Saturday, September 21, 2013

Game Day Florida vs. Tennessee

Florida starts conference play today with an old rival that hasn't put up much of a fight over the last decade, and no one expects the Volunteers to put up much of a fight in this 3:30 game at the Swamp.

Last week the Gators had a bye week, while Tennessee was trounced by Oregon 59-14. Despite Tennessee jumping out of the gate with a 7 point lead, the game was never close. Oregon outscored Tennessee 49-0 in the two middle quarters of the game.

Neither of these teams are anywhere near their best but there have been some very memorable match-ups between the Gators and the Volunteers. The last of these "great games" was probably the 2006 game. The Gators were ranked 7th, while the Vols were number 13. It was a great game with the Gators coming out on top 21-30. Tim Tebow was on the team, but it was Chris Leak who led the Gators to the victory! And for those of you that still claim great defenses win championships, lets not forget the Gators' offense put up 79 points in the SEC and BCS Championship Games.

Another great game between Florida and Tennessee was the 2001 game.Tennessee was struggling at the beginning of the season, but the 9/11 tragedy moved the game to December 1, 2001. In 2001, Florida and Tennessee each came into the game with 9-1 overall records and 6-1 SEC records and the winner was poised to take the SEC title and face Miami for the national title in the Rose Bowl.  Despite the even records, the University of Florida was a clear favorite going into the game, with all the television analyst's going with the orange and blue. This gave the Tennessee team a reason to be  fighting mad and fired up. In the fourth quarter, the Gators led 23-21, but the game was far from over. With Gator fans making the Swamp as loud as possible, tailback Travis Stephens disrespected the crowd by raising his hands to the sky, begging the Florida crowd for more noise. Casey Clausen gained three yards on a naked bootleg to keep the drive alive, and two plays later, Stephens ripped off a 34-yard run to set up a two-yard Jabari Davis touchdown run. With only 1:10 left on the clock, Grossman answered with a 66-yard drive ending in a touchdown. Unfortunately both the two point conversion and the onside kick failed.Gators fans had to endure "Rocky Top" as they filed out of the swamp and as a last jab to the Gators, defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth uttered the final insult "It's The Swamp, I guess,but we made it into a little old pond today." 

In 1997 the 3rd ranked Gators faced the 4th ranked Volunteers in Peyton Manning's senior year at Tennessee. He had yet to beat Steve Spurrier and the Gators, and some speculated that he chose to stay and play his senior year for just that reason. Steve Spurrier joked that there another reason: "I know why Peyton wanted to come back for his senior year: He wanted to be a three-time Citrus Bowl MVP!" And Spurrier had previously observed that "You can't spell Citrus without the UT." The Gators were coming off a national championship and the Vols hadn't beat them since 1992. It was a game to be enjoyed by Gator fans with Manning throwing 2 picks, one of them returned by Tony George for a touchdown. The end score was 33-20 in the Gator's favor and the Gators earned the privilege to boast that one of the greatest quarterbacks in both college and professional football could not win against them!

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