By Rich Halten
For two major schools in bordering states,
the FSU - Alabama series is surprisingly brief and, by college football standards, ancient history. Its three games are confined to a ten-year period more than 30 years ago. But what it lacks in history, it makes up for in drama -- with one notable exception.
Alabama's 21 - 0 domination in the first meeting in October '65 was nothing to write home about. I know, because I covered the game for FSU's student newspaper, The Florida Flambeau. I recall a methodical Bama ground game and FSU's inability to generate much offense (Tensi and Biletnikoff had graduated). Most of all I recall supremely confident Tide fans cheering politely but with little spirit, so assured were they of the outcome. Oh, and I'll never forget the great fried chicken served in the press box.
Joe Avezzano was a senior OL in '65. We asked him if the team might have been a little dazzled by the Bear Bryant mystique:
"Going to Alabama, that was a big deal for us. And also we didn't have as good of a football team. In '64, didn't matter where we played -- at home or away -- we knew we were going to beat anybody we played. And if we didn't, it was a huge surprise to us. In '65, we weren't the same team. I'm glad we went and wish we could have played better. But it was just one of those experiences."
In the first half, the Noles drove to the Alabama 18, and later the 38. But both drives stalled out.
The closest FSU came to scoring was a second-half drive to the Tide's 15-yard line, but an interception killed any hope of points.
The Bear threw some minor praise FSU's way, saying "We had a better football team out there today than I thought we had (referring to the Noles). Although Florida State gained a lot of yardage, they didn't do anything we didn't expect, and our defense played about as well as it could."
Coach Bill Peterson called the loss "humiliating." The next two games in the series would be a far different story.
Next -- Peterson's Revenge: the Noles humble the Tide on national TV.