1988 Sunkist Fiesta Bowl
17th edition
1234 Total
Florida State 02137 31
Nebraska 140140 28
DateJanuary 1, 1988
StadiumSun Devil Stadium
LocationTempe, Arizona
MVPDanny McManus (FSU QB)
Neil Smith            (NU DL)
FavoriteFlorida State by 3½ points [1][2]
RefereeWendell Shelton (SWC)
United States TV coverage
AnnouncersCharlie Jones, Jimmy Cefalo
Nielsen ratings7.9
Fiesta Bowl
 < 1987  1989

The 1988 Sunkist Fiesta Bowl was the 17th edition of the college football bowl game played at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona on Friday, January 1. Part of the 1987–88 bowl game season, it matched the third-ranked independent Florida State Seminoles and the #5 Nebraska Cornhuskers of the Big Eight Conference. Favored Florida State rallied to win 31–28.[3][4][5][6]


Main article: 1987 NCAA Division I-A football season

Florida State

Main article: 1987 Florida State Seminoles football team


Main article: 1987 Nebraska Cornhuskers football team

Game summary

Kickoff was just after 11:30 a.m. MST,[7] and underdog Nebraska scored first on a three-yard run by senior halfback Keith Jones with 9:31 left in the first quarter. With 1:15 left in the opening stanza, Dana Brinson fielded a punt and returned it 52 yards for a touchdown and Nebraska led 14–0.[5][6]

Florida State got on the board in the second quarter when quarterback Danny McManus threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Herb Gainer. With under five minutes left in the first half, running back Dayne Williams scored from four yards out to tie the game at fourteen. With 44 seconds left in the half, McManus connected with Gainer on a 25-yard touchdown pass, marking their second hook-up of the game, and the Seminoles took a 21–14 advantage into halftime.

Just over three minutes into the third quarter, Nebraska quarterback Steve Taylor notched the equalizer, rumbling in from two yards out to tie the game at 21. Florida State settled for a field goal for a 24–21 lead. With forty seconds left in the quarter, running back Tyreese Knox scored on a four-yard run, giving Nebraska a 28–24 lead.

In the fourth quarter, Nebraska got the ball back on its 26-yard line. Following a methodical drive, they managed to move all the way to the FSU two-yard line for a first and goal. Knox took the handoff, looking for a sure touchdown, when a defender forced a fumble at the goal line, recovered by Florida State. Ten plays later, Florida State had advanced to the Nebraska 15 and McManus threw a touchdown pass to Ronald Lewis for the clinching 31–28 score.[5][6]


First quarter
Second quarter
Third quarter
Fourth quarter


Statistics    Florida   
First Downs 26 20
Rushes–yards 29–82 54–242
Passing yards 375 142
Passes 28–51–1 7–14–1
Total yards 457 384
Punts–average 4–30 4–36
Fumbles–lost 2–1 4–2
Turnovers by 2 3
Penalties-yards 2–20 9–78
Time of possession 31:07 28:53


Florida State climbed to second in the final AP poll and Nebraska fell to sixth.


  1. ^ "The latest line". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. January 1, 1988. p. 28.
  2. ^ "Betting line". Reading Eagle. (Pennsylvania). January 1, 1988. p. 19.
  3. ^ "Fiesta foes search for No. 2". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. January 1, 1988. p. 3D.
  4. ^ "Other bowls: Fiesta". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. January 1, 1988. p. 26.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Seminoles trip Nebraska, state their claim to No. 1". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). (Los Angeles Times). January 2, 1988. p. 3B.
  6. ^ a b c "McManus guides Florida State over Cornhuskers in Fiesta Bowl". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. January 2, 1988. p. 23.
  7. ^ "TV-radio". Reading Eagle. (Pennsylvania). January 1, 1988. p. 19.
  8. ^ a b "Fiesta Bowl". Reading Eagle. (Pennsylvania). (box score). January 2, 1988. p. 8.
  9. ^ a b "Bowl games: 1988 Fiesta Bowl" (PDF). 2005 Nebraska Cornhuskers football media guide. (supplement). 2005. Archived from the original on July 23, 2020.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)