Alabama … where the Tuscaloosa


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.


  1. It may not be the most important, but the 1986 game in Tuscaloosa was the break out game for a freshman named Emmitt Smith. He came out of nowhere to rush for over 200 yards in a thorough beat down. I was a sophomore at the time, and I remember screaming at my roommates as we watched the game, “He’s only a freshman!”

  2. I was a sophomore at UF when UF beat Bama in 1990. That was early in the season, second game maybe, and the town was still in shock from the murders. I remember being so confident that we would lose that game that i pledged to buy a keg for our fraternity house that night if we won and . . . we won. Will White had 3 interceptions.

  3. Great article Robbie. Do I sense that you are leaning towards an upset pick next Saturday? I know Pat has already picked Bama at the Swampcast, right after our win against UK.
    Just wondering…

  4. I remember the game in Birmingham when a freshman named Emmitt Smith rushed for 224 yards and 2 TD’s and carried UF to an unlikely victory. Birmingham, where the SEC Offices are. Yeah, that same state containing that same Alabama team that SEC officials refuse to call holding and pass interference on in big games. The Gators will get no breaks from the refs this weekend.

  5. I was 13, growing up in Tallahassee at the time of the game. My did went to Florida, as I would, so I was, by default, a Gator. We made it through the late-80s (the dark years), to which our only bright spot was Emmitt Smith and a few good SEC victories. We were on a 3 game losing streak to FSU and I was tired of hearing it from my friends. My dad was psyched up about Spurrier because he went to Florida at the same time. I think Dooley wrote an article that quoted a former teammate of Spurrier that said a lot about what my dad thought that day. “Steve is here, everything is gonna be alright.”

  6. Todd, I agree with you man. Also Nick Saban (aka Satan) is such a dirty coach…during the Ala-Ark game, after Ark had scored the first time, Ark had the ball near the goal line and Alabama was called for a 12-man illegal formation. I bet Satan sent 12 men on purpose since the penalty was just half the distance from the goal line if he got caught (which he did) so it was almost like replaying the down, same actitude as “what do I got to lose?”. Satan will do anything including cheating on the practices of the opposing team in order to win. That’s a known fact.

  7. OKay, so I’m really old, 60 in a month, Class of ’72. I grew up in Fort Walton Beach where every Sunday afternoon we were treated to a half hour of Auburn coach Shug Jordan (pronounced ‘jerdan’ for anyone who doesn’t connect his name to the Tigers’ stadium) and gravelly Bear Bryant. The Panhandle in the 1960s was so much south Alabama spill-over. Being a Gator could be lonely. When Florida with Tommy Shannon at QB knocked off the Tide in 1963, it rocked that world. Really neat.
    I got to see Ray Graves’ first game at UF, the big upset over Georgia Tech in 1960, but just hearing the Gator’s win over an AM radio frequency was sweet in ’63. We can win this Saturday! Go Gators!!

  8. Good article Robbie. I rmemeber that ’90 game well.

    I am somewhat puzzled by the sentiment with all the reports we’re getting about this game. Sure we are destined for a tussle at Tuscaloosa and a huge task. But it almost seems as if all in the media have chalked this up for a for sure BAMA win. UF could be a dangerous team right now. Some uncertainty, young players, how much has the UF staff held back, etc. I am sure that Meyer has been preparing a long time for this game. He does not want a repeat of ’05. They may not be talking Revenge but remember how Meyer is against teams after a loss to them. I think this will be a much different game on Saturday night. Go Gators.

  9. Yeah HHO, I watched that Arkie game last weekend, and when Arkie was up 20 – 7 that was when the holding by the Bama OL began in earnest and it didn’t let up or was called once until it was 24 – 20 Bama. They did it all last year and for a stretch of NINE AND A HALF GAMES up until the first half of the BCSCG v.s. Texas, Bama’s OL went without a single holding penalty. HOLD TIDE HOLD.
    Their DB’s are also notorious for grabbing and interfering with recievers too, and the SEC refs will just look the other way to make sure Bama rolls on without a hitch. It’s a sad situaion that this kind of blatant favoritism goes on in the SEC’s officiatng ranks and Commish Slive does nothing about it.

  10. If you look at how this game plays out according to the NCAA statistics, we have an edge in Special Teams, Sacks, Sacks Allowed, Red Zone Effeciency, and Tackles for Loss. If our front 7 can get into this game early, we have a huge chance. Our special teams could make it special. For those that don’t believe that our body of work has been the same, they too need to look at the Total Offense and Total Defense of both teams opponents. UA’s opponents on Total Offense was 60.5 and UF’s was 63.75. UA’s opponents on Total Defense was 65 and UF’s was 64.75. I think we have a better chance than most think. Go Gators!

  11. I think Bama is our biggest rival right now. Sure, UGA, FSU and UT are traditional rivals but whenever we play Bama it means something. How many forgettable games have we played against LSU or Auburn, but you never forget a clash with Alabama. Winning this game on Saturday is huge to the team because it will exorcise a lot of demons from December. Plus, it has been a long time since we’ve gone on the road as such heavy underdogs and to beat the number one team in the country would be a historic win in the history of Florida football.

  12. ROBERT, I fully expect us to implement our “50” defensive scheme we used against UT to try and contain the Bama run-game at the LOS with 2 DE’s and 3 DT’s. Our LB’s have to be able to handle the Bama screen plays to Ingram and Richardson though, as that is the Tide’s bread and butter play. Arkie had the right idea, they just didn’t have the athletic tools to run their plan for four quarters. They contain the Bama run-game to the extent where Bama had to rely on the arm of their Qb Greg McElroy, and then he toosed some pics. Problem is, Arkie had no consistent run-game and it’s D had little depth. Those are good sats you presented though, but I also think two stats which will play a big role Saturday night is turnovers and first down defense. We have to win those two battles for the most part in order to win.

  13. HHO and Todd, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

    Roll Tide!

  14. Having successfully overlooked KY, I admit I am swinging the other way about ‘Bama. I’m still having flashbacks from the SEC Champ game. Our DL is pretty stout, but our LBs are young, and this is an incredible road challenge. We could play our best game and still lose. When I daydream about a victory, I have visions of Demps averaging about 7 yards/carry and us winning Time of Possession. We need to keep their offense off the field. Mount Cody is gone, and their DBs can be had. Saban is a great college coach, and I don’t know if we can out-muscle this team. So here’s to luck, a great running game, and a few big breaks (special teams?). GO GATORS.

  15. Roll Tide, how can you be so hypocritical by mentioning God when you are calling others dumb? Go and stay in your Sabanic blog (or should I say Satanic blog) and leave this forum alone which is exclusive for Gators ONLY! We Gators don’t go to your Tide websites.
    The game will be played with a football and not with words.
    GO GATORS!!!

  16. HHO, You have no sense of humor. The whole quote was from the movie Billy Madison. I had to quote it after reading your posts about Saban intentionally having 12 men on the field simply because the penalty would only be 1/2 yard. Are you completely retarded? The officials count players each play. No coach in his right mind would do that. Secondly, as far as your quote, “cheating on the practices of the opposing team in order to win. That’s a known fact.” First off, the wording makes no sense, but if I read between the lines and try and piece it together anyway, where is your proof. Known fact? Finally, Todd, Bama did not go 9.5 games without a holding call. They did have several, but each one was declined. They are superior blockers who are coached to keep their hands in. Holding is not called when the hold happens between the shoulder pads. Every coach knows this and every coach teaches it, so this stuff about Saban Cheating is just for whining losers who get their doors blown off by more powerful teams! Roll Tide!

  17. Even though Saban sucked coaching the “pros” in Miami, he’s the perfect college coach.
    Hearing his post-game comments after last year’s debacle convinced me he’s an incredible motivator!
    Though we despised him for the way he left the Dolphins, I have a whole new respect for him.
    That said, though…
    …ROLL the Tide!

  18. HHO and Todd, you guys are whining. A lot. It seems very “un-Gator-like.” Well, unlike the team anyway. Many in the fan-base whine, complain, and make excuses. This seems especially true for the pre-
    Spurrier era fans, which accounts for probably 98 percent of the occupants of Florida Field on any given Saturday.

  19. gators should feel privileged not only did yall get beat this weekend but if your lucky yall get to get it again in sec shampionship wow wouldnt that be something to get beat by the same team twice in one year