It wasn’t until Bobby Bowden came along that Florida State was revered as a national power. Under Bill Peterson, however, FSU made significant strides as a regional program.
Although it didn’t result in a win, one of the Seminoles’ most impressive efforts of the Peterson era came on this day 55 years ago. FSU played Paul “Bear” Bryant’s No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide to a 37-37 tie in Birmingham.
Alabama was coming off an undefeated season in 1966 and had finished in the top 10 in eight straight seasons as it arrived at Legion Field on Sept. 23, 1967. The Crimson Tide had lost just five total games in six seasons and claimed three national championships over that stretch. Unranked FSU was coming off a 6-5 season and a Sun Bowl appearance. The Seminoles had dropped their season opener to Houston.
From the get-go, FSU proved to Alabama that it was in for a fight. A touchdown pass from Kim Hammond to Ron Sellers and a 75-yard punt return for a touchdown helped the Seminoles build a 14-0 lead. Before the first quarter was over, however, Alabama went back in front.
From there, neither team led by more than seven. FSU led 24-22 at halftime and by five after three. Alabama took a fourth-quarter lead twice, but each time, the Seminoles had an answer.
After a touchdown pass and 2-point conversion run by Alabama’s Ken Stabler gave the Crimson Tide a 30-27 lead, FSU drew even on Grant Guthrie’s third field goal of the day. Ed Morgan’s touchdown run put the Crimson Tide back in front late, but Hammond’s third touchdown pass — an 8-yard strike to Bill Moremen — capped the scoring. FSU elected to kick the tying extra point with just over a minute left before the teams traded empty possessions to end the game.
Garnet and Great
Hammond finished with 280 yards passing in the win. Larry Green, who led FSU with 66 yards rushing, also caught a touchdown. Sellers finished with 13 catches for 165 yards.
Stabler threw for 192 yards and two touchdowns to Dennis Homan for Alabama. Morgan led all rushers with 98 yards.
FSU held the edge in total yards, 407-287. Each team turned the ball over three times.
Alabama would go on to finish 8-2-1 and ranked in the top 10 for the ninth season in a row. FSU overcame an 0-2-1 start to finish 7-0-1 down the stretch. After tying No. 10 Penn State in the Gator Bowl, FSU finished ranked in the Coaches Poll for the second time ever at No. 15.
Over his 11 seasons at FSU, Peterson transformed the Seminoles into a team capable of competing with anyone. Never was that more evident than when FSU stood toe-to-toe with No. 2 Alabama in Birmingham. It did so on this day 55 years ago.