity for Florida State came against Memphis State on Oct. 20. The Seminoles took a 10-7 lead into halftime. However, a couple of field goals in the third quarter sealed a 13-10 Memphis State win.

Florida State lost each of its remaining games by double-digits, including a 52-12 home finale against South Carolina. It didn’t go much better for the Seminoles against the rival Florida Gators.

In that final game, Florida won 49-0. Jones was out as coach after the season, replaced by Darrell Mudra, who didn’t fare much better and also liked to coach from the press box.

Eventually, Bowden came around and built a winning program.

Meanwhile, the ’73 season was the last time Florida State and Wake Forest would play each other for a long time, taking a 19-year hiatus until 1992, Florida State’s first season in the ACC. Wake Forest did not defeat Florida State again until the Demon Deacons’ historic 2006 season, which culminated with a conference championship and Orange Bowl berth.

The Deacons won the next two after that, and their last win came in 2011. Since then, the rivalry has been all Florida State.

We’ll see on Saturday of the Noles will continue that winning trend, or if Wake Forest can pull off the upset. (I can’t believe I wrote this.)

(Stats and info courtesy of and Sports Reference)