As the Gators prepare for their first BCS game and Sugar Bowl since 2010 when the Gators were selected to face Cincinnati after the 2009 season, HailFloridaHail looks back at some memorable Sugar Bowl games in which Florida played. We start the series with the Gators first Sugar Bowl game.
Their first Sugar Bowl, and the first major bowl game of any kind for the Gators, came after the 1965 season when Steven Orr Spurrier quarterbacked the team for legendary Gator coach Ray Graves. The 7-3 Gators were matched up against the 7-2-1 Missouri Tigers and the game was a good one and became known as the “Go for Two Game”.
The favored Tigers came out and dominated the first half leading 17-0 going into halftime. The Gators, behind quarterback Steve Spurrier, had almost zero offense in the first half with no rushing game to speak of. The Gators knew that if they were to make a comeback they would have to pass the ball in the second half.
That’s exactly what they would do. With the defense holding the Tigers to only a field goal in the third quarter, the Gators began their big comeback in the fourth quarter behind the arm of Spurrier. Going 6-6 Spurrier led the Gators on a scoring drive which ended in a touchdown pass. Rather than line up and kick the extra point, Ray Graves instructed Spurrier to go for two which failed leaving the score 20-6.
After a Missouri fumble on the kickoff the Gators took over on the Missouri ten with Spurrier punching the ball into the end zone. Again, inexplicably Graves instructed his team to go for two which failed once again. Spurrier then drove them downfield for another touchdown scoring drive to get the Gators within two at 20-18 but for a third consecutive time the two point conversion failed. Missouri ran out the clock and the Gators left defeated wishing they had made some different decisions which might have given them a different outcome.
Spurrier finished the game 22-45 for 352 yards two touchdowns passing, one rushing, and one interception. Great numbers, might have led them to an epic comeback if not for the spurious coaching decisions by Ray Graves. “Go for two, Ray” fans and media exclaimed after the game. The best strategy Missouri never dreamed up, yet nonetheless led them to a Sugar Bowl victory.