In 1994, "Friends" premiered on NBC, Netscape Navigator 1.0 was released, and O.J. Simpson was arrested (the first time). And the Florida Gators last won a football game in the state of Mississippi.
A lot has changed over the years, but the Gators' losing streak remains. Sure, it's only a three-game streak, thanks in part to the SEC's rotating schedule, but we're talking Ole Miss and Mississippi State, for Tebow's sake. How could that be? Bad luck? Bad coaching? A curse?
Let's look back at those stunning losses that still haunt the Gators as they prepare for their first road game of the year in Oxford.
Sept. 30, 2000: Mississippi State 47, Florida 35
The Gators entered Starkville ranked third in the country. They left battered, bruised, and beaten, all the way down to the equipment manager. Dicenzo Walker and Dontae Walker, the best running back tandem since --- well, no one -- combined for 328 rushing yards as Steve Spurrier lost for the first time as Florida coach against an unranked opponent. "Our players can't tackle very well," Spurrier noted afterward.
In the ensuing post-game celebration/melee, a Florida equiment manager was kicked and beaten by rowdy MSU fans. But Spurrier would get his revenge. The following year, the Gators shut out MSU 52-0 in Gainesville. When the Head Ball Coach was asked about running up the score on the overmatched Bulldogs, he said that late touchdown pass was dedicated to the equipment manager. Classic Spurrier.
October 5, 2002: Ole Miss 17, Florida 14
This time, Ron Zook's seventh-ranked Gators traveled to Oxford to take on Eli Manning and the Rebels. Rex Grossman had his worst day as a Gator, throwing four interceptions and causing a safety with an intentional grounding penalty in his own end zone. When Ole Miss safety Matt Grier returned one of Grossman's picks for a touchdown in the third quarter, the Rebels took the lead and hung on for the win.
This game had its own bit of pugilistic controversy. A cheerleader fight broke out when the Ole Miss squad tripped their Florida counterparts as they entered Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
There would be no revenge for Zook the following year. Eli Manning went 2-0 against the Gators, leading the Rebs to a 20-17 win in the Swamp.
Oct. 23, 2004: Mississippi State 38, Florida 31
Prior to the trip to Starkville, the Gators had lost two close games to Tennessee and LSU. But Mississippi State was horrible, having gone 0-3 in the SEC to that point. Inexplicably, the Bulldogs went toe-to-toe with the Gators, countering every Florida score with one of their own, never relinquishing the lead. Then, with the score tied 31-all and 47 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Jerious Norwood ran 37 yards for the winning touchdown.
The loss was Ron Zook's Waterloo. Two days later, he was informed he would not be retained as head coach after the season. The Gators went on to lose the following week against Georgia, but salvaged an otherwise disappointing year with a win in Tallahassee in Zook's final game as head coach.
Fourth Time's the Charm?
So here we are again, travelling to Mississippi for a seemingly easy win over an outclassed opponent. But that's what we thought last time. And the time before that. And the time before that. On Saturday we'll find out if the Gators can end the streak and prevent another Mississippi Meltdown.