1990 Florida Gators football
ConferenceSoutheastern Conference
APNo. 13
Record9–2 (6–1 SEC)
Head coach
Defensive coordinatorJim Bates (1st season)
CaptainChris Bromley
Ernie Mills
Godfrey Myles
Glenn Neely
Huey Richardson
Home stadiumBen Hill Griffin Stadium
(Capacity: 72,000)[1]
← 1989
1991 →
1990 Southeastern Conference football standings
Conf Overall
Team W   L   T W   L   T
No. 13 Florida 6 1 0 9 2 0
No. 8 Tennessee $ 5 1 1 9 2 2
No. 21 Ole Miss 5 2 0 9 3 0
Alabama 5 2 0 7 5 0
No. 19 Auburn 4 2 1 8 3 1
Kentucky 3 4 0 4 7 0
LSU 2 5 0 5 6 0
Georgia 2 5 0 4 7 0
Mississippi State 1 6 0 5 6 0
Vanderbilt 1 6 0 1 10 0
  • $ – Conference champion
  • Florida ineligible for SEC championship due to NCAA probation.
Rankings from AP Poll

The 1990 Florida Gators football team represented the University of Florida during the 1990 NCAA Division I-A football season. The season marked the return of the Gators' Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Steve Spurrier to his alma mater as the new head coach of the Florida Gators football team.[2]

Spurrier's 1990 Florida Gators, while ineligible to win the SEC title or receive a bowl bid because of lingering NCAA probation,[3] nevertheless posted a best-in-the-SEC record of 6–1 and an overall record of 9–2,[4] and laid the foundation for the Gators' run of six SEC championships and a national title during the next decade.[2] They finished thirteenth in the season's final AP Poll.

Before the season

Just before Spurrier's Gator coaching debut, the Gainesville campus was rocked by the murders committed by Danny Rolling.[5]

During Spurrier's first season, he was able to build on the strong talent recruited by departing Gators coach Galen Hall, but the Gators also reaped the benefits of Spurrier's "there are no excuses for losing" mantra.[3] Even as Spurrier's new "fun 'n' gun" offensive scheme led by quarterback Shane Matthews, wide receiver Ernie Mills and tight end Kirk Kirkpatrick was breaking team scoring and yardage records, defensive coordinator Jim Bates coached one of the best defensive squads in team history, including two first-team All-Americans, defensive end Huey Richardson and safety Will White.[3][4]


September 8Oklahoma State*W 50–775,428
September 15at AlabamaNo. 24TBSW 17–1370,123
September 22No. 1 (I-AA) Furman*No. 19
  • Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
  • Gainesville, FL
W 27–371,868
September 29Mississippi StateNo. 17
  • Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
  • Gainesville, FL
TBSW 34–2172,943
October 6LSUNo. 10
  • Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
  • Gainesville, FL (rivalry)
ESPNW 34–875,039
October 13at No. 5 TennesseeNo. 9ESPNL 3–4596,874
October 20Akron*daggerNo. 17
  • Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
  • Gainesville, FL
W 59–074,558
November 3No. 4 AuburnNo. 15
  • Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
  • Gainesville, FL (rivalry)
ESPNW 48–775,459
November 10vs. GeorgiaNo. 10TBSW 38–781,529
November 17at KentuckyNo. 6TBSW 47–1555,140
December 1at No. 8 Florida State*No. 6ESPNL 30–4563,190
  • *Non-conference game
  • daggerHomecoming
  • Rankings from AP Poll released prior to the game



1990 Florida Gators football team roster
Players Coaches
Pos. # Name Class
  Terence Barber
TE Kirk Kirkpatrick
QB 9 Shane Matthews So
RB Willie McClendon
WR Ernie Mills
RB Errict Rhett
OL Cal Dixon
OL Tony Rowell
OL Brian Fisher
Pos. # Name Class
LB Ephesians Bartley
DB 28 Richard Fain
  Jerry Odom
  Tim Paulk
  Huey Richardson
  Jimmy Spencer
DB 2 Will White
Special teams
Pos. # Name Class
K Arden Czyzewski
Head coach
Coordinators/assistant coaches

  • (C) Team captain
  • (S) Suspended
  • (I) Ineligible
  • Injured
  • Redshirt

Game summaries

Oklahoma State

Main article: 1990 Oklahoma State Cowboys football team

1 234Total
Oklahoma State 0 700 7
Florida 14 121410 50

Combating the gloom, the Gators opened the season with a no-huddle, 80-yard touchdown drive in six plays to defeat the Oklahoma State Cowboys 50–7.[6]


Main articles: 1990 Alabama Crimson Tide football team and Alabama–Florida football rivalry

In their second game, the Gators came from behind to beat Alabama, a confidence-building, 17–13 signature road win, which set the tone for the remainder of the season,.[3] Spurrier treasured the wins against the Crimson Tide: "Those victories early – '90, '91 – really got us started there at Florida ..."[7] Alabama quarterback Gary Hollingsworth threw three interceptions to Florida safety Will White, and the Gators scored the winning touchdown on a blocked punt.[8]


Main article: 1990 Furman Paladins football team

Florida then beat Furman 27–3.

Mississippi State

Main article: 1990 Mississippi State Bulldogs football team

Building on the Alabama win, the Gators had a 34–21 conference victory over the Mississippi State Bulldogs.


Main articles: 1990 LSU Tigers football team and Florida–LSU football rivalry

Next, the Gators blew out the LSU Tigers 34–8.


Main articles: 1990 Tennessee Volunteers football team and Florida–Tennessee football rivalry

The Gators suffered a disappointing 3–45 road loss to the fifth-ranked Tennessee Volunteers in Knoxville, Tennessee. In yet another link between the programs, Spurrier had been a star quarterback at Science Hill High School in Johnson City, Tennessee during the early 1960s. Although Knoxville is nearby, he did not seriously consider attending UT because he was an excellent passer and the Vols ran a single-wing offense at the time which featured a running quarterback.[9] Instead, he choose to return to the state of his birth (Spurrier was born in Miami Beach[10]), eventually becoming the Gators' first Heisman Trophy winner in 1966.

Spurrier's first Gator squad was 5–0 and ranked No. 9 coming into the matchup with Johnny Majors' 3–0–2 and No. 5 Vols, marking the first time in series history that both rivals were ranked in the AP top-10 when they faced off. (It was not Spurrier’s first visit to Knoxville as an opposing coach; his 1988 Duke Blue Devils had upset the Vols 31–26.[11])

The 1990 game began as a defensive struggle, with UT holding a slim 7–3 lead at the half. However, the Vols' Dale Carter returned the second half kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown, igniting the home crowd at Neyland Stadium.[12]

On their ensuing possession, the Gators fumbled for what would be the first of six UF turnovers in the second half. The opportunistic Vols took full advantage, turning Spurrier’s homecoming (and, coincidentally, UT's homecoming game) into a dominating 45–3 rout, the largest margin of victory for either team in the series.[13]


Main article: 1990 Akron Zips football team

Florida blanked Akron 59–0.


Main articles: 1990 Auburn Tigers football team and Auburn–Florida football rivalry

1 234Total
Auburn 7 000 7
• Florida 7 2777 48


Coach Pat Dye's 1990 Auburn Tigers were the defending three-time SEC champions, had built an undefeated 6−0−1 record, and were ranked fourth in the nation in the AP Poll.[15] Notwithstanding the fact that first-year coach Steve Spurrier's fifteenth-ranked Gators were three-point favorites,[15] Dye had been publicly dismissive of Spurrier's pass-oriented offense before the game. The Gators and Tigers were tied 7–7 after the first quarter, but Spurrier's Gators exploded for twenty-seven points in the second quarter, resulting in a 34–7 halftime lead and a 48–7 victory for the Gators, which was the Gators' biggest margin of victory in the series, and the worst loss of Dye's career.[16]


Main articles: 1990 Georgia Bulldogs football team and Florida–Georgia football rivalry

World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party: Florida Gators vs. Georgia Bulldogs
1 2 34Total
Georgia 7 0 007
Florida 14 10 14038

at Gator BowlJacksonville, Florida

  • Date: November 10
  • Game attendance: 81,529
  • Gainesville Sun
Game information

Florida's first win against Georgia since 1986, the Gators beat the Bulldogs 38–7 .[17]


Main article: 1990 Kentucky Wildcats football team

Florida beat the Kentucky Wildcats 47–15.

Florida State

Main articles: 1990 Florida State Seminoles football team and Florida–Florida State football rivalry

#6 Florida Gators (9–1) at #8 Florida State Seminoles (8–2)
1 2 34Total
Florida 3 7 61430
Florida St 17 7 14745

at Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, Florida

  • Date: December 1, 1990
  • Game weather: Clear
  • Game attendance: 63,190
  • Recap/Box Score
Game information

The game was dubbed by some as the "Seminole Bowl" due to Florida's postseason ban.


Matthews finished the season with 2,952 passing yards and twenty-three touchdowns—then the most passing yards in Gators history.[3] He was SEC Player of the Year.[18]

Before Spurrier returned to Gainesville, the Gators had never won an officially sanctioned Southeastern Conference (SEC) or national football championship (Florida's first SEC championship was in 1984, but was retroactively vacated by the SEC for infractions incurred by former head coach Charley Pell). Before Spurrier resigned to seek a coaching position in the National Football League in January 2002, the Gators would win six SEC titles, play for two national championships, and win one in 1996.[2]


  1. ^ University of Florida Sports Information Department. "Florida 1990 Football Guide" (PDF). floridagators.com. University Athletic Association, Inc. Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Norm Carlson, University of Florida Football Vault: The History of the Florida Gators, Whitman Publishing, LLC, Atlanta, Georgia, pp. 104–126 (2007).
  3. ^ a b c d e Carlson, University of Florida Football Vault, pp. 105–109.
  4. ^ a b c 2015 Florida Gators Football Media Guide Archived 2015-12-08 at the Wayback Machine, University Athletic Association, Gainesville, Florida, pp. 112–113 (2015). Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  5. ^ Pat Dooley. "When UF's Summer of Steve collided with terror".
  6. ^ "Spurrier Debut a Doozy: 50-7." Gainesville Sun. King, Bill. 1990 Sept 9.
  7. ^ "Steve Spurrier says early '90s wins over Alabama 'got us started there at Florida'". AL.com.
  8. ^ "Loaded For Bear", S. Looney, Douglas. Sports Illustrated, September 24, 1990
  9. ^ “The Spurrier Sweepstakes” – The Lakeland Ledger, Nov. 12, 1996
  10. ^ Spurrier bio, St. Pete Times
  11. ^ "Duke Game by Game Results". Archived from the original on 2016-01-21. Retrieved 2016-07-13.
  12. ^ “Gators Seeking Special Play from Special Teams” – The Gainesville Sun, October 11, 1991
  13. ^ "Tennessee Domination Was Total", The Gainesville Sun, October 14, 1990
  14. ^ Eugene Register-Guard. 1990 Nov 4. Retrieved 2018-Nov-25.
  15. ^ a b Associated Press, "College Football: South; Auburn Routed for First Loss," The New York Times (November 4, 1990). Retrieved August 16, 2011.
  16. ^ Gregg Dewalt, "Gators maul Tigers," Times Daily, pp. 1B & 6B (November 4, 1990). Retrieved August 16, 2011.
  17. ^ "Gators Pound 'Dawgs, 38-7." King, Bill. Gainesville Sun. 1990 Nov 11.
  18. ^ "SEC Player of the Year Winners". College Football at Sports-Reference.com.