When Florida beat FSU to finish up the regular season, it assured the Gators of a New Year’s Six bowl game, which meant the Gators would be playing out of state.
That should have sent a shudder through the members of the fan base with a sense of history.
Because while Florida has one nostril out of the water when it comes to its all-time bowl record (22-21), the Gators are an abysmal 6-13 in bowl games not played in Florida (where they are 16-8).
The five best and five worst trips out of the Sunshine State:
1. 1997 SUGAR BOWL: Hard to beat this one. All Florida did was beat FSU 52-20, avenging an earlier loss in Tallahassee, and win its first national title. Everything about the trip was memorable from watching Ohio State upset Arizona State to give the Gators a chance to Terry Jackson’s dive into the end zone to clinch it.
2. 2007 BCS CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: The game was played in Glendale, Ariz., but the lead-up was in Scottsdale where all of the interviews took place. Florida wasn’t supposed to have a chance, but turned out Ohio State’s offense had none in the 41-14 UF win.
3. 1994 SUGAR BOWL: The 1993 team was honored during this season and rightfully so. Those Gators finished off Florida’s first 11-win season by thumping West Virginia 41-7. The Mountaineers came in 11-0 and ranked second. It was Florida’s first win in a major bowl.
4. 2010 SUGAR BOWL: Despite all of the drama that surrounded this game concerning Urban Meyer’s resignation and return, Tim Tebow’s final game as a Gator was a memorable one. UF put up 659 yards — a bowl record that may never be broken by a Florida team — in the 51-24 rout of unbeaten and fourth-ranked Cincinnati.
5. 1988 ALL-AMERICAN: This was Florida’s first win in a bowl game outside the state, as the Gators beat Illinois 14-10 in Birmingham, Ala. Emmitt Smith scored both touchdowns and rushed for 159 yards and Huey Richardson ended it with a sack of Jeff George.
1. 1996 FIESTA BOWL: It was pretty ugly. With a national championship on the line, Florida led after the first quarter and then gave up 29 second-quarter points in a 62-24 loss to Nebraska. For weeks, the easy line was, “Nebraska just scored again.”
2. 1981 PEACH BOWL: In a freezing rain, Florida played like a team that didn’t want to be there, losing 26-6 to West Virginia in Fulton County Stadium. The Gators had minus-30 rushing yards and lost despite only allowing 201 total yards.
3. 1989 FREEDOM BOWL: Talk about a team that didn’t want to be there. This was Emmitt Smith’s final game as a Gator, but he had his pads off in the second half signing autographs. Washington rolled to a 34-7 win in Anaheim, Calif., Florida scoring on its first play and never again.
4. 2013 SUGAR BOWL: Florida tarnished an 11-1 season by getting handled by Louisville and Charlie Strong 33-23. There were only a few thousand Gator fans in attendance. Florida’s first play was a pick-six the other way.
5. 1977 SUN BOWL: The boys had a good time at this game … until it started. Texas A&M rushed for 241 yards and clobbered the Gators 37-14 in El Paso, Texas. Florida lost four fumbles in the game and didn’t score until it was 24-0.