Imagine your alma mater losing a game in the most heartbreaking manner possible, while you watch on from the upper deck.
Now, imagine it happening again, seven years later.
Bobby Dodd Stadium is officially a house of horrors for the Florida State Seminoles after Saturday night’s 22-16 loss to Georgia Tech. If you recall, the meeting in Atlanta between these two teams in 2008 ended when FSU fumbled the ball just before the goal line as they were going in to score the game-winning touchdown.
Funny how on Friday night, while drinking with friends who are fellow FSU grads, I made the assertion that there was no way, no matter what happened the next night, we would witness a more heartbreaking defeat than the one we all saw in 2007. Boy, how wrong I was.
You probably want to ask me which loss was worse. I can’t honestly say it was this year’s version.
See, in 2008, I was a senior at Florida State, hoping our football team could salvage any semblance of a decent season that I had craved so badly during my four-year college career. So much had gone wrong, with a legendary head coach lingering a little too far past his prime, that it would have been pleasant to depart Tallahassee with one really good football season.
At the time FSU played the Yellow Jackets, we were ranked No. 15 and had a 6-1 record. There were hopes of a great win over GT, and then – theoretically – we would win out and have a massive showdown with Tim Tebow and the Florida Gators over Thanksgiving weekend. If we could just keep winning, there was a good chance both teams would be ranked in the top 5 for my Senior Day football game.
That was all dashed on Nov. 1, 2008, at Georgia Tech.
Now, I’m 28 and a loss just doesn’t sting me that much. Was it a miserable two hours following the game? Yes. But as a 21-year-old, that loss stuck with me for two days.
But you just watched your team’s first ACC loss since 2012, you might reply. How am I supposed to stay mad about that? We went 1,113 days without a loss to a conference foe. In 2008, when Marcus Sims fumbled that ball into Bobby Dodd’s south end zone (Saturday night’s miracle ended in the north end zone, for those who like variety), it came just 41 days after FSU’s last ACC loss.
It also helped that we were around pleasant Georgia Tech fans this time around. I can’t say as much for the bunch that surrounded us in 2008.
Finally, I can say with conviction that the better team won on that field Saturday night. FSU is undoubtedly more talented and has absolutely had a better season to this point, but that’s not how Saturday night’s game played out. GT head coach Paul Johnson had a plan to limit the number of times FSU got the ball, and on defense, they forced quarterback Everett Golson, not running back Dalvin Cook, to beat them. He didn’t do it.
Even after all that scheming, FSU still had a chance to win the game on the foot of their All-American kicker Roberto Aguayo, who probably makes that 56-yard field goal more often than he misses. The kick made it past the outstretched arms of every lineman but was tipped by the last guy who could have made contact with the ball. The end of the play, well, you know what happened.
But if that’s what it takes to beat the Florida State Seminoles, we’re doing something right. And it’s hard to be all that upset about it.
Photo: AP/Mike Stewart