1989 USF&G Sugar Bowl
55th edition
1234 Total
Florida State 10300 13
Auburn 0700 7
DateJanuary 2, 1989
StadiumLouisiana Superdome
LocationNew Orleans, Louisiana
MVPSammie Smith (FSU RB)
FavoriteFlorida State by 5½ points[1]
RefereeJohn Soffey (CIFOA)
United States TV coverage
AnnouncersAl Michaels, Frank Gifford,
and Dan Dierdorf
Sugar Bowl
 < 1988  1990

The 1989 Sugar Bowl was the 55th edition of the college football bowl game, played at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana, on Monday, January 2. Part of the 1988–89 bowl game season, it featured the fourth-ranked independent Florida State Seminoles and the #7 Auburn Tigers of the Southeastern Conference (SEC).[3][4] Favored Florida State won the defensive slugfest, 13–7.[5][6][7]

Sponsored by the USF&G insurance company, the game was officially known as the USF&G Sugar Bowl. New Year's Day was on Sunday in 1989, and the college bowl games were played the following day.


Main article: 1988 NCAA Division I-A football season

Both teams entered the game with one loss.

Florida State

Main article: 1988 Florida State Seminoles football team

The Seminoles opened the season ranked first, but were shut out 31–0 at Miami in the opener and fell to tenth in the AP poll. They won the remainder of their games.


Main article: 1988 Auburn Tigers football team

The Tigers' only loss was by a point at LSU on October 8, and they fell from fourth to twelfth in the AP poll.

Game summary

The game kicked off shortly after 7:30 p.m. CST,[3][4] following the Rose Bowl on ABC, and shortly after the start of the Orange Bowl on NBC. Played on Monday night, the broadcast team in the booth was from ABC's Monday Night Football.

Florida State played well on its first offensive possession, and running back Dayne Williams capped an 84-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run. That would mark the only touchdown Florida State would score in the game. Auburn quarterback Reggie Slack's first pass of the game was intercepted by strong safety Stan Shiver at the Auburn 44-yard line. Florida State's four-play drive ended with a 25-yard Bill Mason field goal to put the score at 10–0 Florida State.

At the end of the first quarter, Florida State defensive back Dedrick Dodge intercepted a Reggie Slack pass at the Auburn 38-yard line and the succeeding drive Mason's second field goal of the game, a 31-yarder, more than three minutes into the second quarter, which was FSU's last score of the game. With 4:09 left in the first half, Reggie Slack threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Walter Reeves, on a playaction pass, making it Florida State 13–7, and neither team scored again.

The game was filled with several mistakes from Florida State. Running back Sammie Smith score on a 69-yard touchdown run was wiped out by a holding penalty. Despite the penalty, he would still finish the game with a game high 115 yards rushing. Florida State had first and goal at the Auburn 4-yard line, but came up empty after a fake field goal missed. These errors nearly cost Florida State the game.

With 3:30 left in the game, Auburn drove from its own 4-yard line to Florida State's 22-yard line. With five seconds left Reggie Slack's pass was intercepted in the end zone by Deion Sanders, sealing Florida State's win.[5][6][7]

Scoring summary

Scoring summary
Quarter Time Drive Team Scoring information Score
Plays Yards TOP FSU AU
1 12 84 5:12 FSU Dayne Williams 2-yard touchdown run, Andrews kick good 7 0
1 4 –1 2:21 FSU 25-yard field goal by Bill Mason 10 0
2 8 24 4:22 FSU 31-yard field goal by Bill Mason 13 0
2 4:09 7 51 2:44 AU Walter Reeves 20-yard touchdown reception from Reggie Slack, Win Lyle kick good 13 7
"TOP" = time of possession. For other American football terms, see Glossary of American football. 13 7


Statistics Florida State     Auburn    
First Downs 21 18
Rushes–yards 47–148 36–108
Passing yards 157 162
Passes 14–27–1 19–33–3
Total Offense 74–305 69–270
Return yards 11 38
Punts–average 4–35.0 4–35.8
Fumbles–lost 2–1 3–2
Turnovers 2 5
Penalties–yards 6–45 5–65
Time of possession 33:35 26:25


Florida State climbed to third in the final AP poll and Auburn remained at seventh.


  1. ^ "Latest line: College bowls". Gainesville Sun. (Florida). January 1, 1989. p. 4C.
  2. ^ a b "Sugar Bowl". Orlando Sentinel. January 3, 1989. p. 31. Retrieved January 8, 2020 – via newspaper.com.
  3. ^ a b Tyler, Bobby (January 1, 1989). "Sugar still sweet for FSU, Auburn". Gainesville Sun. (Florida). p. 3C.
  4. ^ a b "Can Auburn's defense stymie the Seminoles?". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. January 2, 1989. p. 5C.
  5. ^ a b c d "Seminoles win Sugar at the end". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. January 3, 1989. p. 3D.
  6. ^ a b Smothers, Jimmy (January 3, 1989). "Florida State leaves Tigers frustrated early". Tuscaloosa News. (New York Times). p. 11.
  7. ^ a b "Seminoles claim Sugar Bowl victory". The Bulletin. (Bend, Oregon). UPI. January 3, 1989. p. B2.