As the Gators continue their preparations to take on Louisville in the Sugar Bowl January 2, HailFloridaHail takes a look back at previous Florida Gator Sugar Bowl games. Today we look back at the Gators second trip to New Orleans to face the Nebraska Cornhuskers December 31, 1974.
The Gators arrived as heavy underdogs to the Cornhuskers but the fired up Gator defense had held down the Cornhuskers for much of the game. Holding a 10-0 lead in the third quarter, the Gators were driving for another score that might have put the game away. Gator tailback Tony Green took a pitch on third and four from the Nebraska 18 and bounced it into the endzone skipping the last five for a score which should have put the game out of reach at 16-0. Unfortunately for the Gators, the refs ruled he stepped out of bounds even though the replay showed he had not. Nebraska held the Gators to a fourth down but head coach Doug Dickey chose to go for it on fourth down where James Richards slipped and was stopped short of the goal line leaving the score 10-0. That was the break the Cornhuskers needed.
With short gains, Nebraska went exclusively to the running game getting them out of the shadow of their own goal line. Slowly they continued to run the ball and pick up first downs until eventually getting into the endzone to get within three at 10-7. The 18 play drive had consumed almost nine minutes and wore the Gator defense down.
On Nebraska’s next possession, they continued focusing on the running game and making short gains putting together first downs until the drive eventually stalled and they kicked a successful 37 yard field goal to tie the game at ten. The Gators had gone from an almost insurmountable 17-0 lead to a 10-10 tie and now it was a ball game.
The Cornhuskers held the Gators on their next possession and after getting the ball back with four minutes left in the game they went right back to the running game. Tony Davis broke free for a 40 yard gain down to the Gator 31 yard line. From there the Husker’s kicked a game winning 39 yard field goal. The Cornhuskers who looked dead in the middle of the third quarter had done the improbable coming back and winning the game 13-10.