The Gators and LSU renew their annual rivalry Saturday at the Swamp and that’s the right word for what it’s become: rivalry.
Even though most Florida has more prominent long-standing rivals like Georgia, Florida State and even over the last 30 years, Tennessee, the recent games with the Bayou Bengals have taken on significance on an SEC and even, the national scale.
Likewise, LSU’s biggest rivals are Ole Miss, who they clobbered last week, and of course, the mighty Alabama Crimson Tide.
Still, there have been some dramatic, hotly-contested and huge national implication games over the last 15 years or so, in the playing of this game.
Take for example the 2007 game in Baton Rouge, where Florida was the defending National Champion but LSU was ranked number one in the country.
A sophomore quarterback by the name of Tim Tebow was gaining all kinds of national fame and LSU fans had obtained his cell phone number, publicized it and sent him hundreds of threatening and harassing voicemail and text messages the week of the game.
Tebow used it as motivation and actually taunted the LSU fans after a touchdown at Tiger Stadium by motioning to the crowd in the endzone to call him by putting his thumb and finger up to his ear. This was part of the Gators building a 10 point fourth quarter lead. Tiger fans would remind everyone that they converted twice on fourth down on the final game winning drive, and scored with an under a minute to go to defeat Florida 28 to 24.
LSU went on to win the BCS National Championship later that year with a decisive win over Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl.
Tebow and the Gators got their revenge the following season, when he threw for two scores and ran for another, as Florida annihilated #4 LSU 51-21 handing them their first loss of the season.
Tebow went on to win the Heisman Trophy and Florida went on to a perfect season beating Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl for the BCS National Championship.
Fast forward to 2015, when the embattled LSU coach Les Miles used this fake field goal in a tie game in the fourth quarter with the Gators
LSU went on to win and improve to 6-0 in that 2015 season. However, they faltered down the stretch and Miles, who was almost fired at the end of 2015, was fired mid-season 2016.
That same year, with Hurricane Matthew bearing down on the east coast of Florida, the Florida-LSU game was postponed after controversy as to where and when it would be played arose. Eventually, it was decided that Florida would give up their home game for that season and play the game at the end of the year in Baton Rouge.
The Gators won the game with a dramatic goal-line stand stopping LSU running back Derrius Guice on 4th and foal in the final seconds clinching the SEC East Division title for the 2016 team.
Because of that Hurricane, Florida will get to host LSU for the second consecutive season at home. And, the Bayou Bengals once again come in undefeated and ranked #5 this time.
And whether it be cell phone messages, fake field goals, or goal line stands, these games have been wild, narrow margin and fun to watch most of the time.
Now, let’s see what happens in the 2018 version.
Gators announced home and home series with Cal Friday
The Florida Gators continued their philosophy of striking “home-and-home” deals with Power 5 opposition, when they announced on Friday that they will be doing so with the Cal-Berkley Bears out of the Pac-12 coming later in this decade.
The Gators made the announcement through their website and social media mid-day Friday that they will play Cal at home first and then travel to Berkeley the following year:
Coast to coast❗
🐻 at 🐊 2026
🐊 at 🐻 2027#GoGators
— Gators Football (@GatorsFB) February 7, 2020
A.D. Scott Stricklin has broken up the long tradition that Florida would only play two home out of conference games in September and usually, against much lesser competition before entering SEC play. Stricklin has been very outspoken that in the age of the College Football Playoff, strength of schedule is emphasized and the selection committee holds schools responsible for not playing top-notch out of conference opponents, at least some of the time.
With that in mind, the Gators opened the 2019 season in Orlando against the Miami Hurricanes and won a sloppy game. And, they already have other Power 5 schools laid out to play home and away.
As we previously wrote, Florida will be playing the Texas Longhorns first in Gainesville in 2030 and then. return the game the following year in Austin.
Florida had previously announced last year that they will also play the Colorado Buffaloes out of the Pac-12, again with the first game in Gainesville in 2028 and then, returning it to Boulder the following season.
It’s interesting with Friday’s announcement that Stricklin and the football program are working backwards with the schedule. And, they will now play Cal before Colorado in September of 2026, and then will be opening on the Berkeley campus the following season.
Florida and Cal have only met two times, having played first in Gainesville in 1974 as the Gators wo 21 – 17 and then, they also met in Tampa to open the 1980 season with a Florida 41-13 blowout victory.
Second National Signing Day recap for top state schools
National Signing Day 2020 has come and gone, and several in state schools were able to improve their classes heading into spring ball. The University of Florida watched rival Georgia secure the number one overall class, but the Gators were still able to land the best class in the state with the number eight class overall.
The Gators officially signed former five-star receiver Justin Shorter from Penn State, and Florida stayed in the family today as well, Xzavier Henderson officially joined the Gators. He’s the ounger brother of former DB C.J. Henderson.
Dan Mullen also able to dip into the state of Texas inking four-star DE Princely Umanmielen. It wasn’t all great news for the Gators, as they missed out on a few key guys, including losing out on arguably top state safety Avantae Williams to in state rival Miami. Overall it was a good cycle for the Gators both recruiting and in the transfer portal.
The Miami Hurricanes continued an impressive offseason on National Signing Day. The Canes made arguably the biggest move in the state by landing Williams and keeping him Florida. Williams became the highest rated Hurricane in the class and propelled the U to the number 13 spot.
Miami has the second-best class in the ACC behind Clemson. With an impressive offseason in the books, once again excitement will be in the air in Coral Gables. The question is: will they live up to it in year two for Manny Diaz?
Florida State and new coach Mike Norvell have been working hard to get this class rolling last minute. After a good early National Signing Day Norvell looked to keep the momentum going. The Noles took a big hit Wednesday though, with the loss of Venice four star WR, Malachi Wideman, who flipped to Tennessee.
The Noles came back from that by landing a handful of other recruits. They got the number six Juco running back La’Damian Webb, ass well as, Robert Scott, an offensive lineman and Corey Wren, an athlete/running back.
Replacing Cam Akers will be tough for Norvell and building the offensive line is a top priority. The former Memphis coach came in late like he did, yet he finishes with a decent class sitting at 22 on 24/7.
Now the work begins turning around the former powerhouse.