Florida Football: The Worst Season Openers over the Last 10 Years
The Florida Gators football team is known for many things. Three national championships over the past 15 seasons, several SEC championships, the annual World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party in Jacksonville, FL against the Georgia Bulldogs, the annual showdown against cross-state rival Florida State Seminoles and several now-great NFL players.
Unfortunately, the Gators are also known for scheduling some serious patsies to start off their football seasons. Some argue that the SEC is too tough of a conference not to schedule soft out-of-conference teams, while others point to the end-of-season game against FSU as a tough non-conference opponent.
Regardless, the Gators should be ashamed of themselves scheduling such soft teams to start their seasons. That being said, some are softer than others.
Let's review the opening games from the past 10 seasons, and rank them from bad to worst.
2008: Hawai'i Rainbows, 56-10
Starting the 2008 season, Tim Tebow had just won the Heisman Trophy the previous season, and they would go on to win their second BCS title in three years.
The Rainbows of the University of Hawai'i arrived in Gainesville and were thoroughly whipped. Many scored for the Gators that day including the backup QB, some guy by the name of Cameron Newton.
Hawai'i ranks as the least worst team of the past 10 seasons since it was and is somewhat respectable.
2006: Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles, 34-7
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Starting the 2006 season, a freshman by the name of Tim Tebow sat behind starter Chris Leak, but he would score his first-ever TD against the Golden Eagles of Southern Miss.
Also, the 1996 Florida Gators national championship team was honored prior to the start of the game.
That all being said, that's about all that can be said about this blowout. The Golden Eagles did score first after taking advantage of a Leak interception, but the Gators went on to score 34 unanswered points.
2010: Miami University Redhawks, 34-12
Florida's defense was responsible for 21 of the 34 points scored that day due to the four turnovers it caused. To say the Gators offense was woeful would be an understatement.
2003: San Jose State Spartans, 65-3
QB Ingle Martin
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In 2003, the San Jose State University Spartans came calling on the Florida Gators in Gainesville, and left with their tails between their legs after having 65 points hung on them.
Do Gator fans remember starting QB Ingle Martin? Perhaps not many since true freshman Chris Leak, the head coach Ron Zook's prized recruit, would soon take over the starting role.
The Spartans scored first with a field goal in the first quarter, but that would be it. San Jose State made the Florida Gators look like superheroes on that wonderful day.
2005: Wyoming Cowboys, 32-14
Two noteworthy things about this "epic" showdown to kick off the 2005 season: first, Urban Meyer's debut as the head coach of the Florida Gators, and second, QB Chris Leak's 17 consecutive completions that set a new record in the SEC.
The Wyoming Cowboys have the distinction of playing their home games in Laramie, and their field is the highest elevation in all of FBS schools. That didn't help the team much playing at or below sea level in Gainesville, that's for sure.
2004: Eastern Michigan Eagles, 49-10
This game was the last season opener for the infamous Ron Zook, and the only exciting thing that happened was a hour-plus delay in the second quarter due to inclement weather. Other than that, this was one boring game.
2002: University of Alabama-Birmingham Blazers, 51-3
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Out goes the "Ol' Ball Coach" Steve Spurrier, and enter Ron Zook to run the Florida Gators football program. It started with a bang when the "Zookster" took down the Blazers in fine fashion 51-3.
UAB was entering its 11th season in 2002.
2007: Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, 49-3
As the third worst opening season game on this list, the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers came in on Sept. 1, 2007 to face the defending national champions and the almighty Tim Tebow, who would end up winning the Heisman Trophy.
Seriously, why couldn't AD Jeremy Foley simply schedule the Kentucky Wildcats to open the season? He could have killed two birds with one stone: schedule a SEC foe and have a patsy to begin the season.
2011: Florida Atlantic University Owls, 41-3
To start off Will Muschamp's career as the head coach of the Florida Gators, the FAU Owls out of Boca Raton, FL came calling with their legendary coach, Howard Schnellenberger. Former legendary FSU coach Bobby Bowden was also in the house to welcome Muschamp, and the Gators put on a decent show for all who were in attendance.
This game was one of the few highlights of the 2011 season. Urban Meyer left a mess behind for Muschamp to clean up, but at least the Owls gave the Gator Nation something to smile about early in the season.
2009: Charleston Southern Buccaneers, 61-3
And the winner of the absolute worst opening season game for the Florida Gators from the past 10 years is the Charleston Southern Buccaneers, a FCS school. To say that this was a pathetic game would be too kind. I wish there was something I could say positive about this game other than it was another victory for the Gators to start a season.