Sometimes, it's not about the outcome, or the moments, or the players. Sometimes it's just the journey that matters. Florida's 31-17 win over Tennessee last September was a journey unto itself.
I called it The Tyler Murphy Game when writing about it the Sunday after Murphy helped lead Florida past the Vols for the ninth straight year, and I wrote about "surviving" Tennessee the day of the game, and I wrote about how Murphy compared to Jeff Driskel that week and then ad nauseam, but I don't think I ever really captured how much fun that game was ... in the second half, anyway.
The first half was an atrocity. Florida played poorly on offense and like hellbeasts on defense, and Butch Jones threw freshman Nathan Peterman to that defense in the first half, only for him to get chewed up. Very little about that first half was aesthetically appealing, and what was appealing must have appealed largely to sadists.
But the second half was mostly more of the same on defense and a slightly more competent Murphy figuring out how to make his low-key magic happen. And that was genuinely fun: Murphy had the crowd behind him, because the crowd figured it needed to be, and he rewarded them by running around, displaying a sixth sense for pressure that had been missing for years in practice, and finding Solomon Patton for a catch-and-run touchdown that felt like a breakthrough.
And the day was special because it was Dominique Easley's last game as a Gator — only we didn't realize that was farewell. Not only did he completely overwhelm Tennessee all day, he managed to trip up Darious Cummings on a likely fat man touchdown, and smiled at Peterman — the target of "There's still time, Peterman!" chants late in the game that may or may not have emanated from me and my friends — while charging him.
A great many rotten things happened to Florida football last fall, not least of which was the hope of this win evaporating over the days that followed it. But the reason for that was the most important and devastating blow to the Gators, Easley's body robbing him of a full finale in what might have been the most extraordinary season a Florida defender has ever had.
He was felled too soon, but his final note in a Florida uniform was one of his finest games.
And, also, Florida won this football game. The rarity of that — there are no other football games on this list — helped The Tyler Murphy Game and A Farewell to Ease take No. 10 on our countdown.