Florida at 4-4: How have the Gators closed out their seasons before?

Zach Abolverdi
Gator Sports

Florida fell to .500 on the year with Saturday’s 34-7 loss to No. 1 Georgia

The Gators now have a 4-4 record for just the fifth time in the last 35 years. With four games remaining on the schedule, UF has an opportunity to double its win total by the end of this month. 

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Here’s how the other four 4-4 teams at Florida finished out their seasons. 

Florida receiver Ricky Nattiel celebrates after a touchdown pass from quarterback Kerwin Bell during the 1986 Florida-Georgia game in Jacksonville.

1986: Disappointment in the mid-1980s

After back-to-back years with the best record in the SEC, Florida opened the 1986 season with a win over Georgia Southern before dropping four consecutive games for the first time since 1979. UF hosted top-five opponents in consecutive weeks — losing to No. 2 Miami (23-15) and No. 4 Alabama (21-7) — before falling at Mississippi State (16-10) and getting beat by No. 18 LSU (28-17) at home. The Gators responded by winning four games in a row and five of their last six, including an 18-17 win over No. 5 Auburn. They also beat No. 19 Georgia, 31-19, and in-state rival Florida State in Tallahassee (17-13). Florida’s only blemish in the final month and a half of the season was a 10-3 loss at Kentucky. The Gators finished 1986 with a 6-5 record and didn’t lose again in Lexington until this year. 

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Florida coach Ron Zook is doused with water by his players following the Gators' 20-13 win over Florida State in Tallahassee on Nov. 20, 2004.

2004: Ron Zook on the hot seat

Following an 8-5 record in his first two seasons, UF coach Ron Zook was on the hot seat entering Year 3. He opened SEC play with his third consecutive loss to No. 13 Tennessee, 30-28, which would be the Vols’ last win in the rivalry until 2016. After beating unranked Kentucky (20-3) and Arkansas (45-30), the Gators lost their next top-25 matchup vs. No. 24 LSU (24-21). They blew out Middle Tennessee the following week, but then suffered a 38-31 upset loss in Starkville against a 1-5 Mississippi State team. Zook was fired two days later and the Gators lost their next game — 31-24 to No. 7 Georgia — to fall to 4-4. However, Zook finished out the regular season and led his team to three consecutive wins over Vanderbilt (34-17), South Carolina (48-14) and No. 10 Florida State (20-13). UF lost to Miami in the Peach Bowl and went 7-5.

Alabama running back Trent Richardson picks up yardage against Florida during the Oct. 1, 2011 game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

2011: Will Muschamp's uneven first year

The Will Muschamp era began a decade ago and Florida jumped out to a 4-0 start in 2011, including conference wins against Tennessee and Kentucky. That set up a top-15 matchup with No. 3 Alabama, but UF starting quarterback John Brantley was injured in the 38-10 loss to the eventual national champions. The Gators dropped their next three games at No. 1 LSU (41-11), at No. 24 Auburn (17-6) and vs. No. 22 Georgia (24-20). The four-game losing streak ended with a 26-21 victory over Vanderbilt, but Florida lost 17-12 at No. 15 South Carolina the following week. After beating Furman, the Gators suffered their sixth loss — for the first time since 1987 — to Florida State (21-7) in the regular-season finale. UF bounced back in the Gator Bowl with a 24-17 win over Ohio State to finish 7-6. 

Florida State running back James Wilder Jr. (32) breaks free on a run against Florida in the Nov. 30, 2013 game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

2013: An even tougher year for Muschamp

Expectations were high for Muschamp in Year 3 following an 11-2 season in 2012. After a season-opening win over Toledo, the Gators had a disappointing 21-16 loss at Miami in Week 2. They improved to 4-1 with three consecutive wins over Tennessee (31-17), Kentucky (24-7) and Arkansas (30-10), but then their injury-riddled season fell apart. Florida dropped to 4-4 with losses at No. 10 LSU (17-6), at No. 14 Missouri (36-17) and vs. Georgia (23-20). UF had a chance to get back on track against Vanderbilt, but the Commodores won in Gainesville (34-17) for the first time since 1945. Things got uglier two weeks later with a 26-20 loss to Georgia Southern in The Swamp. The Gators ended the year on a seven-game losing streak to finish 4-8, suffering their first losing season since 1979. 

Saturday's game vs. South Carolina

Who: Florida (4-4, 2-4 SEC) vs. South Carolina (4-4, 1-4)

When: 7:30 p.m. 

Where: Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, S.C.

TV: SEC Network

Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850