For those who know me, you’ll know I follow two college teams; the Florida Gators and the Washington Huskies. When it comes to football, the two teams have met once, in the 1989 Freedom Bowl. Washington won that day, driven by their dominant defense, who was building for things to come including a national championship two years later.
For Florida, this was the last game for All-American running back Emmitt Smith. Smith, who grew up in Pensacola, FL like I did, would skip his senior year to go pro and would be drafted seventeenth by the Dallas Cowboys. The rest would be history, as Smith went on to be the NFL’s all-time leading rusher.
Part of the reason Smith skipped his last season was because the Gators interim coach, Gary Darnell, was dismissed after the game after head coach Galen Hall was let go earlier in the year. Florida alum and former Heisman Trophy winner Steve Spurrier was hired the following day. Again, the rest would be history, as Spurrier would go on to be the school’s winningest coach, bringing the team their first national championship in 1996.
More on the game from Elliott Teaford of the LA Times:
It was difficult to know exactly why it all went wrong for the University of Florida–or how it all went right for Washington–in the Freedom Bowl Saturday.
But rest assured, Florida had a miserable day and Washington had a brilliant one.
Florida’s rushing game, led by All-American Emmitt Smith, ran smack dab into Washington’s rock-solid defense and was rendered useless. Averaging 244 yards, Florida could scratch out just 121.
The Gators couldn’t stop Washington’s efficient passing game or its steady rushing as the Huskies gained 217 yards on the ground and 242 through the air.
It added up to a 34-7 Washington victory before 33,858 at Anaheim Stadium.