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Tuesday October 3, 2006Rivalries and Series: Florida-LSU

Gainesville, FL

As part of the celebration of the 100th season of Florida football, will run a series of historical features throughout the preseason and the 2006 campaign. The series will give Gator fans an appreciation and understanding of the past teams and players that helped build the Gator football program.


During preseason practice, readers can learn about ground-breaking Florida teams of the past on Tuesdays and Thursdays with the “Great Teams and Eras” series. In addition to those stories, each Friday from the beginning of preseason practice until the season’s first game will feature a look at one of Florida’s legendary players as part of the “Gator Greats” series.


Once the season is underway, the look back in time will continue on Tuesdays and Thursdays with “Rivalries and Series” and “Great Games” entries relevant to the week’s opponent. Occasionally, additional stories will be unveiled on Wednesday of game weeks when the opportunity arises.


As the 2006 football season approaches, take some time to sit back and reflect on the teams, players and moments that all lead up to this, the 100th season of Florida Gator football.



By Norm Carlson


There have been many highlight reel plays and games in the Florida-LSU series, and a few of which are at the other end of the scale. The most unusual game between these two schools since they started playing back in 1937 probably occurred at Florida Field in 1972.


It was played in front of just over 46,000 brave fans who showed up in a rainstorm which began as a few sprinkles in the pre-game and turned into a flashflood variety deluge during the first quarter. There were estimates at the time that nearly three inches of rain fell from kickoff to conclusion of the contest. LSU head football coach Charley McClendon said after the game that he didn’t believe the game could have been finished if it wasn’t played on artificial turf.


Coach Mac, who now lives in Orlando and attends almost every Gator home game and tailgates with his wife Dorothy Faye and good friends John and Blanche Shelton, stood on the east sideline that day and watched his field goal kickers miss seven out of eight attempts while Florida made good on its only attempt for a 3-3 final score.


LSU missed a 36-yard field goal in the first quarter and finished that period at the UF three-yard line, only to lose the ball on a fumble on the first play of the second quarter. Following a short punt, the Tigers attempted a 28-yard field goal and missed.


What turned out to be Florida’s best chance to win the game came on the first play after that missed LSU kick. David Bowden hit Nat Moore out of the backfield on a short pass and he too it 79 yards down the east sideline and was tackled at the LSU one-yard line.


Some said he was caught from behind but insists Mike Williams had an angle on him and he couldn’t accelerate on the wet Astroturf. Whatever, the Gators’ Andy Summers fumbled on the next play and LSU recovered at their one-yard line.


LSU missed a 27-yarder and it was 0-0 halftime.


In the third quarter, the Tigers finally got on the scoreboard when Juan Roca drilled a 45-yard attempt as the rain came down so heavily you could hardly see the scoreboard. Roca then missed two consecutive 36-yard attempts before John Williams, made his only attempt of the day in the fourth quarter, a 35-yard kick, to make it 3-3.


The final drive of the day symbolized the frustration felt by both teams. LSU drove from its 34-yard line in eight plays and Roca tried a 34-yard field goal with 25 seconds remaining. Florida linebacker Fred Abbott broke through and blocked it.


There was a scramble for the loose ball and in the confusion the Gator defenders went to the bench, only to have the defensive coordinator Doug Knotts wave them back on the field. LSU had recovered the ball for a first down and was lining up to attempt another field goal.


“Has our #()$&%* offense fumbled already?”, Abbott screamed at Knotts as he trotted back on the field.


However, the Tigers then missed a 22-yard attempt as the clock expired.


“I still remember that game,” says Coach Mac. “But not too fondly.”


It certainly was the strangest Florida-LSU games in 44 meetings between the two schools.  

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