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Revisiting The Rivalry: The 1994-97 Games

I have to admit, as a child of New York I say `footbull' and `Flarida'. And as a kid, I rarely watched college football. That began to change when I was about 10 years old and Danny Wuerffel started slinging touchdowns in Hogtown.

This was also when the Florida-Tennessee rivalry began to heat up. In 1993 as a freshman, Wuerffel led UF to a 41-34 win, besting the Vols' Heath Schuler. Then in 1994, the Gators pounded Tennessee 31-0 in Knoxville. Late in the game, Peyton Manning replaced an injured Todd Helton (who ended up being a better first baseman), and the rivalry suddenly had a new story line.

Up until the most recent Super Bowl, Peyton Manning rarely won on the biggest stage. (Exceptions being the AFC and 1997 SEC title games.) That belief started in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium as Wuerffel made the cover of Sports Illustrated, and the Gators dominated late to win 62-37 in 1995. In 1996, with both teams in the top-five, UF held on to win 35-29.

Then in '97, Manning had his last shot at defeating UF. SI again featured the game on their cover, this time with a cartoon of Manning trying to wrestle an alligator. But Fred Taylor introduced himself to the conference as Florida controlled the ground in a 33-20 win.

Tomorrow, the 2003 and 2004 games.