The top 20 Gator football teams of all time: The Top Five

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Gator quarterback Danny Wuerffel, the 1996 national champion and Heisman Trophy winner, was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2013.
No. 5
Year: 2009.
Record: 13-1.
Coach: Urban Meyer.
Rings and trophies: SEC East champions, Sugar Bowl champions.
Signature win: No. 1 Florida fortunately had a week off before its game against No. 4 LSU because Tim Tebow suffered a concussion against Kentucky in the previous game. Tebow was cleared on the day of the game and Florida’s defense was dominant in a 13-3 win that avenged the 2007 loss in Baton Rouge. Tebow only accounted for 172 yards of total offense, but that was 10 more yards than the entire LSU team.
Why this team is No. 5: It was a strange season to say the least, but these guys just kept winning, going undefeated until the SEC title game. There is a misconception that the offense fell apart after Dan Mullen left, but UF finished the season 10th in scoring and sixth in total offense. The Gators finished with the drama of coach Urban Meyer quitting, then coming back the next day and Florida smashing unbeaten Cincinnati in the Sugar Bowl.

No. 4
Year: 1995.
Record: 12-1.
Coach: Steve Spurrier.
Rings and trophies: SEC East champions, SEC champions.
Signature win: As much as everyone remembers the Tennessee game of that year, the Auburn game was really the big one. Florida had lost two in a row to Terry Bowden and it was raining on the Plains that day in this top-10 battle. Despite falling behind 10-0 because of two Danny Wuerffel turnovers, a Reidel Anthony kickoff return for a touchdown got the Gators going and they eventually won 49-38, as Chris Doering caught three touchdown passes.
Why this team is No. 4: If this was an NCAA Tournament Selection Show, we’d talk about all the discussion we had about this team. These Gators are the only team to go unbeaten in the regular season and win the SEC title game. You could certainly make the argument (and several have) that this team was better than one or two of the national championship teams. Unfortunately, the 1995 Gators ran into what may have been the best team of all time in Nebraska and were humiliated. That’s a tough taste to get out of your mouth.

No. 3
Year: 2006.
Record: 13-1.
Coach: Urban Meyer.
Rings and trophies: SEC East champions, SEC champions, National champions.
Signature win: Obviously, the last game was the signature, but the 21-20 win over Tennessee was the co-sign. That game in Knoxville was one of the biggest reasons the Gators got an all-expenses paid trip to Glendale to face Ohio St. In the title game, the Gators gave up an opening kickoff run back by Ted Ginn to start the game and then dominated the rest of the way to win 41-14. Florida only allowed the Buckeyes and Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith 82 total yards in the game.
Why this team is No. 3: It’s rarified air to be on the top three of this program because of the three national titles. This was certainly the least likely of those teams, winning five games by a touchdown or less. That included the famous blocked field goal by Jarvis Moss against South Carolina and the late drive to beat FSU. The Gators had to count on the voters to get in and once they did, they took care of business.

No. 2
Year: 2008.
Record: 13-1.
Coach: Urban Meyer.
Rings and trophies: SEC East champions, SEC champions, National champions.
Signature win: You may say it was the national title game against Oklahoma, but this season was all about the SEC title game against No. 1 Alabama without Percy Harvin. Florida found a way to win 31-20. The Tide led 20-17 heading into the fourth quarter before Tim Tebow led the Gators on drives of 62 and 65 yards in the fourth quarter. Jeff Demps got one score on a perfect pitch from Tebow and Riley Cooper caught a slant to pretty much put it away and send the Gators to Miami.
Why this team is No. 2: There was the hiccup at home against Ole Miss and The Pledge that followed. Everything else was dominant football on both sides of the ball. You could make the argument this was the most talented team ever at UF with so many players who went on to be pros (a year later, Florida had 10 players invited to the NFL Combine).

No. 1
Year: 1996.
Record: 12-1.
Coach: Steve Spurrier.
Rings and trophies: SEC East champions, SEC champions, National champions.
Signature win: No doubt, it was the finale. After losing to FSU in Tallahassee, Spurrier went to the shotgun and demolished the Seminoles by your passcode. Oh, you didn’t want people to know your passcode is 52-20? Anyway, it was an amazing night in the Superdome with Ike Hilliard putting on a show, Danny Wuerffel doing Danny Wuerffel things and Mike Peterson getting that early stop on a fourth-down play.
Why this team is No. 1: Three things put this team over the top.
1. It was the first time. There were grown men crying in the stands.
2. It was Free Shoes University. The rivalry was never more intense than it was in the 1990s. And this win came on the heels of an emotional Spurrier trying to protect a quarterback who had been subjected to late hit after late hit the last time the two teams played.
3. That three-game stretch during the season against No. 12 LSU, No. 16 Auburn and unranked Georgia that Florida won by a combined 154-30.