Great Teams Without a National Title - Part 5

We are almost through with our look at the six greatest non national championship seasons in Gator football history. Choosing these six games has been challenging, and I tried to focus on the element of surprise and historical significance in making the selections I did.

Remember next week, the half dozen best non NCAA Title Gator basketball seasons and the following week we'll examine great seasons other Gator teams had that didn't quite include a national title.

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

#6 -- 1966
#5 -- 1984
#4 -- 1960
#3 -- 1991

#2 1928 -----
I'll admit up front I know very little about the 1928 Florida Gators, but you don't have to know all that much to appreciate what an amazing season this was. The Gators won their first eight games and only one of them was decided by fewer than 20 points.

The 1928 Gators were looking to build on a 7-3 season the year before and did they ever. Florida opened the season with three consecutive shutouts, besting Florida Southern (26-0), Auburn (27-0) and Mercer (73-0). Then came the only tough game of the regular season, a 14-7 verdict over North Carolina State.

Sewanee was next and the University of the South wished it had missed the train to Jacksonville after a 71-6 embarrassment. Then came wins over Georgia (26-6), Clemson (27-6) and Washington & Lee (60-6) to improve to 8-0 on the season.

At this point the Gators were perhaps the most dominating team in the nation, scoring more than 40 points a game while allowing just 31 points in the eight games combined. They were told that an invitation to the Rose Bowl was theirs IF they could beat Tennessee in the season finale.

Legend has it Tennessee watered the field all week long to try and negate Florida's significant speed advantage. Well, the Vols might claim innocence on that score, but it didn't rain that day and the field was a quagmire. Tennessee literally slipped past the Gators 13-12 and that was that. Can you imagine how the history of Florida football might have been different had the Gators played in and won the Rose Bowl? There's no way to know, but it would have made Gainesville a destination for top players years before that ever happened.

I chose this season because it was the first great team in school history. It not only showed a great team could be assembled in Gainesville, it also began the tradition of the Gators breaking their fans' hearts in the biggest game of the year.

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


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