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Wednesday October 11, 2006Rivalries and Series: Florida-Auburn

Gainesville, FL

As part of the celebration of the 100th season of Florida football, gatorzone.com 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.

 

Each of the features is being reprinted in a way that mirrors the original as much as possible. While records, figures and statistics have been updated, all references to people who helped shape Florida football’s history reflect the time period in which the feature was written.

 

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

 

Florida's oldest rival, the Gators and Auburn are in their ninth decade of competition against each other. There has been enough joy, tears, upsets, comebacks, gut-wrenching defeats or wins, controversy, seriousness and humor to satisfy fans from both schools in the Florida-Auburn football series, which dates back to 1912 .

 

There are games you remember, games you wish you could forget.

 

No true Gator will ever forget the Steve Spurrier field goal 30 years ago for a 30-27 win at Homecoming in Gainesville, or the fourth-quarter comeback from a 17-0 deficit in 1986 when gimpy-legged Kerwin Bell hobbled into the end zone for a two-point conversion following his TD pass to Ricky Nattiel in a 18-17 victory.

 

Auburn fans no doubt recall the 1983 game at Jordan-Hare Stadium when Bo Jackson's 80-yard run helped hold off a furious comeback in a 28-21 win, and they certainly remember the 1993 and 1994 upsets of highly-ranked Gator teams.

 

Some odd happenings took place in games most fans have probably forgotten.

           

In 1913 the Gators opened their season by blanking Florida Southern, 144-0. The next week they lost to Auburn, 55-0. Early proof that each Saturday's outcome stands on its own merit.

 

Florida's first series win came in 1927 when Clyde (Cannonball) Crabtree ran for two touchdowns, punted one 57 yards with his right foot and then hit another punt "over 50 yards" with his left foot while on a dead run.

 

In 1928 Carl Brumbaugh made "Ripley's Believe It Or Not" by scoring three touchdowns within two minutes of each other - the first on a 19-yard run, the second on a 30-yard following an Auburn fumble, and the third on a 36-yard interception return. He also kicked the extra point after his final score in the 27-0 victory for the Gators.

 

The series has continued through the years, producing memorable game after memorable game. The Tigers lead the series, 40-38-2, but the Gators have the edge since 1950, 28-25, and won eight out of 10 tilts in the 1990s. Since the turn of the century, the Gators are 3-1 against Auburn, including an SEC Championship game win in 2000 and a 30-23 overtime win in 2002.

 

Florida highlights over the years:

 

1948 - One of the biggest wins of the Golden Era (well, any win was a big win). The Gators broke a three-year SEC losing streak by knocking off the Tigers before 18,000 fans at Phillips Field in Tampa. Charlie Hunsinger and Hal (Buggo) Griffin scored TDs in a 16-9 upset.

 

1952 - Florida's first bowl team came from behind twice at Homecoming to overcome the Tigers. Rick Casares ran for two touchdowns, kicked a 30-yard field goal and four PATs to lead the charge in a 31-21 victory before a packed house of 35,000.

             

1954 - The Gators broke open a tight game with a 16-yard scoring pass from Fred Robinson to Bob Smith with only seconds remaining in the first half and an 84-yard TD run by Bobby Lance on the first play of the second half. Final was 19-13.

 

1956 - Conservative coach Bob Woodruff shocked the favored Tigers at another UF Homecoming contest with a halfback pass from Jackie Simpson to Jim Rountree for a second-quarter TD. On the next Gator series, 137-pound quarterback Jimmy Dunn ran 58 yards for another Florida score. In the second half tackle Ray Midden picked up a blocked punt and ran 35 yards for the TD, making the final margin 20-0.

 

1961 - Big Auburn tackle George Gross appeared to have Lindy Infante trapped in the backfield, only to whiff him, and the result was a 51-yard gain which set up a TD. When Gross came to the sideline he explained to Tiger defensive mentor Hal Herring that he "lost him in the sun."

 

1962 - Unbeaten, fifth-ranked Auburn came to town 5-0 and left with a solid whipping. Florida picked off two passes and recovered three fumbles to set up touchdowns by Bruce Starling, Jim O'Donnell and Larry Dupree in a 22-3 win in front of 35,000 fans.

 

1964 - The Gators forced seven turnovers before a record Florida Field crowd of 47,200, scoring on an 84-yard return of a pass interception by Dick Kirk and a five-yard run by quarterback Steve Spurrier. End Lynn Matthews was a defensive hero for the Gators in a 14-0 win.

 

1966 - Florida 30, Auburn 27 on a 40-yard field goal by Steve Spurrier. Need we say anything else about this all-time classic?

 

1969 - Running backs coach John Reaves has bribed me not to write anything about his nine interceptions in this contest at Auburn. He said five of them were actually better than long punts anyhow.

 

1973 - Obviously one of the biggest wins in the series for Florida. It was the first victory for the Gators at Jordan-Hare Stadium, one engineered by sophomore quarterback Dan Gaffney, who was making the first start of his career. The Gators defense dominated the game in a 12-8 win.

 

1976 - One of the most exciting games in the series took place at Florida Field with the Gators winning 24-19. Wide receiver Wes Chandler turned a short pass into a 52-yard TD with a brilliant broken-field run. Catching the ball near the west sideline, Chandler weaved and juked through eight potential tacklers to score in the northeast corner of the end zone. “War Eagle” then bit him on the shoulder pad and the Tigers received a 15-yard penalty on the ensuing kickoff.

 

1982 - The Gators came from behind in front of a record Florida Field crowd of 73,532 to post a 19-17 victory on Jim Gainey's 42-yard field goal with five seconds remaining in the game. Gainey kicked a 31-yard field goal with 2:51 left to bring the Gators within one at 17-16. Florida got the on-side kick and then moved to the winning score.

 

1984 - Another record Florida field crowd, this time 74,397, watched a stifling Florida defense and the running of Neal Anderson, Lorenzo Hampton and John L. Williams. Anderson ran for 108 yards, had TD jaunts of 36 and 45 yards, and Hampton ran 43 yards for a TD in a solid 24-3 win.

 

1985 - One of the greatest games in the history of the series. Florida held Bo Jackson to his lowest yardage total of the season (48) and came from behind on an eight-yard pass from Kerwin Bell to Ray McDonald win 7:18 remaining in the game. That combination had scored earlier on a three-yard pass in the second quarter. The win vaulted Florida to its first No. 1 ranking in school history.

 

1986 - Kerwin Bell, who had missed nearly a month of action with a knee injury, came off the bench to rally the Gators from a 17-0 deficit in the fourth quarter. He drove the Gators 79 yards in 10 plays, scoring on a one-yard sneak with 12:09 remaining in the game, then took them to the Tiger 34 where Robert McGinty hit a 51-yard field goal to make it 17-10 with 7:10 left in the contest. The final drive was a masterful 7-play, 66-yard effort. Using the two-minute drill offense to perfection, Bell finally produced a five-yard scoring pass to Ricky Nattiel with 0:36 remaining. He then ran for the two-point conversion in what is probably the greatest comeback in UF history, an 18-17 win.

 

1990 - Gator fans are sure to remember the 48-7 smashing of unbeaten, fourth-ranked Auburn in 1990. It was the largest margin ever for the Gators over the Tigers, and the worst defeat of Pat Dye's career. Auburn rushed from minus 14 yards and the Gator ran up 455 yards of total offense against one of the nation's top defensive teams.

 

1999 - Defensive backs Bennie Alexander and Marquand Manuel both intercepted passes, leading to 10 Gator points, and the defense yielded just one rushing yard as Florida stormed to a 32-14 victory. With the win, former Gator coach Steve Spurrier claimed his 99th victory at his alma mater, passing Oklahoma’s Barry Switzer (98) for the most wins by a major college coach in his first 10 years at a school.

 

2000 – Florida won its sixth SEC title in 10 years as it took advantage of three Auburn turnovers and jumped out to a 21-0 second-quarter lead en route to a 28-6 victory over the Tigers before a 73,427 SEC Championship Game crowd at the Georgia Dome. The victory gave Florida a berth in the Sugar Bowl, a school and SEC-record eighth consecutive January bowl game appearance and a school-record seventh straight win over the Tigers.

 

2003 – Bobby McCray blocked a Damon Duval field goal with 30 seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime. Rex Grossman then hit Taylor Jacobs on a third-down 25-yard TD pass in OT on UF’s first possession in the extra period. UF then forced a fumble and Ian’s Scott recovery sealed the first-ever OT win.

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