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TIGER KICKOFF: 10 things you didn't know about Florida

Friday, October 18, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 6:49 a.m. CDT, Friday, October 18, 2013

COLUMBIA — Each week gets tougher for Missouri. After knocking off Georgia on the road, Missouri jumped from No. 25 to No. 14 in the polls. The next test is against No. 22 Florida in Columbia. 

Missouri is trying to improve to 7-0 for the second time under coach Gary Pinkel. You know that Florida poses a tough challenge for Missouri, but here are 10 things you might not know about the Gators.

10. Gainesville, Fla., where the University of Florida is located, was once known as Hogtown. In 1853, a proposed railroad became the center of controversy when residents realized it would bypass Newnansville, the county seat. Instead of switching the plans for the railroad, citizens decided to build a new town to be the county seat. The new town was located at the site of Hogtown, a 19th century settlement for the Seminoles. It was named Gainesville after general Edmund Pendleton Gaines, who was a commander in the second Seminole War. Even though the site formerly known as Hogtown was annexed in 1961, some Gainesville businesses and events still identify with Hogtown.

9. Gainesville is the home of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Petty, Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench were in a band called "Mudcrutch," which mostly played locally in Gainesville. The three later went on to form "Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers," a much more lucrative operation. 

8. Florida had a live Gator as its mascot from 1957 to 1970. The school then decided it would be safer to have a less-intimidating mascot. That's when the Gator costume was designed, and Albert was born. Since 1986, Albert has been joined on the sideline by his wife, Alberta. While awfully cute, the new mascots don't stack up to the intimidation factor provided by a live alligator. 

7. The Gators also produce plenty of NFL talent. Among the dozens of players Florida has sent to the NFL over the years, two are among the top 15 rushers in the league's history. Emmitt Smith ranks No. 1 in career rushing yards, while Fred Taylor is No. 15 on that list. Between the two former Gators, they have 30,040 NFL rushing yards.

6. Florida is the home of Gatorade. It has become well known that Robert Cade invented Gatorade at Florida in 1965 as a solution to the team losing energy and becoming dehydrated. Most don't realize that the refreshing beverage had a nasty taste at first. But Cade's wife added lemon juice and sugar. The rest is history.

5. Florida fans annoy Georgia fans. The two schools are intense rivals, and that extends to the fan bases. One Georgia fan interviewed in Athens the Friday before Missouri beat Georgia gave Missouri fans an idea of what to expect from Florida fans.

"Their official dress code is cut-off blue jeans, tank tops and weird looking hats," 65-year old Georgia fan David House said. "They are annoying."

4. Actor Stephen Root graduated from Florida. Root is best known for his work as Milton Waddams in "Office Space" and Gordon Pibb in "Dodgeball." Both characters were overly nervous and tightly wound to begin their movies before displaying aggressive outbursts in the end. So maybe that's what the Tigers can expect from the Gators on Saturday.

3. The fast food restaurant Wendy's was named after a Gator. Dave Thomas, who founded Wendy's, named the restaurant after his daughter Melinda Lou "Wendy" Morse, who graduated from Florida in 1983.

2. Florida school colors were decided by a compromise. The University of Florida at Lake City and the East Florida Seminary in Gainesville combined to form the University of Florida. In 1910, the school adopted orange and blue as the school colors. The University of Florida at Lake City had blue and white school colors, while the East Coast Florida Seminary in Gainesville had orange and black. Compromise is a wonderful thing.

1. Florida football was not known as the Gators until 1911, which happened to be the team's only undefeated season. At the end of the season, a local vendor wanted to make banners to commemorate the season but didn't know what nickname to give the team. The name Gators was decided based on a popular student organization at Florida known as the Bo Gator Club, founded in 1907 by  Neal Storter, the center and captain of the 1911 team.

Supervising editor is Greg Bowers.


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