Ranking Gators’ all-time great teams

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New Orleans, LA. -- The University of Florida Gators pose for a team photo after winning the Sugar Bowl and the 1996 National Championship against FSU with a final score of 52-20. (Sun file photo)

FACTS THAT MATTER

OK, maybe this is more opinion than fact. With the 1993 team being honored (the 25-year anniversary of a team that beat Alabama in the SEC title game) at Saturday night’s game, Sun sports columnist Pat Dooley with some help from Head Football Consultant Steve Spurrier wondered where the ’93 team would come in among the all-time Gator great teams. So here’s a top 10:

  1. The 1996 team: They were the first to win it all and the one loss was by three points to No. 2 FSU on the road, a loss it would rectify with a vengeance.
  2. The 2008 team: No team had better players or more pros. The tiebreaker is that it lost at home to unranked Ole Miss.
  3. The 2006 team: Won the national title in dominating fashion after not dominating many teams to get there. But it got there.
  4. The 1995 team: OK, the Fiesta Bowl was a disaster. But it was the first to finish the regular season unbeaten and won the SEC and first to play for the title.
  5. The 1993 team: First to win 11 games and first to win a Sugar Bowl. SEC Championship Game win might have been the best ever.
  6. The 2009 team: Undefeated during the regular season before it ran into Alabama. Won the Sugar Bowl.
  7. The 1984 team: They won the SEC for the first time. Don’t tell them they did not.
  8. The 1994 team: Won the SEC and finished No. 7 in the nation.
  9. The 1991 team: The HBC would include the 1990 team as well. But this one was the first to win an official SEC crown.
  10. The 2001 team: You could argue that 2000 belongs here because it won the SEC. But that ’01 team was special, losing two games by a total of five points and finishing No. 3 in the nation.

 

20 COMMENTS

  1. God Almighty, 1984 was a long time ago, let alone 1991 or 1996. Seems just like yesterday, but then, so does yesterday.

    One more try: Paging Leland. Leland, come in. Your dry cleaning is ready for pick up.

    Tell you what, I have a hunch the best chapters in Florida Football are yet to be written; hope they’re written by Pat & Robbie, and that I’m around to read them. Go 🐊

  2. I’m pretty sure of my facts here, but it’s never mentioned in articles and seems to have been forgotten, but when we played FSU the first time in 1996 and only lost by 3 points, the flu was going through the team in a big way and we had a lot of guys down and/or out of the game. It was maybe like 7 starters and who knows how many others that needed to play but were limited or didn’t play. When it ended up just a 3 point loss despite that flu situation, and when things worked out for us to play for the national championship, I knew that it would be no contest. It was a fun game.

  3. Glade you put 1984 in there, what a team of MEN, the Wall and Neil Anderson! 1996 Semi-hole regular season game: Remember they staged the pre-game fight with our starter getting kicked out (don’t recall his name) and their deep subs getting kicked out. Plus, it was criminal the way the refs didn’t protect Danny. That game is the reason, football wise, I have NO respect for Mickey Andrews and Bobby Bowden. I know it was football, but their decisions to fight and hit late was a low life decision. They knew they couldn’t win a fair fight.

    • That ’84 team made me a Gator fan when I was a kid – it was stout – the roster stacked with future NFL players. Just the backfield alone had Lorenzo Hampton, Neal Anderson, and John L. Williams! – The O-line had Lomas Brown Kerr, Bromley, Zimmerman with Ricky Nattiel at wide receiver. They helped create the foundation for the great Gator teams to follow.

  4. Isn’t it wonderful to debate the order of greatness. I have 3 of those Coca Cola bottles. My wife gives me a hard time every time she sees them, but there not going anywhere. I started at UF in 1984 so I have to admit my bias. I would push the ’84 team up a few notches even though it was a Pell built team. Galen Hall righted the ship after the first few games. That team and the teams that followed showed Georgia that it was no longer going to own Florida every year. Although some would say it was Spurrier’s teams, I would argue the ’84 team was the beginning of the waking up of the sleeping giant as foretold by Bear Bryant.

  5. A late fourth quarter interception against Terry Bowden’s Auburn and an epic unimaginable fourth quarter meltdown for the ages against Bobby Bowden’s FSU, and that ‘94 team is in the top 4 on this list. ‘93 and ‘94 were the building blocks for ‘96, but what a ride the nineties was. The best is yet to come! Go Gators!

  6. 1998 was very close to playing for a NC as well. Lost to Tennessee on a missed chip shot FG after 5 turnovers and should have beaten FSU in Tally after Gerard Warren fell on an Outzen fumble in the end zone but they didn’t count the TD and M&M let a pick 6 go thru his hands and the richochet turned into a Warrick TD. If we beat FSU that day, it would’ve been a rematch vs Tennessee for the NC.

  7. It’s hard to argue against the ’96 team at #1 but I would say the post-Ole Miss ’08 Gators were one of if not the most dominant teams not only in Gators history, but in all of college football history as well. I’m convinced that no team before or since could have beaten those ’08 Gators after that first loss. They had pair of 30-point victories over #4 LSU and #23 FSU as well as a 39-point win over #8 Georgia. The kicker was a full 50-point smacking of #24 South Carolina. Then they go on to best Saban’s first great #1 Bama team 31-20 before holding the then-highest scoring offense in college football history in #1 Oklahoma to 14 points for the title.

    The ’96 squad were stout in their own right, with 43 and 41-point wins over #12 LSU and #16 Auburn respectively to go along with a six point victory over #2 Tennessee. They beat out #11 Bama by 15 points for the SEC title and stomp #1 FSU 52-20 for the natty.

    Overall, it’s close enough that you could make viable arguments in either direction. I have to believe that if you could use a time machine to play both teams against one another, the ’08 team would come out victorious, though probably not by a lot.

    Either way, it’s a great problem to have to argue which team was more amazing. Go Gators!

    • Not quite. Florida beat FSU for six straight games from 1981-1986. Charley Pell was head coach during the first three, then was replaced by Hall three games into 1984. Hall led the Gators to the next three. Hall was a likeable guy.

  8. Very safe list. More of a ‘first to do this’ rather than ‘who had the best season’.
    My top 10:
    1. 2008 – would beat anyone else on list, even with a timeline adjustment
    2. 1996 – only lost on road by 3 vs #1 defense
    3. 1995 – best regular season ever, only loss to best team ever
    4. 2001 – w/ RB Graham, honestly could’ve beaten great Miami team that year
    5. 2006 – no one saw BCSCG performance coming, best time to reveal team’s peak
    6. 2009 – sleep-walked through regular season, laid an egg in ATL, waxed undefeated Cinci
    7. 1993 – ho-hum until final 2 games vs Bama and WV
    8. 1990 – better D than ’91, Matthews fewer INTs than ’91
    9. 1994 – ranked #1 for much of the year – Choke at Doak, but was good enough to get up 31-3 in the first place, so…
    10. 1984 – Had stars littered throughout offense, but known for great D.

    Honorable Mention: 1969, 1990, 1985, 1983, 2012, 1997, 1998