This post originally appeared at The Daily Nole on Nov. 18, 2016
Florida State gears up to take on Syracuse for the 10th time on Saturday. The Seminoles have won the last eight in the series with the Orange and over the years, there have been some memorable performances. Narrowing it down to five wasn’t easy, but here are the five best individual efforts against Syracuse over the years:
5. Leon Washington (Oct. 10, 2004 at Syracuse)
Stats: 21 carries, 164 yards, 2 touchdowns, 4 receptions, 24 yards
At 3-2, Syracuse was coming off consecutive blowout losses to Purdue and West Virginia, but in the middle of the 2004 season, it appeared as though the Orange might catch the Seminoles sleeping. With time ticking away in the third quarter, Syracuse clung to a 10-3 lead. Enter Leon Washington. Washington’s 21-yard touchdown with less than three minutes to go in the third quarter tied things up before a 45-yard run on FSU’s next possession put the Seminoles ahead for good in a 17-13 victory. Washington finished the night with 188 total yards and FSU’s only two touchdowns.
4. Travis Rudolph (Oct. 31, 2015 in Tallahassee)
Stats: 5 receptions, 191 yards, 3 touchdowns
Syracuse entered Doak Campbell Stadium for a Halloween showdown last season, but it was sophomore wide receiver Travis Rudolph who gave the Orange nightmares. Syracuse scored to take an early 7-0 lead, but that was short-lived. On the very next play from scrimmage, Rudolph got behind the defense, made the catch and stiff-armed multiple defenders on his way to the end zone for a 75-yard touchdown. Before the first quarter ended, Rudolph had added a 45-yard score. His third touchdown catch of the day from quarterback Sean Maguire came from 19 yards out. Rudolph ended the day with 191 yards receiving — a career-high at the time and the 15th most in FSU history — in a 45-21 win.
3. Jameis Winston (Nov. 16, 2013 in Tallahassee)
Stats: 19-for-21 passing, 277 yards, 2 touchdown passes
Distraction surrounding quarterback Jameis Winston and the FSU football program were running rampant as the Seminoles prepared for their final ACC game of the 2013 regular season against conference newcomer Syracuse. The off-the-field distractions however, didn’t keep Winston from a near perfect day. The redshirt freshman quarterback and eventual Heisman Trophy winner misfired on just two of his 21 pass attempts while leading FSU to touchdowns on each of its first five possessions. Winston threw 6-yard touchdowns to Rashad Greene and Kelvin Benjamin in the 59-3 rout. Winston didn’t even need to take a snap in the second half.
2. Casey Weldon (Oct. 5, 1991 in Tallahassee)
Stats: 22-for-35 passing, 347 yards, 3 touchdown passes
Top 10 teams met in Tallahassee in 1991, but the Orangemen were no match for the top-ranked Seminoles. Syracuse led 14-7 after one, but that’s when senior quarterback Casey Weldon caught fire. Weldon finished the day with 347 yards passing and threw touchdowns to three different receivers. After opening the scoring with a 12-yard toss to Matt Frier, Weldon found fullback Edgar Bennett for a 7-yard score early in the second quarter to tie the game at 14. After FSU took a 23-14 lead, Weldon put the exclamation point on the victory with a beautiful 50-yard touchdown pass to Shannon Baker. FSU would score the game’s final 39 points in a 46-14 rout and Weldon would go on to finish as runner-up for the Heisman Trophy behind only Michigan’s Desmond Howard.
1. LeRoy Butler (Oct. 7, 1989 at Syracuse)
Stats: 4 tackles, 2 interceptions, 1 touchdown
LeRoy Butler may have been best known for being the guy who ran “puntrooskie” against Clemson in 1988, but perhaps the finest performance of his career came as a senior in the Carrier Dome in 1989. Against 17th-ranked Syracuse, the Seminoles would romp 41-10. Butler recorded just four tackles, but came up with two interceptions, including one he took back 87 yards for a touchdown late in third quarter. After moving from safety to cornerback for his senior season, Butler would nab seven interceptions and go on to be named a consensus All-American.