In one season under Dan Mullen, the Florida Gators have gone from 4-7 and unranked to a Top-10 program again.
This remarkable turnaround season received its exclamation point early today: the 10-3 Gators are ranked No. 7, tied with Georgia, in the final Associated Press rankings and No. 6 in the final Amway Coaches Poll. It’s UF’s first top-10 finish since 2012, when the 11-2 Gators ended the season in the No. 9 spot coming off a loss to Louisville in the Sugar Bowl.
Unlike the 2012 team, the 2018 Gators finished their season with a flourish — back-to-back one-sided wins over FSU and No. 7 Michigan in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on Dec. 29.
In those final two games, the Gators outscored the Seminoles and Wolverines by a combined 82-29. In the final four games of the season, UF averaged 522.8 yards of total offense and 45 points a game.
The other highlights from a memorable first season under Mullen include a victory over No. 5 LSU in The Swamp, a win at Mississippi State against Mullen’s former team, a 47-21 rout of Tennessee in Knoxville and winning the Vanderbilt and South Carolina games after being down by 17 points in both. LSU is ranked No. 6 in the final poll.
Mullen joins Galen Hall (1985) as only first-year head coaches in Florida history to finish the season inside the top 10.
Mullen is the third head coach in history to win 10 games in a debut season with a current Power Five program after inheriting a team that won less than five games the previous year. The other two were Stanford’s Clark Shaughnessy (1-7-1 in 1939, 10-0 in 1940) and Auburn’s Gus Malzhan (3-9 in 2012, 12-2 in 2013).
Meanwhile, Florida is one of five FBS teams that finished under .500 last year and won 10 games this season, and 2018 marks the second-largest turnaround in school history.
The Gators open the 2019 season against Miami on Aug. 31 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando.
Clemson finished No. 1 in The Associated Press poll for the third time after routing Alabama in the national championship game.
The Tigers received all 61 first-place votes. The Crimson Tide, which was trying to become just the third team to go wire-to-wire as the No. 1 team in the country, finished second. Clemson beat Alabama 44-16 in the College Football Playoff national championship Monday night. Clemson also finished No. 1 in 2016 and 1981.
The coaches had LSU at No. 7 and Georgia at No. 8.
Final AP Top 25
|1. Clemson (61)||15-0||1525||2|
|3. Ohio St.||13-1||1364||5|
|5. Notre Dame||12-1||1286||3|
|10. Washington St.||11-2||959||12|
|16. Texas A&M||9-4||552||21|
|17. Penn St.||9-4||492||13|
|18. Fresno St.||12-2||466||19|
|20. West Virginia||8-4||296||15|
|22. Utah St.||11-2||188||NR|
|23. Boise St.||10-3||184||23|
Others receiving votes: Appalachian St. 96, Stanford 52, Mississippi St. 45, Utah 43, UAB 32, Iowa St. 26, Auburn 15, Oregon 11, Missouri 10, Troy 6, Georgia Southern 6, Oklahoma St. 3, Wisconsin 2, NC State 2.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.