Gators excited for night game

The Florida fan base has been clamoring for it, and for the first time since November 2011, the Gators will host a night game on Saturday against Arkansas. The fan base isn't the only group excited about it. The Florida players know it's a big deal. They've seen the atmosphere for big games, whether as a recruit or a player, and believe The Swamp has a different energy at night.

"That first night game is definitely going to be good," Florida running back Matt Jones said. "A night game in the Swamp -- there ain't nothing like a night game in the Swamp. The fans are going to be crazy. It's going to be a great atmosphere."

The last night game came against Florida State on November 26, 2011. The Florida offense struggled throughout much of Will Muschamp's first season as the head coach, and that night was no different. The Gators suffered a 21-7 defeat to Florida State after posting 184 yards of offense and holding the Seminoles to 95 yards. Three interceptions by quarterback John Brantley proved to be the difference maker.

There weren't many positive memories from that night for the players. The recruits saw an electric atmosphere at the start of the game, but one it got started, Florida's play quieted the crowd and limited the energy of The Swamp.

Dante Fowler was in the stands of the south end zone that night. He was committed to Florida State at the time, but the energy from a night game in The Swamp caught his attention that night.

"I used to come watch, when I was in high school, watch the night games and they're crazy live," Fowler said. "It looks fun. It's going to be a fun experience. I can't wait. I'm pretty pumped for that to me my first night game in the Swamp."

It means a lot to the senior class, too.

They didn't have a night game last year as juniors. There was some fear among the group that they might have seen their last night game in The Swamp. When the time for the Arkansas game was announced on Sunday, senior defensive back Jaylen Watkins was relieved to know he would have at least one more chance to soak in the atmosphere of The Swamp under the lights.

"It means a lot, especially because it's my last year," Watkins said. "Last year we didn't get a game at night in the Swamp. I'm happy I'm able to get one in my final year."

Muschamp knows what it's like to be on the other sideline during a night game in Gainesville. He was Auburn's defensive coordinator when the Tigers won on a field goal as time expired under the lights of The Swamp in 2007.

When the lights come on, Muschamp believes The Swamp takes on a different look.

"Loud," he said. "We've got the best fans in the country. I've been here on the opposing sideline. There is a difference."

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