Top 30 at Jordan-Hare – #9 Florida (2001)
How I Remember It: Florida was the best team in the nation at the time. They had Rex Grossman, Jabar Gaffney, Reche Caldwell, and of course were led by Steve Spurrier. Not one person in the world gave Auburn a chance. I don’t even think Florida brought their punter. Seriously.
It was windy and drizzly the whole game. The score was close, but Auburn pretty much manhandled the Gators all night. Florida had negative rushing yards, and besides one long pass play where Gaffney was wide open, the Tigers stopped the nation’s most explosive offense.
I remember, even from my view in the student section, that Damon Duval’s winning field goal looked wide right, but when the fans in the endzone went crazy, I knew Auburn had just done the “impossible.” I also remember my fellow students rushing the field and tearing down the goalpost. Once they were done, the chain link fence inside the hedges around the field was pretty much gone.
What Really Happened: Florida was ranked #1 or #2 in the nation, depending on which poll you were following, but we’ll use #1 for this post’s sake. Auburn came in unranked with one loss (Syracuse, 14-31).
The Gators got on the board first with a field goal, but Auburn answered back with one of their own to tie the game. Early in the 2nd quarter, Daniel Cobb ended a 59-yard drive with a 1-yard quarterback sneak. The Gators added another field goal later in the quarter as the Tigers led 10-6 going into halftime.
Florida would take the lead halfway through the 3rd quarter on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Grossman to Caldwell. At the end of the quarter, Auburn recovered a fumble on a bad snap to the punter at the Florida 2-yard line. One play into the 4th quarter, Chris Butler ran two yards for the score.
The Tigers would add another field goal on their next possession, but on the very next play from scrimmage, Grossman connected with Gaffney for an 80-yard touchdown pass tying the game at 20-20.
The two teams would go back and forth for the most of the rest of the quarter, but following an Auburn fumble, Karlos Dansby intercepted Grossman. Cobb then led the Tigers on a 10-play drive to get Duval in field goal range.
The rest is history.
Why did I pick this game? Even though Auburn only had one loss on the season, they weren’t in the national picture at all. This win was huge for the season, and huge for the program. The Tigers knocked off the #1 team when nobody expected it. A game winning field goal is always good for the Top 30 list as well.
Fun Facts: This was Auburn’s first win over Florida in eight games. Rex Grossman was intercepted four times on the night.
Play of the Game: Duval’s game winning field goal is a no-brainer.
Player of the Game: As I’ve said before, if you kick a game-winner, you are the player of the game everytime.
Quote of the Game: “This feels great. To come out and beat the No. 1 team in the nation feels great. The defense did what they had to do to stop them, and the offense played tough all game. I have the easy job. For the third week in a row, I just came out and put it through the uprights. I really wasn’t nervous at all.” – Damon Duval
Box Score and Game Story: USA Today
You can view the rest of the 2020 edition of this list here.