Unbeaten UF teams have fared well after first losses


Florida coach Will Muschamp needs a strong finish after a disappointing loss to Georgia that ended his team's perfect start.

Doug Finger/Staff photographer
Published: Friday, November 2, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, November 2, 2012 at 12:14 a.m.

Only a week ago, the Florida Gators were looking strong and feeling almost unbeatable. They were undefeated, ranked No. 3 in the country, No. 2 in the BCS Standings and considered very much a player in the national championship race.

Now, many around Gator Nation — and the nation — are wondering how the Gators are going to respond to a devastating loss to Georgia that potentially has changed the course of the season.

Will they rebound? Or will they let the Georgia loss linger and lose again.

This isn't the first Florida team to be in this position. Down through the decades, the Gators have had seven other teams that have gotten deep into the season undefeated only to lose a crucial game.

History is on the 2012 team's side. Most of those other undefeated Florida teams (at least six games into the season) responded favorably to that first loss.

Here's a look at what happened to the undefeated Florida teams after that first loss:

Year: 1928.

The streak: One of the nation's most powerful teams, the Gators rolled up 323 points in getting off to an 8-0 start, and were one win away (Tennessee) from earning a berth in the Rose Bowl.

Streak breaker: Legend has it that Tennessee wet down the field the day before the game and it froze overnight, slowing down the vaunted UF offense. The Gators managed only 12 points in a 13-12 loss.

What followed: The loss ended Florida's season, which is considered one of the greatest in school history. The Gators went 8-2 the following season.

Year: 1966.

The streak: Led by senior quarterback Steve Spurrier, who would win the Heisman Trophy, the Gators got off to a 7-0 start, the highlights being a 28-7 win at LSU and a 30-27 victory over Auburn in which Spurrier kicked the winning 40-yard field goal.

Streak breaker: Hopes of an undefeated season and first SEC title were shattered by Georgia in Jacksonville. Defensive ends Bill Stanfill and George Patton were all over Spurrier throughout the game and the 'Dogs rolled 27-10.

What followed: The Gators rebounded with a 31-10 victory over Tulane the following week, then lost to Miami in Gainesville. UF wrapped up a 9-2 season, one of the best in Gator history, with a 27-12 win over Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl.

Year: 1969

The streak: Led by quarterback John Reaves and wide receiver Carlos Alvarez, the Super Sophs emerged with a stunning upset of Houston, 59-34, in the opener and won the next five games to go to 6-0.

Streak breaker: The confident Gators traveled to Auburn expecting to become the first UF team to win at Cliff Hare Stadium. It didn't happen. Reaves threw nine interceptions and the Tigers rolled 38-12.

What followed: The Gators had to settle for a 13-13 tie with Georgia the following week. Then they beat Kentucky, Miami and Tennessee (in the Gator Bowl) to finish 9-1-1, one of the best seasons in school history.

Year: 1995

The streak: Led by quarterback Danny Wuerffel, this became the first team in school history to go undefeated in the regular season, going 12-0, including a victory over Arkansas in the SEC Championship Game.

Streak breaker: The Gators were very confident going into the national title game against Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl, but the powerful Cornhuskers, led by Tommie Frazier, steamrolled Florida 62-24.

What followed: Shortly after the conclusion of the 12-1 season. Spurrier nearly left to become the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He stayed and led the Gators to their first national title the following season.

Year: 1996

The streak: With Wuerffel having a Heisman-winning season, the Gators appeared unstoppable, winning their first 10 games and clinching the SEC East title.

Streak breaker: The Seminoles unleashed a brutal pass rush on Wuerffel in the season finale and FSU upset UF 24-21 in Tallahassee.

What followed: The Gators rebounded with a resounding victory over Alabama (45-30) in the SEC title game to earn a rematch with FSU in the Sugar Bowl for the national title. Wuerffel and the Gators made the most of their mulligan, routing their in-state rival 52-20 to claim UF's first national championship in football.

Year: 2006

The streak: After winning early in the season in Knoxville, the Gators, in Urban Meyer's second year, beat Alabama and LSU in back-to-back home games to go to 6-0.

Streak breaker: Like the 1969 team, the Gators could not get past Auburn in Auburn, getting upset by the Tigers 27-17

What followed: The Gators started another winning streak, capturing their next six games to reach the BCS Championship Game against No. 1 Ohio State in Glendale, Ariz. After winning ugly for most of the season, UF put together a masterpiece in the biggest game of the year, routing the Buckeyes 41-14 to finish 13-1.

Year: 2009

The streak: Despite immense pressure to be perfect throughout the season, the No. 1 Gators and Tim Tebow managed to win their first 12 games, setting up a showdown with No. 2 Alabama in the SEC title game with a spot in the BCS Championship Game on the line.

Streak breaker: In Atlanta, the Crimson Tide dominated both lines of scrimmage and contained Tebow. The result was a crushing 32-13 loss for Meyer and the Gators.

What followed: In a week when Meyer resigned, then returned, the Gators rebounded from the Alabama loss in a big way, clubbing undefeated Cincinnati 51-24 in the Sugar Bowl to finish 13-1.

Year: 2012

The streak: The surprising Gators got off to a 7-0 start that included back-to-back road wins at Texas A&M and Tennessee and big home victories over LSU and South Carolina.

Streak breaker: The Gators turned the ball over six times and fell to Georgia 17-9 in Jacksonville last Saturday.

What followed: TBD.

Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or andreur@gvillesun.com. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.

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