The Florida Gators and Florida State Seminoles lock up every Thanksgiving weekend in one of college football’s most heated and storied rivalries. The two programs have faced 57 times — why not a 58th with BCS era supremacy at stake in the SaturdayBlitz.com Sweet 16?
The two did actually face one another with the national championship at stake. Their 1997 Sugar Bowl encounter was an immediate rematch, and one of the driving forces behind a shift in the determination of champions.
Bobby Bowden’s legendary era wound down shortly after his final championship-winning team in the 1999 season, but amid that campaign’s run the Seminoles were still at the pinnacle of college football. Just look at the talent on the Florida State defense: Jamal Reynolds, Tommy Polley, Tony Benford, Brian Allen and Corey Simon all recorded at least three sacks; and Derrick Gibson, Chris Hope and Clevan Thomas combined for 11 interceptions.
The Seminoles allowed an opponent into the 30s just once, giving up 35 points to Georgia Tech early in the season. It’s worth noting Yellow Jacket quarterback Joe Hamilton was second in the Heisman voting that year, and a strong case that he deserved the award can be made.
Florida’s 2006 BCS championship-winning team didn’t slouch on the defensive end, either. The Gators allowed just 13.5 points per game, No. 6 in the FBS. Teams only broke the 20-point barrier three times on Florida, the high mark coming via Arkansas’ 28 in the SEC championship. Derrick Harvey was an unblockable monster that campaign, recording 11 sacks. Jarvis Moss brought another 7.5 sacks and forced four fumbles.
Offensively, Florida was in its second season under Urban Meyer’s version of the spread offense and still gaining its comfort. Tim Tebow was a freshman and yet to become the college football legend and over-exposed NFL back-up he is now. As much as revisionists pushing the Tebowgenda would like you to believe he led the 2006 Gator offense, he didn’t — that was senior Chris Leak — but Tebow did have an integral role as a goal-line carrier, akin to current Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Blake Bell.
Captaining the 1999 Florida State offense was quarterback Chris Weinke, winner of the Heisman Trophy a season later. Weinke completed 61.5 percent of his pass attempts for 3103 yards and 25 touchdowns, most of which were to wide receiver Peter Warrick. Among Warrick’s supporting cast that season was a freshman named Anquan Boldin, who turned out to be pretty good later in his career.
Coincidentally, a bonafide star of that Seminole team was its kicker. Sebastian Janikowski won the Lou Groza Award behind a 45-45 extra-point kicking campaign, with another 23 field goals.
Cast your ballot below and sound off in the comments section. Be sure to check out the other match-ups, as well.
BCS Sweet 16 Round One: Who Advances?
- 1999 Florida State Seminoles (89%, 149 Votes)
- 2006 Florida Gators (11%, 18 Votes)
Total Voters: 167