It was June of 1992 when Steve Spurrier, fresh off Florida’s first official SEC title, called The Sun columnist Mike Bianchi with a new name for the stadium that would eventually bear his name.
In the years that followed, there have been some unbelievable games and players. Sun writers Pat Dooley and Robbie Andreu came up with their rankings of the 25 best moments since 1992 when Spurrier gave it that moniker.
No. 2 — Nov. 23, 1997
The ‘Greatest Game’
The set-up: After winning the national championship in 1996, the Gators didn’t win a championship of any kind in 1997, which means Florida just had a so-so season by coach Steve Spurrier’s standards. But the Gators did have a chance to prevent the undefeated Seminoles from playing for a national championship if they could upset No. 1 FSU in The Swamp.Through three quarters, it looked like it was going to happen. Alternating quarterbacks Doug Johnson and Noah Brindise on every play, the Gators led at the half and again in the third quarter. But FSU started to dominate in the fourth and took a 29-25 lead with just 2:38 to play on a 20-yard field goal by Sebastian Janikowski, who celebrated by doing the Gator chomp in a relatively quiet Swamp. While FSU was on that field-goal drive, Spurrier was on the sideline drawing up a new pass play.
The moment: On the first play after the FSU field goal, Spurrier called the new play. But when the Gators got to the line of scrimmage and Johnson looked over his receivers, it was evident to him that they were confused. So, he quickly changed the play. He looked at receiver Jacquez Green and then tapped his helmet, a signal for Green to run a hitch-and-go. Green sold the hitch, and standout FSU cornerback Samari Rolle bit. As he did, Green streaked into the open behind the secondary. Johnson found him about 25 yards downfield, Green made the catch and then weaved his way across the field, all the way down to the FSU 17-yard line for a 63-yard gain.
The result: On the next play, Fred Taylor ran 16 yards to the 1 on a draw play. The play after that, he found the end zone to give the Gators a 32-29 lead with 1:50 to play. Two FSU offensive plays after that, linebacker Dwayne Thomas intercepted a Thad Busby pass, sealing the Gator victory and turning Florida Field into an “insane asylum.” Today, many consider this the greatest game in the history of The Swamp.
The quote: “We tried to run a curl a little bit earlier and Samari Rolle almost intercepted the ball. The next time we called it, (Johnson) was afraid to throw it, so he tapped his facemask which means curl and go. That’s how we hit it. The only reason we got that play was because the quarterback was afraid to throw at Samari Rolle.” — Jacquez Green
Readers comment: A good number of participating readers have selected this as their top moment in The Swamp, to include Connor, Victor, Paul Kristofferson, Jon Braddock, KG Riggsbee, Charles McCurdy, Ed C, Ryan Johnson and Rick Sanders.
“It was the 32-29 come-from-behind victory! Fred Taylor’s 4 touchdowns including the game winner after the long pass from Doug Johnson to Quex Green in the last 3 minutes. It was the loudest I ever heard THE SWAMP! And knocked #1 Undefeated FSU out of the national Championship game.It was AWESOME!!!,” wrote John Rudd
Editor’s note: You have one Swamp game moment that comes to mind? Tell us what it is. Maybe it’s already on our Top 25 list. We’ll update readers on top moments from fans as the countdown proceeds.