Florida Gators Football: Who Is UF's Biggest Rival?

John PattonContributor IJuly 7, 2011

Florida Gators Football: Who Is UF's Biggest Rival?

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    Your task today, Bleacher Report readers, is quite simple. Look at the following slides, and in the comment boxes at the end, give your answer as to who is the University of Florida football team's biggest rival.

    In order to expedite the process, I will give you eight choices, listed alphabetically.

    I want to know from Gator fans, which of these teams fires you up the most on a Saturday in the fall and winter.


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    No two teams have played each other more in the Southeastern Conference championship game than Florida and Alabama.

    The contests often feature a plethora of future NFL talent, and adding to the rivalry has been the success the Crimson Tide has had recruiting in the Sunshine State.

    This year's prime example likely will be 'Bama tailback Trent Richardson, a Pensacola native who could be a Heisman Trophy candidate.


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    Throughout the years, this rivalry has been a big one for each school. Being in separate divisions, they don't play as often as they used to, but when they do, the matchups generally are heated.

    The feud has been marked in recent years by two who got away from the Gators.

    In 2007, Wes Byrum, a product of Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas, booted a 43-yard field goal as time expired to give the Tigers a 20-17 victory in The Swamp.

    Byrum grew up always wanting to be a Gator but received no scholarship offer coming out of high school, and because of a penalty, he had to make that kick twice. After the one that counted, he ran up and down the field doing the Gator chomp.

    And there's Cam Newton. Need I say more?

Florida State

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    This rivalry has included national championship game meetings, an already fired coach (Ron Zook) ruining the naming of Bobby Bowden Field, the "Darnell Dockett/Earnest Graham game," hundreds of future NFL players and 1994's infamous "Choke at Doak," among others.

    In many instances, the players on the two teams are friends off the field, due to having been high school rivals or teammates.

    But on that Saturday in late November, all of that is put aside for personal and school pride.


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    Although lopsided in UF's favor in recent years, the Florida-Georgia rivalry always has been heated.

    Save for two games in the 1990s when the Gator Bowl was being renovated for the Jacksonville Jaguars, the "World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party" primarily has been played in Jacksonville (an interesting note is the game played in Gainesville saw the Bulldogs start a former walk-on safety named Will Muschamp).


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    It is fair to say that the three most successful SEC programs of the last decade are (in no specific order) Florida, Alabama and LSU.

    Like UF, the Tigers own three national championships, two of which have come since 2003.

    Head-to-head, the contest that probably stands out most to Tiger fans is one they call "The Greatest Game Ever Played."

    It took place in 2007 and was preceded by LSU supporters getting ahold of UF quarterback Tim Tebow's cell phone number and leaving him hundreds of messages. Tebow got an early measure of revenge by doing a "telephone call" gesture to the Tiger Stadium crowd after an early touchdown put his team ahead.

    However, LSU got the last laugh, going 5-for-5 on fourth-down attempts and winning the game, 28-24, with 1:06 left on a scoring plunge by Jacob Hester.


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    These two programs only play sporadically nowadays, but they butt heads often in recruiting.

    On the field, there are more than a few moments (the 1986 hit the late Jarvis Williams delivered to Melvin Bratton being one) and games that stand out.

    When Miami won its first national championship (in 1983), there was just one blemish on its record—a 28-3 opening game loss in Gainesville. When the season ended, UF fans were seen with bumper stickers that read "Gators 28, National Champs 3."

    Twenty years later, former Gator quarterback Brock Berlin led UM back from a 33-10 deficit in the third quarter to beat Florida, 38-33 in front of a fired-up Orange Bowl crowd.

    Berlin added to the fury by mocking Gator players and fans with the Gator chomp after the 28-point rally was complete.

South Carolina

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    The two teams that met in the recent College World Series championship round also have a budding rivalry on the field, courtesy of one man.

    Steve Spurrier.

    The former Gator Heisman Trophy winner and coach still loves his alma mater, but his current loyalty lies in Columbia, SC. There, he has turned a below-average program into what became the 2010 SEC East champions.

    Included in last season's run was a blowout victory in Gainesville.

    This may not be No. 1 on the list yet, but check back in about seven to 10 years.


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    Like with Georgia, UF has dominated this rivalry in recent years. However, the hatred still burns.

    From former Gator linebacker James Bates' memorable Jeff Foxworthy Show quote to Peyton Manning going winless against UF to Lane Kiffin's false accusation of a recruiting violation by Urban Meyer, the annual game remains heated from Knoxville to Gainesville.