It’s Florida-Tennessee week (3:30 p.m. on Saturday in Gainesville) and USC coach Steve Spurrier was asked about some of his favorite memories about the series during the SEC coaches teleconference this week.
Spurrier was 8-4 against the Volunteers as Florida’s coach.
“It became a big rivalry, for Florida and for Tennessee, I guess, because we were, in the early ’90s, the two best teams in the East,” Spurrier said. “I think that’s fair to say. Georgia was a bit down in the early ’90s, mid-’90s, and Tennessee and us were usually fighting it out for the division championship in those years. So it was a huge game.”
The shine of the game has dimmed over the past eight years. Florida has won all eight games in the series as Tennessee has gone through upheaval after upheaval. Spurrier didn’t remember the last time the Vols won (2004), but asked for his favorite game when he was with the Gators, responded with his usual dead-on memory.
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“I tell you which one stands out, the best is the one in Knoxville, the 27-23 game when Jesse Palmer took us about 90 yards and we scored to beat them,” Spurrier said. “Somehow or another, we went 90 yards and scored at the end and all the students were ready to swarm the field, they were ready to come out there, and then all of a sudden, it was over, they stood there and looked at each other for a while.”
On Sept. 16, 2000, Florida started a drive at its 9-yard-line with 2:14 to play, after Todd Johnson and Buck Gurley had stopped UT tailback Travis Henry on third-and-1. Palmer threw and threw, completing one 33-yard toss to Jabar Gaffney and another 21-yard pass to Reche Caldwell on third-and-10, before finding Gaffney for a three-yard scoring pass with 14 seconds to go.
-- David Cloninger