On the play after the double pass, Wuerffel called a quarterback sneak but checked off at the line when he saw the defense loaded up in the middle. The new play, a quick slant to Doering, worked perfectly: Florida 24, Alabama 23.
However, 5:29 remained, plenty of time for Barker to move the Tide within range of Michael Proctor, the chain-smoking placekicker who had already converted field goals of 22,47 and 48 yards. But after Barker completed a five-yarder to running back Sherman Williams on the first play of what was to be the Tide's final drive, the conservative Stallings called seven consecutive running plays that left his team with third-and-eight on its own 49 and 1:12 remaining. An illegal procedure penalty then left Stallings with no choice but to have Barker throw.
First he let go a pass that was tipped. Then, on fourth down, his pass to wide receiver Toderick Malone was tipped by cornerback Fred Weary and intercepted by strong safety Eddie Lake, who ran out-of-bounds with 44 seconds left.
As Barker left the locker room, he was philosophical about the most crushing defeat of his career. "I've had so much fun at Alabama, to let one game ruin it, it's not worth it," he said. "I know I let some people down. Hopefully, they'll love us unconditionally."
Unconditional love. It's something that Spurrier, for all his success, has never found at Florida. There's even talk that despite winning three SEC titles in his first five years, Spurrier is so unhappy with his critics that he may bolt to coach the expansion NFL Carolina Panthers next year. For one night, though, he put that aside. "It really feels good to win a close one and to come from behind," said Spurrier.
That's a nice feeling to take to New Orleans.