I was at this game as a kid, unbelievable. Changing Gator History: 1985 vs. Rutgers Bob Redman Changing Gator History: 1985 vs. Rutgers It was my first year as a student at the University of Florida. I was in the Gator Marching Band and had been to a couple of Gator football games in the past, but really didn’t get the full flavor of it until I showed up on campus as a student and a band member, drenched in sweat from a 1 p.m. kickoff and heard the roar of the crowd when the Gators scored a touchdown. The heat was probably a little more for me than most as the band was dressed in full-wool band uniforms back then and my adrenaline was pumping after a my first pregame show on Doug’s Rug with the crowd looking down on us. It was actually a crisp 74 degrees that day, not bad for the time of the day and in early September. Nonetheless, the crowd was feverish. This was also the first year of the television ban for Florida football. The Gators were nailed with 119 NCAA rules violations the year before. They watched as an SEC Championship they won on the field was stripped from them and they lost head coach Charley Pell in 1984. They won the old UPI National Championship that year, but weren’t allowed to win the AP title or play in a bowl game. The bowl game ban was for 1985, 86, and 87. Nobody in the stadium that held around 70,000 back then cared that there would be no bowl game at the end of the year. The announced crowd of 71,708 that day versus Rutgers was pumped. The Gators started the season No. 5 in the country and moved up to No. 3 after a 35-23 win at Miami the weekend before. Nobody in the stadium could watch the Miami game on television, so they were itching for some Gator football. They had no idea what they were getting into that day. As the game started, the Scarlet Knights scored first. Trailing 7-6 with less than five minutes remaining, Florida redshirt sophomore starting quarterback Kerwin Bell did what everyone saw him do the year before and threw two touchdown passes to close out the first half and the Gators led 20-6. Bell opened things up even further after halftime with another touchdown pass making the score 28-6. Things were in hand and Rutgers was the first to substitute for their starting quarterback. The Scarlet Knight quarterback was just 9-of-21 for 68 yards and an interception. He was replaced by backup Joe Gagliardi. Bell completed 18 of 24 passes for 230 yards and three touchdowns in a little more than two quarters of play before the Gators called on sophomore Rodney Brewer of Apopka. Bell was one of several starters that were replaced at the same time. The play of Brewer was a huge part of the outcome, but he wasn’t the reason the Gators would eventually give up what should have been an easy win. The bad news came quick after Brewer entered the field. His first pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. To make an agonizing story short, Brewer would throw another interception and cough up a fumble as he moved the offense late in the game into scoring position. He was three-of-seven for 36 yards and the two picks. His counterpart Gagliardi fared much better, completing 10-of-18 for 120 yards, a touchdown and a two-point conversion. Bell was entered back into the game with the Gators up 28-20, but a dropped third down pass would force the Gators to punt. Gagliardi drove the field, threw a touchdown pass, and completed the two-point conversion and the game was tied. Rutgers actually gathered an onside kick and had the ball after tying things up. But a turnover was followed by another Gator turnover, and finally another Rutgers turnover to end one of the sloppiest games in the Galen Hall era at Florida. On this day, my first game as a student at Florida, things could have been different if just a thing or two was changed. Another score with Bell at quarterback would have made it 35 to 6 and a little less of a chance. There were several other substitutes that didn’t play as well as the starters. Quite a few things could have been done differently. The Gators still managed to get to No. 1 for the first time ever after beating Auburn and Bo Jackson several games later, but this is a tie that shouldn’t have happened.