Coach: Steve Spurrier
Rings and trophies: None, but there should have been. The Gators had the best record in the SEC, but were denied the league championship due to a minor NCAA violation under coach Galen Hall
Signature win: After blowing out Oklahoma State in Spurrier’s first game, the Gators traveled to Tuscaloosa, where the Alabama writers were questioning whether Spurrier’s “finesse” style of football would hold up in the rugged SEC. It held up fine. In a tough, physical battle, the Gators blocked a punt, had a long pass play from Shane Matthews to Ernie Mills that set up a TD in the second half, and the Gators beat Alabama 17-13 on Crimson Tide home turf.
Why this team is No. 10: Many of the same offensive players who struggled to produce in Galen Hall’s offense suddenly took off in Spurrier’s wide-open and balanced offense. Behind Matthews, the SEC player of the year, the Gators went from dull to highly entertaining and effective, giving every indication that some special things were about to happen in Gainesville under Spurrier.
Coach: Steve Spurrier.
Rings and trophies: The Gators won their second official SEC championship under Spurrier, beating Alabama 28-12 in the second conference title game in Birmingham.
Signature win: “Doering’s got a touchdown, Doering’s got a touchdown.” If that final-seconds touchdown pass from Danny Wuerffel to wide receiver Chris Doering doesn’t happen, the Gators lose to Kentucky in Lexington and there’s no telling where the season might have gone from there.
Why this team is No. 9: After the close call at UK in the second game of the season, the Gators took off with Wuerffel, winning seven of their next eight games, a run that clinched the SEC East title. After whipping the Tide in the SEC title game, UF put the exclamation mark on a successful season, thumping West Virginia 41-7 in the Sugar Bowl.
Coach: Steve Spurrier.
Rings and trophies: The Gators won their first official SEC title, going through league play 7-0.
Signature win: Some might say it was the 35-0 rout of Alabama early in the season. But it has to be that last SEC game, at home against Kentucky, that clinched the first SEC title in program history. It wasn’t easy. In fact, this turned out to be the Gators’ toughest SEC game of the season, with UF having to hang on for a 35-26 win against the pesky ‘Cats and quarterback Pookie Jones.
Why this team is No. 8: This goes down as one of the most powerful teams in school history, one that featured a potent offense and a shutdown defense. This was by far the most dominant team in the SEC that year, with the Gators outscoring league opponents by a combined score of 225-74. The defense produced two shutouts, against Alabama and LSU.
Coach: Steve Spurrier.
Rings and trophies: The Gators secured an Orange Bowl trophy by mauling Maryland 56-23.
Signature win: Baton Rouge is always a tough place to play, but the Gators made it look easy this time, routing the LSU Tigers 44-15 behind the throwing of Rex Grossman and the catching of wide receivers Jabar Gaffney, Reche Caldwell and Taylor Jacobs. The Gators looked unbeatable as they headed toward the second half of their season.
Why this team is No. 7: With Grossman and the offense going up and down the field and the defense steady and stout, this came close to being the best team Spurrier had at Florida. But it owns no championship of any kind thanks to an upset loss to Auburn the week after the big win at LSU and a home loss to Tennessee in the last game of the regular season that secured the SEC East for the Vols. This turned out to be Spurrier’s last UF team.
Coach: Galen Hall.
Rings and trophies: The Gators won the school’s first SEC title, but it was stripped by the league a few months later amid revelations of all the NCAA violations that occurred under Charley Pell.
Signature win: In their quest to win the school’s first SEC championship, the Gators were going to have to get by nemesis Georgia, which had reeled off six wins in a row in the rivalry. You could feel the Gator tension heading into the game and for much of the game itself. But that tension disappeared in the fourth quarter with a 96-yard TD pass from Kerwin Bell to Ricky Nattiel that gave the Gators a 24-0 lead. UF went on to win 27-0.
Why this team is No. 6: One could make an argument that this was the most talented team in school history. It featured Kerwin Bell, Ricky Nattiel, Frankie Neal, Neal Anderson, John L. Williams, Lorenzo Hampton and the Great Wall on offense. Tim Newton, Alonzo Johnson, Jarvis Williams and many others on defense. After opening the season 0-1-1 and seeing Pell fired, the Gators won their next nine games and were considered by many to be the best team in college football at the end of the season.