For those who don’t get that headline, it’s an old (like me) Groucho Marx joke.
Anyway, the subject today is Tuscaloosa (not the tusks are looser), and how tough a place it is to play. Urban Meyer and the Gators certainly can attest to that. The last time the Gators ventured into Tuscaloosa, the Tide handed offensive-challenged Florida a humbling 31-3 loss in Meyer’s first season in 2005. It was (and still is) the worst defeat in Meyer’s coaching career.
But Meyer and some in Gator Nation might find it surprising that Florida actually almost has a .500 record in Tuscaloosa. Dating back to 1921, the Gators are 5-6 in Tuscaloosa. So don’t despair, there’s hope (very real hope) for a Florida victory on Saturday night.
Of the five UF victories in Tuscaloosa, two stand out — the 10-6 victory in 1963 and the 17-13 win in 1990.
A little bit about both games.
That 1963 game is considered by many to be the biggest upset victory in school history. The Gators were unranked and Alabama was ranked No. 3 in the nation — and Bear Bryant had not lost a game in Tuscaloosa. There is a famous picture from that game, one showing Ray Graves being carried off the field on the shoulders of his players. Many believe it was the greatest road victory ever for the Gators.
The 1990 win wasn’t too shabby, either. It was only the second game of the Steve Spurrier era, and many around the league were speculating that Spurrier’s finesse pro-style passing offense would prove to be a big dud in the run-oriented SEC. Spurrier, of course, proved the critics wrong in a big way. Over the next few years, he would change the way the game was played in the SEC.
It all started with that Alabama game in 1990. It was a tight game against the league’s most tradition-rich team — the kind of game the Gators always seemed to lose in the past. But UF pulled this one out and the Gators were on their way toward championship days.
To this day, Spurrier says that 1990 Alabama victory was one of the biggest wins in his 12 years at UF because it helped the Gators break from their non-championship past. The rest, as they say, is history.
Looking back now, it’s pretty obvious that Tuscaloosa has actually been good to the Gators.
Who knows, maybe it will turn out to be that way again Saturday night.