1995 Florida Gators football team

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1995 Florida Gators football
SEC champion
Fiesta Bowl, L 24–62 vs. Nebraska
Conference Southeastern Conference Eastern Division
Ranking
Coaches No. 3
AP No. 2
1995 record 12–1 (8–0 1st SEC)
Head coach Steve Spurrier
Defensive coordinator Bob Pruett
Captain
Home stadium Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
Seasons
« 1994 1996 »
1995 SEC football standings
Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
Eastern Division
#2 Florida x$ 8 0 0     12 1 0
#3 Tennessee 7 1 0     11 1 0
Georgia 3 5 0     6 6 0
South Carolina 2 5 1     4 6 1
Kentucky 2 6 0     4 7 0
Vanderbilt 1 7 0     2 9 0
Western Division
Arkansas x 6 2 0     8 5 0
#21 Alabama 5 3 0     8 3 0
#22 Auburn 5 3 0     8 4 0
LSU 4 3 1     7 4 1
Ole Miss 3 5 0     6 5 0
Mississippi State 1 7 0     3 8 0
Championship: Florida 34, Arkansas 3
  • $ – Conference champion
  • x – Division champion/co-champions
Rankings from AP Poll

The 1995 Florida Gators football team represented the University of Florida in the sport of American football during the 1995 college football season. The 1995 season was the Florida Gators' sixth year under head coach Steve Spurrier and was one of the most successful in school history, as the Gators finished the regular season unbeaten and untied for the first time (the 1911 team went 5–0–1). Led by Heisman Trophy finalist quarterback Danny Wuerffel, the offense set many school and conference offensive records, including passing touchdowns, passing yards per game, total yards per game, and points per game, among others.[1]

After finishing the regular season 12–0 (8–0 in the SEC), Florida defeated the Arkansas Razorbacks 34–3 in the 1995 SEC Championship Game. As the No. 2 ranked team, the Gators were invited to play in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl, which was the Bowl Alliance national championship game. In Tempe, Florida lost 24–62 to the No. 1 ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers but remained No. 2 in the final AP poll.

Before the season[edit]

Prior to the season, the old grass was replaced with turf.[2]

Schedule and results[edit]

Date Opponent# Rank# Site TV Result Attendance
9–2–1995 Houston* No. 5 Ben Hill Griffin StadiumGainesville, FL W 45–21   84,672
9–9–1995 Kentucky No. 5 Commonwealth StadiumLexington, KY W 42–7   53,524
9–16–1995 No. 8 Tennessee No. 4 Ben Hill Griffin Stadium • Gainesville, FL ABC W 62–37   85,105
9–30–1995 Mississippi No. 3 Ben Hill Griffin Stadium • Gainesville, FL W 28–10   85,174
10–7–1995 No. 21 Louisiana State No. 3 Tiger StadiumBaton Rouge, LA JPS W 28–10   80,583
10–14–1995 No. 7 Auburn No. 3 Jordan-Hare StadiumAuburn, AL ABC W 49–38   85,214
10–28–1995 Georgia No. 3 Sanford StadiumAthens, GA ABC W 52–17   86,117
11–4–1995 Northern Illinois* No. 3 Ben Hill Griffin Stadium • Gainesville, FL W 58–20   84,922
11–11–1995 South Carolina No. 3 Williams-Brice StadiumColumbia, SC ESPN W 63–7   71,638
11–18–1995 Vanderbilt No. 3 Ben Hill Griffin Stadium • Gainesville, FL JPS W 38–7   85,248
11–25–1995 No. 6 Florida State* No. 3 Ben Hill Griffin Stadium • Gainesville, FL ABC W 35–24   85,711
12–2–1995 No. 23 Arkansas No. 2 Georgia DomeAtlanta, GA (SEC Championship) ABC W 34–3   71,324
1–2–1996 No. 1 Nebraska* No. 2 Sun Devil StadiumTempe, AZ (Fiesta Bowl) CBS L 24–62   79,864
*Non-conference game. #Rankings from AP Poll released prior to game.

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

Season summary[edit]

Houston[edit]

Houston vs #5 Florida
1 2 3 4 Total
Houston 14 0 7 0 21
Florida 14 21 7 3 45

In the opener, Florida beat the Houston Cougars 45 to 21. The pass defense was suspect, surrendering 421 yards.[4][5][6]

Kentucky[edit]

#5 Florida at Kentucky
1 2 3 4 Total
Florida 14 14 14 0 42
Kentucky 0 0 0 7 7

The Gators easily beat the Kentucky Wildcats 42 to 7.[7][8]

Tennessee[edit]

#8 Tennessee at #4 Florida
1 2 3 4 Total
Tennessee 23 7 0 7 37
Florida 7 14 20 21 62

On the first play from scrimmage, Manning connected with receiver Joey Kent for a 72-yard gain. On the next play, Manning threw a touchdown pass to Marcus Nash, giving UT a 7–0 lead only 15 seconds into the game.[9] After another Manning touchdown pass and two Gator turnovers, the Vols held a 30–14 advantage late in the second quarter in front of a stunned Florida Field crowd.[10]

Sports Illustrated put Wuerffel on its cover instead of Manning.

Wuerffel led the Gators to an answering score, cutting the lead to 30–21 with a touchdown pass in the last minute of the first half. That would be the beginning of a historic run, as Florida scored 48 straight points despite a torrential second half downpour and won in a 62–37 rout. Many records were broken in the game: Wuerffel threw an SEC record six touchdown passes; Tennessee set school records for most points scored in a loss and most points given up in the modern era.[9][10] After the game, Sports Illustrated chose to put Wuerffel on its cover instead of Manning.[11] Florida and Tennessee closed the season ranked #2 and #3, respectively.

Ole Miss[edit]

Ole Miss at #3 Florida
1 2 3 4 Total
Ole Miss 3 0 7 0 10
Florida 14 7 7 0 28

The next week was a lackluster performance versus Ole Miss, involving just 59 offensive plays, though a 28–10 win.[12]

Florida's first touchdown came with a 42-yard reverse run by Jacquez Green on a 4th-and-2.[13] On Florida's next possession, Green went up against two defenders and snatched a pass for a 40-yard gain, setting up a 13-yard touchdown pass from Wuerffel to Ike Hilliard. An 8-yard pass to Chris Doering was his 101st career catch and gave Florida a 21–3 cushion early in the second quarter.[13]

LSU[edit]

#3 Florida at #21 LSU
1 2 3 4 Total
Florida 7 14 7 0 28
LSU 0 10 0 0 10

The Gators mixed in the option into its normal offense against LSU and its eight-man front.[14][15] Wuerffel called it one of his worst games, and threw three interceptions in the first half.[16]

On the Gators' third possession, a crucial first down was had by an option pitch to Elijah Williams. Later on that same drive, the Gators scored on a third-and-goal from inside the 5-yard line using the same play to go up 7–0.[14] Fred Taylor had short runs for two more touchdowns. LSU's offense seemed to come awake shortly before the half, scoring its 10 points quickly.[14] LSU's touchdown came on a touchdown pass to defensive tackle Anthony McFarland. Florida scored its final touchdown on a 21-yard pass from Wuerffel to Reidel Anthony.[17]

Auburn[edit]

#3 Florida at #7 Auburn
1 2 3 4 Total
Florida 14 21 7 7 49
Auburn 13 7 6 12 38

Florida committed two turnovers early against the Auburn Tigers,[18] which led 10–0 three minutes into the game.[19] Florida would win 49 to 38, the first time Spurrier defeated Auburn coach Terry Bowden.[20]

The game stayed close throughout the first half. After the early, 10–0 Auburn lead, Reidel Anthony returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown.[20] Auburn added a field goal, and passes to Jacquez Green set up a Fred Taylor touchdown run to give Florida its first lead of the game, 14–13. Auburn then retook the lead, 20–14; and after a short touchdown run by Elijah Williams, it was 21–20 at the half.

Wuerffel threw a touchdown pass to Ike Hilliard and two to Chris Doering such that early in the third quarter it was already 42–20.[18] One more touchdown was had by Doering. Auburn scored thrice more since the half, each time failing on a two-point conversion. The Tigers' last score came on a long run by Stephen Davis.[21]

Georgia[edit]

#3 Florida at Georgia
1 2 3 4 Total
Florida 21 7 10 14 52
Georgia 0 3 0 14 17

Florida beat the Bulldogs 52–17,[22] becoming the first visitor in Sanford Stadium history to score more than 50 points.[23]

Florida was ahead 21–0 less than 12 minutes into the contest. Gators starting quarterback Danny Wuerffel threw for 242 yards and five touchdowns before leaving the game in the third quarter.[24] "Danny Wuerffel was near perfect in the game," Spurrier said. "He only had one bad throw."[23] With the Gators leading 38–17 in the fourth quarter, Gators backup quarterback Eric Kresser threw for two more touchdowns, one with 1:21 remaining, to make the final score 52–17.[24] After the game, Gators coach Steve Spurrier stated that he had wanted to be the first opponent to hang "half a hundred" on the Bulldogs in their own stadium because "we heard no one had ever done that before."[25][26] The Gators' fifty-two points remains the record for most scored against Georgia "between the hedges."[27]

Northern Illinois[edit]

Northern Illinois vs. #3 Florida
1 2 3 4 Total
Northern Illinois 6 0 6 8 20
Florida 17 20 14 7 58

Eric Kresser played in the Northern Illinois game, a 58–20 defeat.[28][29]

South Carolina[edit]

#3 Florida at South Carolina
1 2 3 4 Total
Florida 14 28 7 14 63
South Carolina 0 7 0 0 7

Wuerffel threw for five touchdowns in the first half as Florida clinched the SEC East title with a crushing 63–7 win over South Carolina.[30]

Vanderbilt[edit]

Vanderbilt vs. #3 Florida
1 2 3 4 Total
Vanderbilt 0 0 0 7 7
Florida 7 10 14 7 38

Chris Doering was named SEC Offensive Player of the Week in the 38 to 7 win over Vanderbilt.[31] In the second half, Vanderbilt wide receiver Fred Baker and Florida nickelback Ben Hanks were both ejected for fighting.[32]

Florida State[edit]

#6 Florida State at #3 Florida
1 2 3 4 Total
Florida State 6 0 18 0 24
Florida 7 21 7 0 35

Danny Wuerffel threw for 453 yards and four touchdowns as Florida held off a second-half rally by Florida State and erased the memories of the "Choke at Doak" from the previous season.[33] A 42-yard pass to Ike Hilliard, who evaded multiple defenders on the run after the catch, made it 21–6. The Gators intercepted the Noles three times in the last quarter.

SEC Championship: vs. Arkansas[edit]

#23 Arkansas vs. #2 Florida
1 2 3 4 Total
Arkansas 3 0 0 0 3
Florida 14 3 14 3 34

The Gators faced the Arkansas Razorbacks in the SEC Championship Game. The Razorbacks led 3-0 after a long, game-opening drive on which tailback Madre Hill suffered a knee injury. Following the 36-yard field goal for Arkansas, Florida drove 80 yards in seven plays, with Wuerffel completing a 22-yard touchdown pass to Chris Doering.[34] The Gators never looked back, scoring 34 unanswered points.[35]

National Championship: vs. Nebraska[edit]

#2 Florida vs. #1 Nebraska
1 2 3 4 Total
Florida 10 0 8 6 24
Nebraska 6 29 14 13 62

The Gators faced #1 ranked Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl for the Bowl Alliance national championship. Florida received the opening kickoff and drove to the Nebraska 5, before settling for a 23-yard Bart Edmiston field goal. Aided by good field position, the Huskers countered on their opening series with a 53-yard scoring drive, capped by a 16-yard cross-field throwback pass from Tommie Frazier to Lawrence Phillips. The Gators blocked the Huskers' extra point, and Nebraska led 6–3. Late in the period, Florida went back ahead on a short 1-yard sneak from Wuerffel and led 10–6. As the Gators scored, CBS' Terry Donahue stated, "Nebraska better not get too far behind." The Huskers then put the game out of reach with a 29-point explosion in the second quarter, making it 35–10 at the half. Florida continued to struggle against Nebraska's aggressive, blitzing defense. In the third period, on second down from the Nebraska 25, Cornhuskers quarterback Frazier ran an option play to the right, and decided to keep the ball rather than pitch. He gained 11 yards before being met by a group of Florida defenders at the 36-yard line, which he then dragged approximately 10 yards before shrugging them off and breaking free, streaking 75 yards down the sideline to give Nebraska a 49–18 lead. Frazier had broken no less than seven tackles on the play. The game ended 62 to 24.

For much of the summer of 1995, a common joke on ESPN was "Hey Gators, Nebraska just scored again." The Gators would use the Fiesta Bowl rout as a rallying point for the 1996 season, in which they won the first national championship in school history.[36] The 1995 Nebraska squad has been voted as the greatest college football team of all-time in many surveys, including the all-time Sagarin ratings.[37] An ESPN poll has them at #3, only behind the 1971 Huskers and 1972 USC Trojans.[38]

References[edit]

  1. ^ SEC Record book
  2. ^ "Gainesville Sun - Google News Archive Search". 
  3. ^ 2015 Florida Gators Football Media Guide, University Athletic Association, Gainesville, Florida, pp. 112–113 (2015). Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  4. ^ "COLLEGE FOOTBALL : Gators Win, but Spurrier Not Happy : Nonconference: Coach criticizes pass defense after Florida's 45-21 victory over Houston.". latimes. 
  5. ^ "Ocala Star-Banner - Google News Archive Search". 
  6. ^ "Ocala Star-Banner - Google News Archive Search". 
  7. ^ "No. 5 Florida 42, Kentucky 7". 
  8. ^ "Ocala Star-Banner - Google News Archive Search". 
  9. ^ a b "For Gators, It's the Last 30 Minutes That Count". The New York Times. 17 September 1995. 
  10. ^ a b "Gainesville Sun - Google News Archive Search". 
  11. ^ "No Respect". tribunedigital-orlandosentinel. 
  12. ^ "COLLEGE FOOTBALL : Florida Wins in a Hurry : SEC: No. 3 Gators need only 2 hours 45 minutes and eight possessions to beat Mississippi, 28-10.". latimes. 
  13. ^ a b "Ocala Star-Banner - Google News Archive Search". 
  14. ^ a b c "Wuerffel Forced To Run, Then Pass". tribunedigital-orlandosentinel. 
  15. ^ "FLorida vs. LSU". tribunedigital-orlandosentinel. 
  16. ^ "Winning Isn't Such A `Snap' For Uf Anymore". tribunedigital-sunsentinel. 
  17. ^ "Ocala Star-Banner - Google News Archive Search". 
  18. ^ a b "Sports - SEC / No. 3 Florida 49, No. 7 Auburn 38 -- Florida Wins Some Respect -- Spurrier's Team Solves Auburn Jinx - Seattle Times Newspaper". 
  19. ^ Michael Oleszek. "Florida Vs. Auburn: Great Moments In the Underrated Rivalry". Bleacher Report. 
  20. ^ a b "Uf Forgets Past, Clobbers Auburn". tribunedigital-sunsentinel. 
  21. ^ "Ocala Star-Banner - Google News Archive Search". 
  22. ^ Barrett Sallee. "Classic SEC Football: Florida Hangs 'Half a Hundred' on Georgia in 1995". Bleacher Report. 
  23. ^ a b "COLLEGE FOOTBALL : SOUTHEASTERN ROUNDUP : Wuerffel Helps Florida Humiliate Georgia". latimes. 
  24. ^ a b Associated Press, "Florida Makes First Athens Trip in 63 Years Memorable", Waycross Journal-Herald (October 30, 1995). Retrieved August 20, 1995.
  25. ^ Michael DiRocco, "SEC Extra: Payback's for the 'Dogs", The Florida Times-Union (September 9, 2005). Retrieved August 20, 2011.
  26. ^ The previous highest score by a Bulldogs opponent in Sanford Stadium was forty-six points by the Tennessee Volunteers in 1936.
  27. ^ 2011 Georgia Football Media Guide, p. 129.
  28. ^ "Kresser Crushes N. Illinois". tribunedigital-orlandosentinel. 
  29. ^ "Ocala Star-Banner - Google News Archive Search". 
  30. ^ "Florida 63, South Carolina 7". UPI. 12 November 1995. 
  31. ^ "Gators' Hanks Ok'd To Play After Scuffle Against Vandy". tribunedigital-orlandosentinel. 
  32. ^ "Ocala Star-Banner - Google News Archive Search". 
  33. ^ "NCAA Football - Florida St. vs. Florida - 11/25/1995 5:45PM ET". Usatoday.com. 1995-11-25. Retrieved 2012-08-15. 
  34. ^ "Ford Looks Back At 1995 SEC Title Game". Scout.com. 27 November 2006. 
  35. ^ "Ocala Star-Banner - Google News Archive Search". 
  36. ^ Dickey, Pat (2013). 100 Things Florida Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die. Triumph Books. 
  37. ^ "All-time Sagarin ratings -- HuskerMax". 
  38. ^ "ESPN.com - Page2 - Best college football teams of all time".