Bouncing back essential after tough UF defeats


Former Florida quarterback Rex Grossman is taken down by Tennessee's John Henderson during the Gators' 34-32 loss to the Volunteers in 2001. (File photo)

Published: Saturday, September 14, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, September 13, 2013 at 9:24 p.m.

Certainly, Florida's 21-16 loss at Miami was a tough loss to take for the Gator Nation. Was it one of the toughest ever for the Gators?

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Former Florida quarterback Rex Grossman is taken down by Tennessee's John Henderson during the Gators' 34-32 loss to the Volunteers in 2001. (File photo)

Time will tell. The wound is too fresh to know how damaging it will be. Years from now, we'll have a better feel for where it ranks among difficult losses for Florida fans.

The key is how Florida will bounce back. There's an old coaching cliche that you can't let one loss become two. The open week helps and since it is an open week, we decided to look back at the 10 toughest losses for UF fans during the regular season and how the Gators recovered in their next game.

1. 1980: Georgia 26, Florida 21

What happened: Buck Belue and Lindsay Scott hooked up on a 93-yard touchdown pass with just over a minute to play to give Georgia the win.

Why it stung: The game was over. Florida had pulled off a major upset before the play happened. And Georgia went on to win the national title.

How UF recovered: The Gators had a bit of a hangover the following week in Lexington, but pulled out a 17-15 win on Brian Clark's late field goal.

2. 2001: Tennessee 34, Florida 32

What happened: In what would turn out to be the last game Steve Spurrier would coach at The Swamp as a Gator, the Vols used a big day from Travis Stephens and a thwarted UF 2-point attempt to win.

Why it stung: Everything was on the line. The East, the national title, the Heisman. And it has always stuck with Gator fans that the game was postponed by 9/11.

How UF recovered: Florida went to the Orange Bowl and clobbered ACC champion Maryland 56-23 despite Rex Grossman being suspended to start the game.

3. 1996: FSU 24, Florida 21

What happened: The Seminoles used a stellar defense to shut down the Fun 'N' Gun and come away with a victory that would send them to the Sugar Bowl.

Why it stung: It wasn't just that so much was on the line in this game. It was the late hits on Danny Wuerffel that really hit home with Florida fans.

How UF recovered: Even though Steve Spurrier was distracted by the late hits from the previous game, he summoned the troops and won the SEC Championship Game against Alabama.

4. 2009: Alabama 32, Florida 13

What happened: The Tide spent a year getting ready for the Gators and contained Tim Tebow and the unbeaten Gators in the SEC Championship Game.

Why it stung: Florida was going for three national titles in four years and was unbeaten going into the game. And Alabama fans rubbed it in by cheering when the video screen showed Tebow sobbing.

How UF recovered: Well, first Urban Meyer had to go to the hospital. Then he resigned. Then he came back. Then Florida pounded unbeaten Cincinnati in the Sugar Bowl.

5. 1966: Georgia 27, Florida 10

What happened: The Bulldogs pressured Steve Spurrier into mistakes and throttled the Gators to put an end to their unbeaten season.

Why it stung: The Gators were coming off the emotional win against Auburn when Spurrier kicked a 40-yard field goal and it appeared they were destined to win their first SEC title.

How UF recovered: The following week, the Gators handled Tulane 31-10 in Gainesville. Spurrier still won the Heisman.

6. 1994: Auburn 36, Florida 33

What happened: The Tigers won the game late when Frankie Sanders caught a touchdown pass in the south end zone of The Swamp.

Why it stung: Auburn had won the year before. Florida was ranked No. 1. It was another loss to a Bowden. It wasn't a good day in Gainesville.

How UF recovered: The Gators got a week off before thrashing Georgia 52-14 in the rain in Gainesville.

7. 1985: Georgia 24, Florida 3

What happened: The Bulldogs used a powerful running attack and a stifling defense to handle the Gators in Jacksonville.

Why it stung: Florida had ascended to No. 1 for the first time ever just a few days before this game. And a lot of people thought the win the year before was a sign that the rivalry was about to turn.

How UF recovered: Florida dropped to 11th in the Associated Press poll but was able to edge Kentucky in Gainesville 15-13.

8. 1969: Auburn 38, Florida 12

What happened: John Reaves set a record that probably will never be broken by throwing nine interceptions in the loss on the Plains.

Why it stung: The Super Sophs were unbeaten and it looked like this would be the year the Gators won the SEC.

How UF recovered: Not very well. The offense struggled again against Georgia and a late botched field goal attempt by Florida left the game in a 13-13 tie.

9. 1976: Georgia 41, Florida 27

What happened: Florida jumped out to a big lead, but Georgia was able to rally to get the win in Jacksonville.

Why it stung: Fourth-and-Dumb. Certainly, this was a devastating loss for the Gators as far as the SEC went but going for it on fourth-and-1 from their own 29 will never be forgotten.

How UF recovered: Florida still had a chance to tie for the SEC title, but this was a perfect example of one loss becoming two as they lost at Kentucky 28-9

10. 1964: FSU 16, Florida 7

What happened: The Seminoles used a 55-yard touchdown catch by Fred Biletnikoff and three Les Murdock field goals to beat No. 14 Florida.

Why it stung: FSU had never beaten Florida. Gator players were brash enough to wear “Never, FSU, Never” on their helmets during practice. The win propelled FSU to its first top 10 ranking.

How UF recovered: Florida was able to beat Miami 12-10 in Gainesville. Also, the Gators stunned LSU in Baton Rouge a week later in a game that had been postponed by a hurricane.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at dooleyp@gvillesun.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.

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