Steve Spurrier lost his last game against Tennessee as Florida’s head coach, and he still can’t get over it.
The Vols and Gators had an outstanding rivalry from 1992-2001, but one game stands out to the former Florida head coach more than any.
The Orlando Sentinel put together a great piece of coaches reflecting on their most difficult losses ever after the Falcons’ Super Bowl collapse. For Spurrier: the 2001 loss to the Vols in the Swamp.
Spurrier: Tennessee ran it down our throats
Both teams came into the regular-season finale with top five rankings at 9-1 records. A win in The Swamp paired with an SEC Championship victory would place Tennessee or Florida in the National Championship. The Vols won an instant classic, 34-32 as 17-point underdogs. Spurrier still thinks about it.
“We finished third in the nation that year and didn’t win anything,” Spurrier said. “That Tennessee loss was so crucial, because I really thought we had a team that could go all the way. Losing that game hurt a lot. I don’t know if you ever completely get over a loss like that.”
Florida had the nation’s top passer in Rex Grossman and the SEC’s best defense. But, that night Tennessee RB Travis Stephens had a historic 226 yard, two touchdown performance.
“We had such a super, super team that year,” Spurrier said. “That’s why the loss was so hard to take. Tennessee ran it right down our throats.”
Travis Stephens was an instant legend in the minds of Vol fans. That would be Spurrier’s final regular season game coaching the Gators as he went on to the NFL’s Washington Redskins that winter.
Tennessee did have a tough loss against LSU in the SEC Championship the week later. Instead of the Rose Bowl, the Vols beat Michigan in the Citrus Bowl 45-17.