FSU beat its first five opponents by an average score of 46–3, during which linebacker Derrick Brooks outscored all five opponents combined. The Seminoles' first real contest didn't come until October 9, when the third ranked Miami Hurricanes came to Tallahassee with a 31 game regular season win streak. That game was sealed when FSU safety Devin Bush picked off a Frank Costa pass and ran it back 40 yards for a Florida State touchdown, making the score 28–10 with 4:59 to play.
In a matchup hailed as the "Game of the Century", the Seminoles bid for a perfect season fell short as Notre Dame prevailed, 31–24. The Irish had leads of 24-7 and 31-17 before the Seminoles scored late to cut the final margin to seven points. After that game, Notre Dame was voted #1, but FSU only dropped to the #2 spot.
As luck would have it, #1 Notre Dame lost the following week to #17 Boston College 41–39 on a last second field goal. The voters returned the Seminoles to the #1 spot, and they were matched against Nebraska (now #2) in the Orange Bowl. Although the Cornhuskers largely outplayed the heavily-favored Seminoles, Florida State rallied late to eke out an 18-16 win, as Nebraska missed a potential game-winning 45-yard field goal on the game's final play. After the bowl games, 12-1 Florida State was voted #1 and 11-1 Notre Dame was voted #2 in both polls, despite ND's convincing head-to-head win over FSU. This caused many to dispute Florida State's claim to the national championship, and the controversy continues to this day.