It's rivalry week, which increases fans' vitriol, but it also leaves them nostalgic for the days of old.
Florida-Florida State is one of those rivalry games that didn't really get going until two iconic coaches joined the series. Those would be Steve Spurrier at Florida and Bobby Bowden at Florida State. The 1990s were all about this game, as these two coaches battled both on and off the field with elite teams and endless wars of words.
There were pregame spats, dirty hits, running up of scores and plenty of trash talk to go around when these two met. The bitterness remained during the Gators' dominance under Urban Meyer starting in 2005, and it hasn't left with Jimbo Fisher winning four of the past five against Florida.
Saturday marks just the third time in the past eight years that both teams will be ranked when they face each other. But before we get to Saturday, fellow college football writer Andrea Adelson and I look back at the top 10 moments in this rivalry's history:
1. 1997 -- Florida’s sweet revenge: A little more than a month after losing a 24-21 slobberknocker in Tallahassee, the Gators rebounded for a dominant 52-20 victory in the Sugar Bowl to win the school’s first national championship. Florida piled on 474 yards, 26 first downs and outscored the Seminoles 28-3 in the second half.
2. 1994 -- The Choke at Doak: Fans on both sides will never forget this one. Gators will forever sulk about the fourth quarter from hell, while Noles will revel in one of the greatest ties ever. No. 4 Florida led 31-3 heading into the fourth quarter at Doak Campbell Stadium, only to watch the seventh-ranked Seminoles score four touchdowns in less than 13 minutes for an astonishing 31-31 tie.
3. 1997 -- No. 1 Florida State loses to Florida in the Swamp: Florida had a disappointing season but one last chance to salvage it. As a double-digit underdog at home to the No. 1 Noles, Spurrier decided to alternate quarterbacks Doug Johnson and Noah Brindise on nearly every play. The Seminoles were so flustered they had a hard time adjusting. Florida won 32-29 in what remains one of the best wins in school history.
4. 1993 -- FSU ends Florida's 23-game home winning streak: After No. 1 Florida State built a 27-7 lead, the seventh-ranked Gators cut it to 27-21 in the fourth. Florida seemed charged for the comeback until eventual Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward avoided a sack to hit Warrick Dunn for a 79-yard, game-clinching touchdown that ended Florida’s 23-game win streak at home.
5. 1991 -- No. 5 Florida 14, No. 3 Florida State 9: The significance of this victory cannot be overstated. It was Spurrier's first win in the series as Florida's coach, but it also made the series nationally relevant, as they jockeyed back and forth for bragging rights. Both teams would be ranked in the top 10 for 10 straight meetings after this game.
6. 1994 -- Free Shoes University: Spurrier always enjoyed poking fun at his rivals, so a scandal involving Florida State players going on a shopping spree at Foot Locker gave him the perfect fodder. Spurrier called Florida State “Free Shoes University,” which goes down as one of his all-time most memorable one-liners.
7. 1961 -- “A death in the family”: In one of the scrappiest games in the series, defense, miscues, a ton of option and field goals won the day in a 3-3 tie in the series’s fourth game. For a Florida State team that was 0-3 against the Gators at the time, this felt like a win. Florida coach Ray Graves said it felt like a “death in the family” to tie FSU, giving this game real life.
8. 1998 -- Pregame brawl before Florida State’s 23-12 win: The madness started when Florida decided pregame it wanted to jump on the Seminoles' midfield logo, just as Florida State had. Shoving started, punches were thrown. Johnson threw a football and nearly hit Bowden in the head. Florida starting cornerback Tony George was ejected for swinging at Florida State assistant Odell Haggins.
9. 2008 -- Tebow in the mud: The game was never close, as the eventual national champion Gators embarrassed the Noles 45-15, but there’s more to it. FSU fans cheered wildly after Florida’s Percy Harvin went down with an ankle injury early, enraging Gators quarterback Tim Tebow. He called for the ball and carried several FSU defenders into the end zone two plays later before he wildly celebrated toward FSU’s fans, covered in grass, mud and garnet-colored paint.
10. 2003 -- Rix to Sam: Florida State's Chris Rix threw a 52-yard touchdown pass to P.K. Sam with 55 seconds remaining to beat Florida 38-34. Remember the police dog that tried to bite Sam after he scored? That is the most memorable play for FSU fans, but Florida fans refer to this game as the “Swindle in the Swamp” after several questionable calls went against the Gators. At the end of the game, Florida State players decided to do a little jumping of their own on the Florida midfield logo, and another fight broke out.