Two Florida football rivalry games among the best in college sports

What makes college sports different than the professional level is a particular type of emotion that comes along with being an amateur fanatic. The connection between an individual and the school of their choice can be driven by a myriad of forces; whether they matriculated at the institution or are a bandwagon fan, the joy of victory and the sting of defeat still resonates the same.

One of the things that the University of Florida prides itself on is the strength of its fanbase, the Gator Nation, a collection of people from across the globe who share a love of the Orange and Blue. But that collective consciousness did not arise spontaneously from the ether, but rather, over decades of grinding out yearly schedules. Most important were the rivalry matches, which often came against other highly-regarded institutions that helped elevate the university’s image to a higher level.

College Sports Wire’s Patrick Conn published his list of the top college sports rivalries games and Florida had two of its annual matchups selected. First up is the in-state feud between the Gators and the Florida State Seminoles, which came in sixth on the list. Here is what Conn had to offer on one of the best rivalries games in college football — even during down seasons.

Why The Ranking?

The Florida Gators and the Florida State Seminoles might not play in the same conference, but these two teams face off every season. There isn’t a more bitter rivalry in the Sunshine State than this game, and I would argue it is the best rivalry for the Gators and Seminoles. Even the former Head Ball Coach would get into the act of this hatred between the two Florida teams.

“You know what FSU stands for, don’t you? Free Shoes University.” – Steve Spurrier, Former Florida head coach

This rivalry really blossomed during the 1990s with Steve Spurrier facing off with Bobby Bowden. Some of the best matchups featured the “Choke at the Doak” in which Florida held a 31-3 lead but ended in a 31-31 tie. The Seminoles won the rematch in the Sugar Bowl. In the 1996 season finale, the Noles would knock off the Gators in Gainesville, 24-21. In the rematch, Florida throttled their rivals 52-20 in the Sugar Bowl to secure the national championship.

Florida holds the overall edge, 37-27-2. The first matchup came in 1958 when the Gators won 21-7 in the Swamp.

Next up is the inevitable cross-border battle between Florida and Georgia — a rivalry so heated it has to be played on a neutral field in Jacksonville. Conn had some choice words about his selection for the eighth-best rivalry in college sports.

Why The Ranking?

We have another border war with the Florida Gators and Georgia Bulldogs’ annual dust-up in Jacksonville, Florida.

Once again, this rivalry spilled out to the coaching staff and the HBC Steve Spurrier has yet another epic quote.

“I sort of always like playing [Georgia] that second game because you could always count on them having two or three key players suspended.”

This series became very one-sided from 1990-2010 where the Gators won every matchup with the exception of three games. Since the Dawgs’ rise to prominence, these two schools have traded blows. Since 2015, the winner of this game has gone on to represent the East in the SEC title game.

Some of the memorable moments include ‘Fourth and Dumb’, ‘Herschel over the Top’, ‘The Gators upset No. 4 Bulldogs’, and ‘The Gator Stomp.’ The series dates back to 1915 when Georgia won 37-0 in Jacksonville. The Bulldogs own the all-time series edge 54-44-2.

Billy Napier and the Gators are slated to face Georgia in Jacksonville on Oct. 28 and the Seminoles in Gainesville on Nov. 25 next season. Kickoff times and broadcast information have not yet been announced.

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Story originally appeared on Gators Wire