The top 20 Gator football teams of all time: Nos. 16-20

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Florida running back Lamical Perine scores the game-sealing 88-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter Saturday against Auburn at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.The Gators beat the Tigers 24-13. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

No. 20

Year: 1998.

Record: 10-2.

Coach: Steve Spurrier.

Rings and trophies: Orange Bowl championship.

Signature win: Florida still had a chance to win the SEC and so did Georgia when the two teams met in Jacksonville. The fifth-ranked Gators throttled the 11th-ranked Bulldogs 38-7, scoring the first 21 points of the game and forcing four Georgia turnovers. Doug Johnson threw for 298 yards in the win.

Why this team is No. 20: This was probably the best defensive team of the Spurrier Era and one of the best of all time at Florida. But a boatload of mistakes led to an overtime loss at Tennessee, which won it all and a 23-12 loss at FSU. “Think about it,” said linebacker Johnny Rutledge. “We lost two games we should have won and both were against the teams that played for the national title.”


No. 19

Year: 2012.

Record: 11-2.

Coach: Will Muschamp.

Rings and trophies: None.

Signature win: With a chance to still be in the mix for the national championship game, Florida went into Tallahassee and won against the No. 10 Seminoles 37-26. A powerful running game allowed Florida to dominate the fourth quarter.

Why this team is No. 19: This is not the most popular choice because of the way the Gators were embarrassed in the Sugar Bowl by Louisville at the end of the season. But among the 11 wins were Johnny Manziel’s first game and Texas A&M’s first SEC game, a win at Tennessee the next week and victory over No. 4 LSU. In all, Florida beat four ranked teams.


No. 18

Year: 1975.

Record: 9-3.

Coach: Doug Dickey.

Rings and trophies: None.

Signature win: Florida handled Florida State that season 34-6 as fullback Jimmy DuBose rushed for 204 yards. DuBose finished the season with 1,307 yards in the wishbone offense. Interestingly, Florida did not play a ranked team that year but did make it three in a row over Auburn for the first time since the 1920s. 

Why this team is No. 18: What could have been for this team. The Gators lost by one point at N.C. State on a controversial call and then 10-7 to Georgia. The biggest negative was they were disappointed to be stuck in the Gator Bowl and didn’t show up for a loss to Maryland. But 24 players who were on this team were drafted by the NFL. 


No. 17

Year: 1960.

Record: 9-2.

Coach: Ray Graves.

Rings and trophies: Gator Bowl champions.

Signature win: You may have seen the famous picture of Graves signalling for the Gators to go for two. After a Lindy Infante touchdown, the Gators went for the win and converted on a pass from Larry Libertore to fullback Jon MacBeth to give Florida an 18-17 win over No. 10 Georgia Tech. 

Why this team is No. 17: It was Florida’s first nine-win season, capped off by a win over No. 12 Baylor in the Gator Bowl. Only a 10-7 loss to Auburn kept 5-1 Florida from winning the SEC (Ole Miss finished a half game ahead). 


No. 16

Year: 2019.

Record: 11-2.

Coach: Dan Mullen.

Rings and trophies: Orange Bowl championship.

Signature win: The fans never let up as every play seemed to be huge in Florida’s 24-13 win over No. 7 Auburn. With the ESPN GameDay crew in town and Emmitt Smith on the sidelines, the biggest play was a La’Mical Perine 88-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter that clinched the win.

Why this team is No. 16: To get the Gators back to an 11-win season was important for the program and a second consecutive New Year’s Six bowl game didn’t hurt either. The loss to Georgia stung, but beating both state rivals made the off-season pretty sweet. 

1 COMMENT

  1. While it is hard to argue the 2019 as a higher seed (I would give almost every Spurrier team a top 10), I am intrigued to see where this team ends up relative to other teams. I would characterize the 2019 as overachievers. I know much was hoped before the season began, I don’t know how anyone could have expected a better season. The loss to Georgia hurt and they still suck, but it was not unexpected. I liked this team because it made me feel good about being a Florida Gator again.