Former Gators quarterback and head coach Steve Spurrier will add his name to yet another Hall of Fame, this time as a player and a coach for his performances at the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
Spurrier will join 10 players and/or coaches as the second class of the Sugar Bowl Hall of Fame. The second class of Hall of Famer’s spans seven decades of Sugar Bowl action and includes seven all-star players, two national championship coaches and Coach Spurrier, who both starred in the Sugar Bowl as a player and directed a team to the national championship as a coach.
Arguably the most successful player/coach in Sugar Bowl history, Spurrier participated in six games in New Orleans throughout his career with the Florida Gators.
In 1966, the unranked Gators met No. 6 Missouri of the Big Eight Conference. After a scoreless first quarter, Missouri stormed back and took a 20-0 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Then Spurrier took over.
The 1966 Heisman Trophy winner and 1986 National Football Foundation College Football Hall of Fame inductee threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to get Florida within two scores. Following a 21-yard touchdown pass and a two-yard touchdown run, Florida trailed by just two points. However, it was not enough as the Gators failed on three consecutive two-point conversion attempts and that miraculous fourth-quarter comeback came up just short resulting in a 20-18 loss.
Despite playing on the losing team, Spurrier was named the Sugar Bowl MVP, the only player from a losing team to ever earn that recognition.
As a coach, Spurrier led five teams to the Sugar Bowl, earning wins in 1994 and 1997.
No. 3 Florida and No. 18 Notre Dame squared off in 1992. The Gators took an early 13-0 lead, but Notre Dame kept chipping away at the score, never letting it get out of reach. The Fighting Irish scored 22 points in the fourth quarter to beat Florida 39-28.
The 1994 Sugar Bowl was between the Gators and West Virginia, winners of the Big East Conference. The Mountaineers came into the game undefeated, with a shot at a share of the national title, while Florida entered at 10-2 and ranked No. 8 in the country. WVU jumped out to an early 7-0 lead, but that’s all they would get as Florida cruised to a convincing 41-7 win behind a three-touchdown performance from running back Errict Rhett and a 51-yard pick six from Lawrence Wright.
In 1995, the Sugar Bowl was a rematch between Florida and Florida State, who had played to a 31-31 tie just 37 days earlier. Early field goals were traded by Judd Davis and Dan Mowrey, before a Florida fumble, recovered by the Seminoles, set up a crucial score. Florida State took a 20-10 lead in the half. But in the fourth quarter, Danny Wuerffel drove the Gators 80 yards and scored with 3:47 left, down by three. Florida had a chance at their own 19 with just over two minutes left, but a Noles interception sealed the 23-17 victory for Florida State.
Florida got a bowl rematch with Florida State two years later and this time the bowl was designated as the national championship game for the 1996 season. The Seminoles entered as the top-ranked team and had beaten the Gators 24-21 in the final game of the regular season. But in the Sugar Bowl, Florida defeated Florida State in convincing fashion, 52-20, and earned it’s first-ever consensus national championship.
Wuerffel, who was awarded the 1996 Heisman Trophy, led the Gators in the rematch against Florida State. He threw three touchdown passes to Ike Hilliard and ran for another score.
The 2001 Sugar Bowl featured the Gators and the Miami Hurricanes in an in-state rivalry game. In Spurrier’s final Sugar Bowl of his UF coaching career, Florida started the scoring with a 23-yard touchdown pass from Rex Grossman to Kirk Wells. Miami responded with a field goal and a touchdown to take a 10-7 lead after the first quarter. Trading field goals in the second quarter, Florida took a 13-7 lead into the half. In the third, Miami scored twice to retake and extend the lead to 27-17. Florida kicked a field goal to get within 7, but Miami scored 10 points and secured the win, 37-20, over the Gators.
“The Sugar Bowl has a very proud and storied history,” said Rod West, President of the Sugar Bowl Committee. “Last year we created our own Hall of Fame to recognize the legends of our game. This year, we will recognize 10 more of the very best players and coaches to have ever competed in the Sugar Bowl Classic. These men all played significant roles in lifting the Bowl to its current level of national prominence, and they gave college football fans some great, great memories in the process.”
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