Top 10 non-title teams in Gator history
Published: Sunday, December 16, 2012 at 8:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, December 15, 2012 at 11:02 p.m.
Beating Florida State, LSU, South Carolina and Texas A&M, and being 11-1 and ranked in the top five nationally is a great season by any standard. But it was not a perfect season for the Gators. Nor will it be a championship season.
That’s why coach Will Muschamp is not completely satisfied with his second season at UF. The goal was to get to Atlanta to play for the SEC championship, and the Gators fell a game short.
So the 2012 Gators are in the category of one of the best teams in school history not to win a championship.
They have some company.
Here’s a look at the 10 best teams in UF history that did not win a championship (SEC or national):
10. 1975 (9-3, 5-1 SEC)
Rewind: Led by quarterback Don Gaffney, fullback Jimmy DuBose and wide receiver Wes Chandler, the Gators’ wishbone offense was one of the most lethal in the nation. Among the highlights were big road wins at LSU (34-6), FSU (34-8) and Auburn (31-14).
Championship buster: The No. 11 Gators were upset by Georgia 10-7 on a tight end-around TD pass from Richard Appleby to Gene Washington. The play covered 80 yards.
How it ended: The Gators came out flat in the Gator Bowl and were skunked by No. 17 Maryland 13-0.
9. 1985 (9-1-1, 5-1 SEC)
Rewind: The Gators had great balance on offense (Kerwin Bell throwing, Neal Anderson and John L. Williams running) and a stout defense. UF moved to No. 1 in the nation following a 14-10 win at No. 6 Auburn.
Championship buster: Less than a week after earning the No. 1 ranking, the Gators were done in by their longtime nemesis, falling to Georgia 24-3.
How it ended: The Gators were on NCAA probation, so their bowl game was a 38-14 smackdown of FSU in Gainesville.
8. 1990 (9-2, 6-1 SEC)
Rewind: Steve Spurrier was a huge and instant success when he returned to his alma mater as the head coach. Led by sophomore quarterback Shane Matthews and a dominant defense, the Gators were one of the surprise teams in the nation.
Championship buster: The Gators finished with the best record in the SEC, but were ineligible to claim the title because they were on NCAA probation stemming from alleged violations under Galen Hall. To this day, Spurrier still considers the 1990 Gators the SEC champions.
How it ended: UF’s bid to win 10 games fell short with a 45-30 loss at FSU.
7. 1969 (9-1-1, 3-1-1 SEC)
Rewind: The Super Sophs (John Reaves, Carlos Alvarez and a host of others) made a memorable debut with a huge upset of Houston in the opener, and the Gators won their next five to move up to No. 7 in the nation.
Championship buster: Befuddled by Auburn’s zone defense, Reaves threw a school-record nine interceptions, and the Gators were upset by the Tigers in Auburn 38-12. A week later, the Gators were tied by Georgia 13-13.
How it ended: In Ray Graves’ final game, the Gators beat their future coach (Doug Dickey) and Tennessee 14-13 in the Gator Bowl.
6. 1966 (9-2, 4-1 SEC)
Rewind: After Spurrier had his Heisman Trophy moment in a come-from-behind win over Auburn in which he kicked the game-winning 40-yard field goal in the closing minutes, the Gators were 7-0 and appeared headed to their first SEC title.
Championship buster: Spurrier and the Gators were buried under a brutal Georgia pass rush in a 27-10 upset loss in Jacksonville.
How it ended: The Spurrier playing era ended on a high note, with a convincing 27-12 win over Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl.
5. 2012 (11-1, 7-1 SEC)
Rewind: In one of the greatest turnaround seasons in school history, the Gators had back-to-back road wins at Texas A&M and Tennessee that put UF on an early roll that included big home wins against LSU and South Carolina. The Gators put the exclamation point on their regular season with a 37-26 win at FSU.
Championship buster: Yes, Gator fans, it was Georgia yet again. This time, the Gators turned the ball over six times and lost to the ’Dogs 17-9.
How it ended: TBD in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2 against Louisville.
4. 2001 (10-2, 6-2 SEC)
Rewind: Led by quarterback Rex Grossman and wide receivers Reche Caldwell and Jabar Gaffney, the Gators had one of the most potent passing attacks in the Spurrier era at UF. After the Gators crushed LSU 44-15 in Baton Rouge, Spurrier said he wasn’t sure how an opposing defense could slow down his offense.
Championship buster: Despite an upset loss at Auburn in the sixth game, the Gators had a chance in the final game of the regular season to advance to the SEC title game. But heavy underdog Tennessee ran over the Gators 34-32 in The Swamp in what would be Spurrier’s final game at Florida Field as the Gators’ coach.
How it ended: Grossman and the Gators obliterated Maryland 56-23 in the Orange Bowl in Spurrier’s final game at UF.
3. 1928 (8-1)
Rewind: Before a quarterback named Spurrier came along in the mid-1960s, this was considered the best team in school history, and it wasn’t even close. Featuring the best backfield in the nation, led by Clyde Crabtree, and the school’s first All-American (end Dale Van Sickle), the Gators set a national scoring record with 336 points. The Gators steamrolled their first eight opponents, scoring 60 points or more in three games.
Championship buster: With a likely bid to the Rose Bowl on the line for the undefeated Gators, they were upset 13-12 at Tennessee on an icy field that effectively slowed down UF’s talented and speedy backfield. Legend has it that Tennessee wet down the field the night before.
How it ended: The one-point loss at Tennessee abruptly ended the greatest season in school history.
2. 1984 (9-1-1, 5-0-1 SEC)
Rewind: After getting off to an 0-1-1 start, things only got worse when head coach Charley Pell was fired amid a major NCAA investigation. Galen Hall took over as the interim coach after the third game and the Gators won their next eight games, the highlight being a 27-0 rout of Georgia.
Championship buster: The Gators won the school’s first football SEC title, clinching it with a win at Kentucky. But a few months later, the SEC presidents stripped the Gators of the title in a vote at the league’s spring meetings in Destin.
How it ended: On NCAA probation and with no bowl game to visit, the Gators relieved some of their frustration with a 27-17 victory at Florida State. UF would finish the season No. 1 in the nation in the New York Times final computer poll.
1. 2009 (13-1, 8-1 SEC)
Rewind: With Tim Tebow and many other future NFL players returning from the 2008 national championship team, the Gators opened the season No. 1 and were a heavy favorite to reach the BCS Championship Game. In winning their first 12 games, the Gators had only one close call, needing a late field goal to beat Arkansas 23-20.
Championship buster: The Gators came undone in the SEC title game, losing to Alabama 32-13. That same night, Urban Meyer fell ill and had to be hospitalized. He would resign (for a day) due to health issues on Dec. 26.
How it ended: Knocked out of the BCS title game, the Gators had to settle for the Sugar Bowl, where Tebow would throw for a bowl-record 482 yards in UF’s 51-24 rout of Cincinnati.
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