Photo courtesy of Auburn athletics
In 2006, Florida captured its second national championship, topping Ohio State in Glendale. The Gators finished the season with a record of 13-1.
Its only loss came at Auburn.
In 2007, big things were again expected of Florida. Again, it was Auburn who tempered those expectations. It did so on this day 15 years ago as Wes Byrum’s field goal on the game’s final snap lifted the Tigers to a thrilling 20-17 victory in Gainesville.
Setting the Stage
Led by third-year head coach Urban Meyer and sophomore quarterback Tim Tebow, Florida was ranked No. 4 as it made its way to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Sept. 29, 2007. At 4-0, the Gators were averaging nearly 50 points per game.
Auburn, on the other hand, was just 2-2 and unranked. After opening the season ranked in the top 20, the Tigers suffered back-to-back September home losses to South Florida and Mississippi State. In Gainesville, however, the Tigers took a big step toward righting the ship.
Byrum Wins It
Despite Florida averaging nearly 50 points per contest, Auburn was the only team to find the end zone through three quarters. First-half touchdown runs by Kodi Burns and Ben Tate capped long drives as the Tigers took a 17-3 lead into the final period.
The fourth quarter, however, was just a snap old when Florida scored its first touchdown. Tebow’s 6-yard scoring strike to Cornelius Ingram cut the 14-point deficit in half. After a stop, Tebow capped an 89-yard march with a touchdown run to draw the Gators even at 17 with 7:36 to play.
With momentum on Florida’s side, the Gators came up with another stop, but Auburn’s defense answered with a 3-and-out. The Tigers took over at their own 39-yard-line and rode a pair of completions from Brandon Cox and the legs of Tate to the Florida 26.
With three seconds on the clock, Byrum, a freshman, came onto the field. He calmly knocked through the 43-yard game-winning field goal as the Tigers upset a top-5 Florida team for the second straight year.
Box score and recap:
For Florida, the 2007 season would be one of regression. While Tebow became the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy, the Gators finished just 9-4 and ranked No. 13. Three of the four losses came by six points or less.
After the 1-2 start, Auburn won eight of its final 10 games to finish 9-4 and also in the top 15. As for Byrum, the kick to beat Florida wouldn’t be his only game-winner. His career ended with a winning kick to lift the Tigers past Oregon for the 2010 national championship. The first time he played hero, however, came on this day 15 years ago.