GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Last year’s Florida-Tennessee matchup produced one of the best games in the history of the rivalry.
Trailing 27-14 in the fourth quarter, the Gators put together a pair of scoring drives and took the lead on a 63-yard touchdown catch by Antonio Callaway on fourth-and-14.
The Vols got into field goal range on their last drive, but kicker Aaron Medley barely missed his 56-yard attempt on the game’s final play.
It was a dramatic 28-27 comeback victory for Florida, but ultimately did not lead to an SEC championship. The greatest games in this rivalry usually resulted in a conference title for the winner.
Here are the top 5:
5) 2006: Florida 21, Tennessee 20
The Gators found themselves trailing 20-14 in the fourth quarter following a 51-yard field by James Wilhoit. Tennessee’s lead could have been larger, but linebacker Marvin Mitchell’s pick-six was nullified by a roughing the passer penalty. Florida quarterback Chris Leak made the go-ahead scoring play with a 21-yard strike to Dallas Baker, one of his three touchdowns passes. The Gators held Tennessee to -11 yards rushing, and the road win launched them to an SEC championship and national title in Urban Meyer’s second season.
4) 1996: Florida 35, Tennessee 29
After a 62-37 beatdown in Gainesville the year prior, the No. 2 Vols played host to fourth-ranked Florida. The Gators set the tone on their first drive, with eventual Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerrfel throwing a 35-yard TD to Reidel Anthony on fourth-and-10. UF ran out to a 35-0 lead in the first 21 minutes, but the Vols stormed back as QB Peyton Manning threw for 492 yards and four scores. His efforts weren’t enough, and Florida would go to win the program’s fourth consecutive conference crown and first ever national championship.
3) 2001: Tennessee 34, Florida 32
This was the regular season finale for both teams after the game was postponed because of the September 11 attacks. The No. 2 Gators their sights set on a national title, but sixth-ranked Tennessee ruined those plans despite being heavy underdogs. Behind 226 rushing yards from Travis Stephens, the Vols upset Florida following Rex Grossman’s failed two-point pass attempt for their first win in Gainesville in 30 years. Neither team won a championship that year, but Tennessee handed Steve Spurrier a loss in what would be his last — and most devastating — home game at UF.
2) 1998: Tennessee 20, Florida 17 (OT)
For the Vols to have success under Phillip Fulmer, he had to get over the hump and beat Florida after five consecutive losses. It finally happened in 1998 despite losing Manning and other star players to the NFL. Led by new quarterback Tee Martin and a strong defense, Tennessee held the No. 2 Gators to -30 yards rushing and recovered four fumbles to keep the score tied at halftime and the end of regulation. In the only overtime game of the series, the Vols prevailed thanks to Collin Cooper’s missed kick. They won the school’s sixth — and last — national championship that season.
1) 2000: Florida 27, Tennessee 23
In Spurrier’s final trip to Knoxville as Florida’s HBC, he turned Rocky Top upside down. The game was a defensive battle in the first half, with UF scoring just one touchdown and Tennessee settling for four field goals. Trailing 23-20, the Gators got the ball back with 91 yards to go and less than two minutes remaining. But quarterback Jesse Palmer led them on a game-winning drive that ended with a 3-yard pass to Jabar Gaffney. He made “The Catch” in the end zone and the refs ruled it a touchdown despite the ball being slapping out of his hands. The controversial call, still debated to this day, led to Florida’s first SEC title in four years.