1990 Florida Gators football team

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1990 Florida Gators football
Conference Southeastern Conference
AP No. 13
1990 record 9–2 (6–1 SEC)
Head coach Steve Spurrier (1st season)
Defensive coordinator Jim Bates (1st season)
Captain Chris Bromley
Ernie Mills
Godfrey Myles
Glenn Neely
Huey Richardson
Home stadium Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
← 1989
1991 →
1990 SEC football standings
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
No. 13 Florida 6 1 0     9 2 0
No. 8 Tennessee $ 5 1 1     9 2 2
No. 21 Ole Miss 5 2 0     9 3 0
Alabama 5 2 0     7 5 0
No. 19 Auburn 4 2 1     8 3 1
Kentucky 3 4 0     4 7 0
LSU 2 5 0     5 6 0
Georgia 2 5 0     4 7 0
Mississippi State 1 6 0     5 6 0
Vanderbilt 1 6 0     1 10 0
  • $ – Conference champion
  • Florida ineligible for SEC championship due to NCAA probation.
Rankings from AP Poll

The 1990 Florida Gators football team represented the University of Florida during the 1990 NCAA Division I-A football season. The season marked the return of the Gators' Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Steve Spurrier to his alma mater as the new head coach of the Florida Gators football team.[1]

Spurrier's 1990 Florida Gators, while ineligible to win the SEC title or receive a bowl bid because of lingering NCAA probation,[2] nevertheless posted a best-in-the-SEC record of 6–1 and an overall record of 9–2,[3] and laid the foundation for the Gators' run of six SEC championships and a national title during the next decade.[1] They finished thirteenth in the season's final AP Poll.

Before the season[edit]

Just before Spurrier's Gator coaching debut, the Gainesville campus was rocked by the murders committed by Danny Rolling.[4]

During Spurrier's first season, he was able to build on the strong talent recruited by departing Gators coach Galen Hall, but the Gators also reaped the benefits of Spurrier's "there are no excuses for losing" mantra.[2] Even as Spurrier's new "fun 'n' gun" offensive scheme led by quarterback Shane Matthews, wide receiver Ernie Mills and tight end Kirk Kirkpatrick was breaking team scoring and yardage records, defensive coordinator Jim Bates coached one of the best defensive squads in team history, including two first-team All-Americans, defensive end Huey Richardson and safety Will White.[2][3]


Date Opponent# Rank# Site TV Result Attendance
September 8 Oklahoma State* Ben Hill Griffin StadiumGainesville, FL W 50–7   75,428
September 15 Alabama No. 24 Bryant–Denny StadiumTuscaloosa, AL TBS W 17–13   70,123
September 22 Furman* No. 19 Ben Hill Griffin Stadium • Gainesville, Florida W 27–3   71,868
September 29 Mississippi State No. 17 Ben Hill Griffin Stadium • Gainesville, FL TBS W 34–21   72,943
October 6 LSU No. 10 Ben Hill Griffin Stadium • Gainesville, FL ESPN W 34–8   75,039
October 13 No. 5 Tennessee No. 9 Neyland StadiumKnoxville, TN ESPN L 3–45   96,874
October 20 Akron*dagger No. 17 Ben Hill Griffin Stadium • Gainesville, FL W 59–0   74,558
November 3 No. 4 Auburn No. 15 Ben Hill Griffin Stadium • Gainesville, FL ESPN W 48–7   75,459
November 10 Georgia No. 10 Gator BowlJacksonville, FL TBS W 38–7   81,529
November 17 Kentucky No. 6 Commonwealth StadiumLexington, KY TBS W 47–15   55,140
December 1 No. 8 Florida State* No. 6 Doak Campbell StadiumTallahassee, FL ESPN L 30–45   63,190
*Non-conference game. daggerHomecoming. #Rankings from AP Poll released prior to game.

Primary source: 2015 Florida Gators Football Media Guide.[3]

Game summaries[edit]

Oklahoma State[edit]

1 2 3 4 Total
Oklahoma State 0 7 0 0 7
Florida 14 12 14 10 50

Combating the gloom, the Gators opened the season with a no-huddle, 80-yard touchdown drive in six plays to defeat the Oklahoma State Cowboys 50–7.[5]


In their second game, the Gators came from behind to beat Alabama, a confidence-building, 17–13 signature road win, which set the tone for the remainder of the season,.[2] Spurrier treasured the wins against the Crimson Tide: "Those victories early – '90, '91 – really got us started there at Florida ..."[6] Alabama quarterback Gary Hollingsworth threw three interceptions to Florida safety Will White, and the Gators scored the winning touchdown on a blocked punt.[7]


Florida then beat Furman 27–3.

Mississippi State[edit]

Building on the Alabama win, the Gators had a 34–21 conference victory over the Mississippi State Bulldogs.


Next, the Gators blew out the LSU Tigers 34–8.


The Gators suffered a disappointing 3–45 road loss to the fifth-ranked Tennessee Volunteers in Knoxville, Tennessee. In yet another link between the programs, Spurrier had been a star quarterback at Science Hill High School in Johnson City, Tennessee during the early 1960s. Although Knoxville is nearby, he did not seriously consider attending UT because he was an excellent passer and the Vols ran a single-wing offense at the time which featured a running quarterback.[8] Instead, he choose to return to the state of his birth (Spurrier was born in Miami Beach[9]), eventually becoming the Gators' first Heisman Trophy winner in 1966.

Spurrier's first Gator squad was 5–0 and ranked No. 9 coming into the matchup with Johnny Majors' 3–0–2 and No. 5 Vols, marking the first time in series history that both rivals were ranked in the AP top-10 when they faced off. (It was not Spurrier’s first visit to Knoxville as an opposing coach; his 1988 Duke Blue Devils had upset the Vols 31–26.[10])

The 1990 game began as a defensive struggle, with UT holding a slim 7–3 lead at the half. However, the Vols' Dale Carter returned the second half kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown, igniting the home crowd at Neyland Stadium.[11]

On their ensuing possession, the Gators fumbled for what would be the first of six UF turnovers in the second half. The opportunistic Vols took full advantage, turning Spurrier’s homecoming (and, coincidentally, UT's homecoming game) into a dominating 45–3 rout, the largest margin of victory for either team in the series.[12]


Florida blanked Akron 59–0.


Coach Pat Dye's 1990 Auburn Tigers were the defending three-time SEC champions, had built an undefeated 6−0−1 record, and were ranked fourth in the nation in the AP Poll.[13] Notwithstanding the fact that first-year coach Steve Spurrier's fifteenth-ranked Gators were three-point favorites,[13] Dye had been publicly dismissive of Spurrier's pass-oriented offense before the game. The Gators and Tigers were tied 7–7 after the first quarter, but Spurrier's Gators exploded for twenty-seven points in the second quarter, resulting in a 34–7 halftime lead and a 48–7 victory for the Gators, which was the Gators' biggest margin of victory in the series, and the worst loss of Dye's career.[14]


1 2 3 4 Total
Georgia 7 0 0 0 7
Florida 14 10 14 0 38

Florida's first win against Georgia since 1986, the Gators beat the Bulldogs 38–7 .[15]


Florida beat the Kentucky Wildcats 47–15.

Florida State[edit]

Florida was defeated by the eighth-ranked Florida State Seminoles 30–45 in Tallahassee, Florida.


Matthews finished the season with 2,952 passing yards and twenty-three touchdowns—then the most passing yards in Gators history.[2] He was SEC Player of the Year.[16]

Before Spurrier returned to Gainesville, the Gators had never won an officially sanctioned Southeastern Conference (SEC) or national football championship (Florida's first SEC championship was in 1984, but was retroactively vacated by the SEC for infractions incurred by former head coach Charley Pell). Before Spurrier resigned to seek a coaching position in the National Football League in January 2002, the Gators would win six SEC titles, play for two national championships, and win one in 1996.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Norm Carlson, University of Florida Football Vault: The History of the Florida Gators, Whitman Publishing, LLC, Atlanta, Georgia, pp. 104–126 (2007).
  2. ^ a b c d e Carlson, University of Florida Football Vault, pp. 105–109.
  3. ^ a b c 2015 Florida Gators Football Media Guide Archived 2015-12-08 at the Wayback Machine., University Athletic Association, Gainesville, Florida, pp. 112–113 (2015). Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  4. ^ Pat Dooley. "When UF's Summer of Steve collided with terror". 
  5. ^ "Spurrier Debut a Doozy: 50-7." Gainesville Sun. King, Bill. 1990 Sept 9.
  6. ^ "Steve Spurrier says early '90s wins over Alabama 'got us started there at Florida'". AL.com. 
  7. ^ "Loaded For Bear", S. Looney, Douglas. Sports Illustrated, September 24, 1990
  8. ^ “The Spurrier Sweepstakes” – The Lakeland Ledger, Nov. 12, 1996
  9. ^ Spurrier bio, St. Pete Times
  10. ^ Duke Game by Game Results
  11. ^ “Gators Seeking Special Play from Special Teams” – The Gainesville Sun, October 11, 1991
  12. ^ "Tennessee Domination Was Total", The Gainesville Sun, October 14, 1990
  13. ^ a b Associated Press, "College Football: South; Auburn Routed for First Loss," The New York Times (November 4, 1990). Retrieved August 16, 2011.
  14. ^ Gregg Dewalt, "Gators maul Tigers," Times Daily, pp. 1B & 6B (November 4, 1990). Retrieved August 16, 2011.
  15. ^ "Gators Pound 'Dawgs, 38-7." King, Bill. Gainesville Sun. 1990 Nov 11.
  16. ^ "SEC Player of the Year Winners". College Football at Sports-Reference.com.