When A-Train was just a wee lad he got really into college football. It was the mid-1990’s and the National Championship ran through the state of Florida. The Annual Florida – Florida State Game was a lock to have national championship implications. The question wasn’t “would these teams be ranked?” when they played, but “how high?” would they be ranked.
I don’t know why but I really liked both of these teams. I had a Danny Wuerfell #7 jersey and a Warrick Dunn #28. What I loved about the Gators was that they played in “The Swamp” Steve Spurrier was the coach, and he loved to spread the ball around. They had Fred Jackson at tailback and the Orange & Blue color scheme was dope as hell.
The thing I liked about the Seminoles was the pageantry inside the stadium, the flaming spear, the warchant, the relentless defense. I loved The Program, a movie that was obviously loosely based on FSU.
In the end, my love of Spurrier and the Gators won out. It isn’t really possible to be a fan of both teams. One of my earliest memories of college football was watching “The Choke at Doak” a game in which the Gators gave up a 31-3 lead that ended in a 31-31 tie. (Kids ask your grandparents about tie games in college football.)
One of my best memories was watching the Gators get revenge on the Seminoles in the National Championship and run them out of the Sugar Bowl. (It was a super revenge game, revenging both a loss that season to FSU & the loss in the national title the previous year. (Nebraska with Frazier and Phillips ran them out of the Fiesta Bowl)
When I see that this game now features two unranked teams and gets a 9am kickoff pacific time, I get a little bit sad. I get a little angry. Between 1993 and 2000 the winner of the “Sunshine Showdown” would go on to compete in the National Championship game. Now we are lucky if the game matters at all.
Parody in college football changed the rivalry for good. FSU used to almost never lose an ACC game, their biggest test was always outside conference vs The Gators (SEC) and the University of Miami. (Big East at the time). At the same time, The Gators had a stranglehold on the SEC. Spurrier leaving changed all that. Even Under Urban Meyer, the Gators would never dominate the conference like they did in the 1990’s.
It’s not all bad, I think these will be two of the most improved teams in college football NEXT year. As for 2017, this game is only interesting if you are gonna bet on it. The Gators are 5.5 point underdogs at home in case you’re wondering. It’s crazy to think that the South Florida – UCF game is the more marquee matchup in Florida this holiday weekend. I’d say the ‘Noles win and cover, but they have let me down all season in the gambling department so screw ’em. Go Gators.