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UF game by game

By Times staff

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 25, 2000

SEPT. 2 vs. BALL STATE: The Gators think their losing streak is embarrassing. UF lost its final three games last season, but the Cardinals have lost 17 straight dating to their lone win in 1998. Gee, whose losing streak do you think will come to an end?

SEPT. 9 vs. MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE: A free visor to anyone who knows MTSU's nickname. A few weeks ago, UF coach Steve Spurrier wasn't certain the Blue Raiders were a Division I-A team. They are, by a year, but it won't matter. Write another check, win another game.

SEPT. 16 at TENNESSEE: In that neither team can confidently name a starting quarterback, apparently this early Southeastern Conference clash has lost some of its luster. No.9 Florida vs. No.12 Tennessee. It doesn't even rate a prime-time TV slot, so you probably won't want to watch ... at 3:30 p.m. on Channel 10.

SEPT. 23 vs. KENTUCKY: This would seem a better basketball rivalry for the coming decade, but there's something about the Wildcats that gets under the Gators' hide. Maybe it's all those passing yards UK is piling up under coach Hal Mumme? Or maybe it's all the passing yards UF is not piling up these days?

SEPT. 30 at MISSISSIPPI STATE: Danger, danger! Potentially undefeated and overconfident Gator team rides into Starkville to play underestimated, respect-seeking Bulldogs. This has all the trappings of a late-night, ESPN2 doozy -- the kind that always goes into overtime. No official word from the programmers yet but don't be surprised.

OCT. 7 vs. LOUISIANA STATE: Moments after UF's 31-10 victory at LSU last season, Spurrier glibly commented that teams fall on hard times after beating the Gators. Just look at LSU, which upset UF in 1997. Of course, he also told us to watch what happened to Alabama, which had beaten UF in overtime the week before.

OCT. 14 vs. AUBURN: A once-hated rival, Auburn transgressed the past two seasons into such offensive ineptitude that Spurrier took pity. Really, what could be more insulting? The Tigers are improving under second-year coach Tommy Tuberville and would love to make a splash in The Swamp.

OCT. 28 vs. GEORGIA (at JACKSONVILLE): For years, UF fans have relied on bitter memories to keep alive their hatred of the Bulldogs. But the new millennium could give a fresh start to an old rivalry. Experts claim this game will decide the SEC East.

NOV. 4 at VANDERBILT: With former UF quarterback Tim Olmstead on the Vandy sideline, the Gators blamed their offensive struggles in a 13-7 victory on stolen play signals. Spurrier angrily dismissed it as a poor excuse. But do you think the Gators might have some new signals in Nashville?

NOV. 11 vs. SOUTH CAROLINA: The Gamecocks made it into the record book last season as the only team in SEC history not to win a single game -- 0-11. USC may win a game this season, maybe even two. But c'mon. No way. Don't be silly.

NOV. 18 at FLORIDA STATE: Ah, the big finish. Of course, the Seminoles might wonder what all the fuss is about, since the Gators haven't won in Tallahassee since 1986. But this is college football's highest-stakes rivalry, in which one team seems always to have a shot at the national title.

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