Skip to main content

Bowden Bowl 2.0?

Can Fisher and Swinney carry on the historic rivalry?
Bobby Bowden speaking at a Donald Trump rally

YouTube

The national spotlight is on the Bowden Bowl yet again…except now there are no Bowdens.

ESPN’s College GameDay comes to Tallahassee this Saturday as No. 4 Florida State (3-0) welcomes the No. 9 Clemson Tigers (3-0) into Doak Campbell Stadium, continuing the ACC rivalry that first began in 1970.

In 1999, the matchup’s prominence grew tenfold when legendary Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden had to face the new head coach of Clemson-- his son, Tommy.

When the Bowden Bowl era began, Florida State was a national powerhouse, finishing in the top five of the country for 14 straight years starting in 1987. The string of continued success came to a halt and was replaced by mediocrity for the years to come, setting up an opportunity for Tommy to come out on top.

Tommy’s first victory came in 2003 on his father’s birthday, and he went on to win three out of the next four meetings before resigning in 2008. The following year, Bobby Bowden retired.

With both programs out of national contention for many years and no more father/son competition to tune in to, the rivalry looked as if it would become a thing of the past.

Then Jimbo Fisher and Dabo Swinney came along.

Coach Fisher and his phenomenal recruiting classes have produced a 22-8 record in his time at Florida State, while last season Swinney accrued Clemson’s first ten-win season since 1990.

Florida State fell to Clemson last year, 35-30, with QB E.J. Manuel on the sidelines nursing a shoulder injury. This year, Manuel looks sharp, and FSU running back Chris Thompson provides a reliable force on offense - with only nine carries, he posted 197 yards rushing with two touchdowns last week against Wake Forest (2-1).

Florida State will need all the points it can get to keep up with the high scoring offense run by QB Tajh Boyd and exciting young receivers Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins. This will be Clemson’s first ACC game, and the Seminoles are prepared to give them quite the welcoming party.

This week-four matchup will strongly affect the ACC and BCS title aspirations for both teams this season. However, regardless of Saturday’s result, it is great to see that the Bowden Bowl will live on with two nationally contending programs for years to come, even if there are no Bowdens actually present.