1997 Nokia Sugar Bowl
63rd edition
Bowl Alliance National Championship Game
1234 Total
Florida 10141414 52
Florida State 31430 20
DateJanuary 2, 1997
StadiumLouisiana Superdome
LocationNew Orleans, Louisiana
MVPDanny Wuerffel (QB, Florida)
FavoriteFlorida by 3.5 points (54.5) [1][2]
RefereeRandy Christal (Big 12)
United States TV coverage
AnnouncersKeith Jackson (play-by-play)
Bob Griese (analyst)
Lynn Swann (sideline)
Sugar Bowl
 < 1995 (Dec) 1998
College Football Championship Game
 < 1996 1998

The 1997 Nokia Sugar Bowl was the 63rd edition to the annual Sugar Bowl game and served as the Bowl Alliance's designated national championship game for the 1996 season. It matched No. 1 Florida State of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) against No. 3 Florida of the Southeastern Conference (SEC). Florida defeated Florida State in convincing fashion, with a final score of 52–20, and with the victory earned its first-ever consensus national championship. This remains the only national championship game to feature two teams from the same state.


The game was a bowl rematch of a regular season game, as Florida State had defeated Florida, 24–21, in a game played in Tallahassee on November 30.

Third-ranked Florida was invited to the designated national championship game because the Pac-10 champion was contractually obligated to play in the Rose Bowl Game, and unavailable to participate in the Bowl Alliance national championship game.[3] As a result, second-ranked Arizona State, the Pac-10 champion, played the Big Ten champion, fourth-ranked Ohio State, in the 1997 Rose Bowl.[3] When Ohio State defeated Arizona State in the Rose Bowl on January 1, the Sugar Bowl winner was all but assured of being named the consensus national champion.[3]

Florida Gators

Main article: 1996 Florida Gators football team

The Gators were led by their Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, Danny Wuerffel. They completed their regular season schedule with a 10–1 record, then defeated No. 11 Alabama in the 1996 SEC Championship Game.

Florida State Seminoles

Main article: 1996 Florida State Seminoles football team

Top-ranked Florida State entered the bowl with an undefeated 11–0 record, led by quarterback Thad Busby and running back Warrick Dunn.

Game summary

After a halftime score of 24–17 in favor of Florida, Florida State closed to 24–20 with a third quarter field goal. Florida then outscored Florida State 28–0 for the remainder of the game, for a 52–20 final. Gator quarterback Danny Wuerffel threw three touchdown passes to Ike Hilliard in the game, and ran for another score. Wuerffel became the second Heisman Trophy winner in four years to win a national championship, following Charlie Ward of the 1993 Florida State team.

Scoring summary

First quarter
Florida: TD Ike Hilliard 9 pass from Danny Wuerffel (Bart Edmiston kick) 9:48
Florida 7–0
FSU: FG Scott Bentley 43 7:49
Florida 7–3
Florida: FG Bart Edmiston 32 2:44
Florida 10–3
Second quarter
Florida: TD Fred Taylor 2 run (Bart Edmiston kick) 11:28
Florida 17–3
FSU: TD E.G. Green 29 pass from Thad Busby (Bentley kick) 7:28
Florida 17–10
Florida: TD Ike Hilliard 31 pass from Danny Wuerffel (Bart Edmiston kick) 5:18
Florida 24–10
FSU: TD Warrick Dunn 12 run (Scott Bentley kick) 0:40
Florida 24–17
Third quarter
FSU: FG Scott Bentley 45 10:24
Florida 24–20
Florida: TD Ike Hilliard 7 pass from Danny Wuerffel (Bart Edmiston kick) 5:43
Florida 31–20
Florida: TD Danny Wuerffel 16 run (Bart Edmiston kick) 0:13
Florida 38–20
Fourth quarter
Florida: TD Terry Jackson 42 run (Bart Edmiston kick) 8:52
Florida 45–20
Florida: TD Terry Jackson 1 run (Bart Edmiston kick) 2:12
Florida 52–20


See also


  1. ^ "Orange Bowl Odds".
  2. ^ "Betting line". Orange Bowl Odds. p. D7.
  3. ^ a b c Rosenblatt, Richard (December 8, 1997). "Bowl Alliance hopes for best: Without Michigan, Orange Bowl cheers for Washington State". The Daily News–Journal. Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Associated Press. Retrieved October 31, 2022. The [Rose Bowl] result also turned the Jan. 2 Sugar Bowl into a true title game
  4. ^ "1997 Game Recap / Allstate Sugar Bowl". Archived from the original on January 16, 2010.