Less than two months from the scheduled kickoff of the 2020 season, expectations are high for the Florida Gators’ football program.
Returning redshirt senior quarterback Kyle Trask and four starters on the offensive line, plus adding exciting redshirt sophomore transfer tailback Lorenzo Lingard, Dan Mullen’s offense appears primed to be one of the most potent in the Southeastern Conference.
This article, however, will not focus on the upcoming year. Instead, we will look back at the last 50 seasons of Gators football, dating back to 1970.
Unveiled on July 2, The Athletic staff writer Matt Brown released his rankings of the 25 most dominant programs in this time frame (subscription required), with the Alabama Crimson Tide, who have captured nine national championships since 1973, leading the way.
Brown’s list scored programs in 23 different categories, including wins/winning percentage, seasons with a .900 win percentage, losing seasons, and average point differential.
The Oklahoma Sooners, Ohio State Buckeyes, Nebraska Cornhuskers and Southern California Trojans completed his top-five.
Occupying the No. 9 spot, Florida was the second SEC program to appear on the list.
“Florida did not actually win an SEC championship until 1984, and that title was vacated,” Brown began.
“Its first official SEC title didn’t come until 1991, the first of eight won by Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer – who also brought a combined three national championships to Gainesville.
“Like in-state rivals Florida State and Miami, the Gators were an afterthought for much of the 1970s. Their sustained dominance didn’t come until Spurrier, the 1966 Heisman winner, returned and unleashed the Fun ‘n’ Gun on the SEC.
“The Gators are a solid top-10 program in this time, but they rank in the top-five in only two categories: losing seasons (five) and wins against top-10 opponents (50). They haven’t had an undefeated season and are the highest-ranked school on this list that has a winning percentage below .700, with most of their top-level success concentrated in the 1990s and 2000s.”
Other SEC programs to make the list were the LSU Tigers at No. 13, Georgia Bulldogs at No. 14, Auburn Tigers at No. 16, Tennessee Volunteers at No. 17, Texas A&M Aggies at No. 20, and Arkansas Razorbacks at No. 25.
Representing nearly one-third of the schools to make the cut, the SEC’s eight selections were three more than the next closest conference, the Big Ten and Pacific-12 with five each. The Atlantic Coast Conference had four programs appear, led by the Seminoles at No. 6, and the Big 12 had two honorees, with the No. 12 Texas Longhorns joining Oklahoma.
The independent Notre Dame Fighting Irish rounded out the 25 schools.
Featuring a non-conference slate consisting of the Eastern Washington Eagles (September 5), South Alabama Jaguars (September 19), New Mexico State Aggies (November 21) and Florida State (November 28) and avoiding Alabama and Auburn out of the West Division, who knows, perhaps this fall the Gators will finally record that first unbeaten season in program history.
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