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Steve Spurrier has vivid memories of heated Florida-Tennessee rivalry

Steve Spurrier, left, shakes hands with Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer after the Gators' 23-21 in 1999 in Gainesville.

AP photo

Steve Spurrier, left, shakes hands with Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer after the Gators' 23-21 in 1999 in Gainesville.



Steve Spurrier hasn't coached at Florida since 2001, but his memories of the once highly-competitive Florida-Tennessee rivalry haven't faded at all.

With his South Carolina team having a bye this weekend, it gave Spurrier a chance to reflect on the rivalry between the Gators and Vols for nearly a decade between 1992 and 2001.

"It became a big rivalry for Florida, and for Tennessee I guess, because we were in the early 90's the two best teams in the East," Spurrier said. "I think that's fair to say. Georgia was a bit down in the early to mid 90's, and Tennessee and us were usually fighting it out for the division championship in those years. So it was a huge game."

From 1992-2001. either Florida or Tennessee represented the SEC East in the SEC Football Championship game. The Gators played in seven of those games.

And Spurrier remembers them all. But his favorite might actually surprise you.

"Well, I remember all of them,' He said. "I'll tell you which one stands out the best: the one in Knoxville, the 27-23 game (in 2000) when Jesse Palmer took us about 90 yards and we scored and beat them. We couldn't slow 'em down hardly, they ran all through us that day and really deserved to beat us, but somehow or another on 3rd-and-2 they ran a little stretch play and I think our safety Todd Johnson or somebody went in there and tackled the guy at the line of scrimmage. We got them to punt, and somehow or another we went 90 yards and scored at the end. All their students were ready to swarm the field, they were ready to come out there and then all of a sudden they just stood there and looked at each other for awhile. So I'd say that was my favorite."

Florida enters Saturday's game with an eight game winning streak, which Spurrier said speaks to the struggles Tennessee has had the past several years.

"Well, it says Tennessee's been down for a few years," he said. "I think that's what it says. We had some good fortune in the 90's there. They beat us some, also. They beat us in a big one there in 2001 in the Swamp. But I think since Tennessee's been down a bit the last several years, it hasn't been quite as big a game."




[Last modified: Thursday, September 19, 2013 3:23pm]


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