The 1997 Sugar Bowl was the 63rd edition to the annual Sugar Bowl game and served as the Bowl Alliance's designated national championship game. It featured the top-ranked Florida State Seminoles, and their heated rivals, the third ranked Florida Gators, whom the Seminoles had already defeated 24–21 in the final game of the regular season. Florida defeated Florida State in their Sugar Bowl rematch in convincing fashion, with a final score of 52–20, and with the victory, earned its first-ever consensus national championship.
The Gators were led by their Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, Danny Wuerffel who threw three touchdown passes to Ike Hilliard and ran for another score. Wuerffel became the second Heisman Trophy-winner in four years to win a national championship, following Charlie Ward of Florida State in 1993.
Third-ranked Florida was invited to the Bowl Alliance's designated national championship game for the 1996-97 season because the Pac-10 Conference was contractually obligated to play in the Rose Bowl, and unavailable to participate in the Bowl Alliance. As a result, the second-ranked Pac-10 champion, Arizona State, played the fourth-ranked Big Ten champion, Ohio State, in the Rose Bowl. With the Sugar Bowl win over Florida State, Florida was assured of winning the consensus national championship when Ohio State defeated second-ranked Arizona State in the Rose Bowl.