Two days before the big game against the Volunteers, we look back at the five most memorable moments of this series.
10) Tale of Two Halves (1996)
The eventual national champion Gators jumped out to a 35-0 lead and simply took a nap in this game, perfectly content to watch the Vols slowly drive down the field, eat clock, sometimes score, and sometimes not. The final score is not indicative of how the game went, as UT’s final touchown came with less than half a minute to play. Florida recovered the ensuing onside kick and won, 35-29.
9) SEC East Championship (2001)
Travis Stephens had always been told he was too small, but in Steve Spurrier’s Florida regular season finale, his defense, well, forgot how to play defense and let Stephens run for 200 yards. This game was moved to the end of the season due to the 9/11 attacks, and a Florida win would put them in the SEC Championship Game and possibly in the National Championship Game as well. The Gators trailed 34-26 with time running out and the Gators scored to pull within two. But Rex Grossman’s two point conversion pass fell incomplete. The Vols held on for the 34-32 thriller.
8) Hines Goes All Ballerina on Vols (2010)
Deadlocked in a dreary, ugly, 10-10 game only a year ago, Urban Meyer stepped in and boldly called for a fake punt to try to shake awake a sleeping Gators team. The ball was snapped directly to Omarious Hines and he was off the races. 37 yards and 3 spin moves later, he was finally tackled. Meyer’s plan worked, and the Gators woke up, took advantage of UT turnovers, and walked out of Knoxville with a solid 31-17 victory. It was the first time the Gators had ever won three straight in Knoxville.
7) Tebow Seals Victory With Career Preview (2006)
In a fantastic, back and forth battle that included a catch-dive-touchdown by Jamalle Cornelius, a pair of insane interceptions by Reggie Nelson, and a comeback by Florida to retake the lead for good, nothing epitomizes this game more than the ending. The Gators were trying to run out the clock, and faced a critical 4th and 1. Urban Meyer elected to go for it, and backup freshman QB Tim Tebow came through, knifing through the line for the first down. The Gators held on, 21-20
6) I’m Just Making Sure We Win (1995)
Sophomore QB Peyton Manning led his Vols into the Swamp- and into a Trojan horse ambush. The Vols worked their way to a 37-24 lead- and then Steve Spurrier’s Gators began to score. And score. And score. And score some more. When the smoke had cleared, the Gators had score 48 unanswered points to win 62-37. Spurrier denied running up the score, and Vols coach Phil Fulmer did too. He said, “It’s our job to stop it. If I can get 62 on him, I will.” And he did (took him three years, though).
5) Peyton Manning to Tony George, 88 Yard Touchdown Pass (1997)
Having never beaten Florida in his first three tries, Manning tried to get at least one victory over his tormentors. Trying to make something happen to boost his Volunteers, Manning made a big play- for the Gators. Tony George stepped in, picked off his deep pass and took it all the way for the score. The Vols never recovered, and Manning threw another pick later in the game that sealed his fate- he was going 0-4 against the Gators. Florida won, 33-20.
4) FaxGate (1991)
Before the 1991 game, reports swirled that former Tennessee assistant Jack Sells, angry at being fired for recruiting violations, faxed Gator defensive coordinator Ron Zook a copy of the Vols playbook. The game itself, won by the Gators 35-18, paled in comparison to this storyline, whcich turned out to have two guilty parties: both Florida and Tennessee had some copies of each other’s playbooks. An SEC investigation that ended without any punishment concluded shortly thereafter.
3) Gaffney Game (2000)
A tight game in Knoxville slowly wound down with Florida driving for the win. Down 23-20, Gator QB Jesse Palmer threw an end zone pass to Jabar Gaffney, who briefly touched the ball with both hands and the ref signaled touchdown as the ball bounced through the end zone. Replays shown following the game were very questionable, but the ruling held. Tennessee failed to score on their last chance and Florida won, 27-23.
2) Tebow vs. Berry (2009)
The game in itself was boring compared to Kiffin’s pregame trash talk. He first said he looked forward to singing Rocky Top all night long after beating Florida. Then he accused Gator coach Urban Meyer of cheating on the recruiting trail. This led for a great storyline… but the Gators were not up to the task… except for Tim Tebow, who took a shotgun snap, saw nobody, and took off. Eric Berry, the UT safety, took him on one on one and this resulted in a heavy bomb sound on the field in an epic collision. Sorry Eric Berry, but you got knocked back 15 feet. Florida won, 23-13.
1) Phantom Penalty/Redemption (2004)
A 21-21 tie became a Gator 28-21 lead on an 81 yard bomb from Chris Leak to Chad Jackson with 7:43 to go. The Vols came right back down the field and scored, but James Wilhoit, who had never done this in his entire life, EVER, missed the PAT. Florida got the ball back and stalled. Right before the ensuing punt, Florida’s Dallas Baker and the Vols’ Johnthan Wade got into a little girl fight, slapping each other. Somehow, only Baker got flagged. Tennessee QB Casey Clausen said thank you very much, took the 15 yards, and got into range for Wilhoit to redeem himself- which he did from 50 yards, and Tennessee won a controversial 30-28 thriller.