Great Teams Without a National Title - Part 3

This will turn out to be another outstanding All-Sports year for the Florida Gators even though no Gator team came home with a national title. The Florida softball team gave it a shot, finishing third in the College World Series, coming closer to winning it all than any other Florida team this school year.

It got me thinking about all the outstanding years Gators have had without winning it all. Let's face it, NCAA or AIAW titles are incredible things and UF can proudly point to 21 such trophies over the years. But so many teams have posted great years that didn't quite reach that level.

Therefore for the next three weeks we'll salute some of the best teams in UF history that did not claim the biggest trophy of them all. This week we start off with a six pack of remarkable football seasons. Next week we'll follow that up with six basketball seasons of note, and then six more articles that will salute great seasons from a number of other Gator teams.

Today is part three of the best football seasons that didn't earn national titles.

#6 -- 1966
#5 -- 1984

#4 1960 -----
No young Gator fans, and not too many older ones fully appreciate what a special season this was. It was the Gators' first season under new head man Ray Graves and came shockingly close to being a perfect season. That's pretty impressive when you consider Graves inherited a team that went 5-4-1 the year before and a program that had not won more than six games in any of the seven previous seasons.

The Gators opened with wins over George Washington (30-7) and Florida State (3-0) but it was week three that got everyone's attention. The unranked Gators rallied to shock Bobby Dodd's Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 18-17 and earned a national ranking as a result.

That ranking didn't last long as the euphoric Gators couldn't come down to earth in just one week and lost to Rice 10-0. Wins over Vanderbilt (12-0) and LSU (13-10) got the Gators back on track, but a heartbreaking 10-7 loss to Auburn took the Gators off the top perch in the SEC standings. Florida finished strongly, beating Georgia (22-14), Tulane (21-6) and Miami (18-0) to wrap up the regular season 8-2.

Graves' Gators made it a record-setting season by beating Baylor 13-12 in the Gator Bowl, giving the University of Florida its first nine-win season.

I chose this season because of what it meant to the program not only for a year but for the decade of the '60s. Graves coached the Gators for the entire decade, posting nine winning seasons, three nine-win seasons and the best decade in school history.

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Larry Vettel


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