Florida Football: 10 Best Bowl Victories in School History

Nick de la TorreCorrespondent IDecember 13, 2011

Florida Football: 10 Best Bowl Victories in School History

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    The Florida Gators have a long football history, a history that includes conference and national championships. 

    For all the recent success Florida has had, they boast just a .500 record in bowl games all-time. The Gators have played in 38 bowl games, winning 19 and losing 19. 

    Their 39th bowl game will take place on January 2nd, 2012, in the Gator bowl against Ohio State. It will be just the second time that Florida and Ohio State have faced each other, with the Gators winning the first matchup 41-14 in the 2006 National Championship.

    In preparation for that game, let's take a look at the 10 best wins in Florida football bowl history.  

1994 Sugar Bowl

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    Matchup: Florida vs. West Virginia  

    Significance: Florida's Largest Margin of Victory in a Bowl Game 


    Ericht Rehtt was named the MVP, rushing 25 times for 105 yards and three touchdowns. Although Rhett was named the game MVP, it was Lawrence Wright who stole the show with his 52-yard interception-return for a touchdown. Wright picked the ball off around the Gators 48-yard line and ran all over the field, sideline-to-sideline, avoiding the Mountaineers on his way to the end zone. 

    West Virginia scored first on a 32-yard touchdown pass, but it was all Florida from there on out as the Gators would go on to score 41 unanswered points to win the game 41-7.

2011 Outback Bowl

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    Matchup: Florida vs. Penn State 

    Significance: Urban Meyer's Last Game as Head Coach of Florida

    The Florida Gators struggled through their worst season in the Urban Meyer era in 2010-2011. The Gators went 8-4 in the regular season and faced off against Penn State in the Outback Bowl. 

    The game was back and forth from the first quarter with five lead changes throughout the game. 

    The Gators would go on to win the game 37-24 after senior safety Ahmad Black took an interception 80 yards for a score. Black was also named the Outback Bowl MVP, recording two interceptions for 129 yards and a touchdown. 


2006 Outback Bowl

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    Matchup: Florida vs. Iowa 

    Significance: Urban Meyer Ties Ray Graves and Steve Spurrier for Most Wins in First Season as Head Coach at Florida


    The Gators survived a late rally from the Hawkeyes with what some believe was some help from the officials.

    Trailing 31-24, Iowa attempted and recovered an onside kick only to be flagged for being offside. On the next attempt, Florida was able to recover and put the game on ice. 

    Dallas Baker had a big day for the Gators, hauling in 10 receptions for 147 yards and two scores. 

1988 All American Bowl

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    Matchup: Florida vs. Illinois 

    Significance: Gators Come Back To Win on an Emmitt Smith Touchdown 

    The Gators were first on the board when Emmitt Smith broke a 55-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Illinois would score the next 10 points with a touchdown in the second quarter and a field goal in the fourth. 

    The Gators drove down the field, and Smith would score his second touchdown of the game with less than four minutes remaining in the game. The Gators would go on to hold-off Illinois and win the game 14-10. 

1969 Gator Bowl

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    Matchup: Florida vs. Tennessee 

    Significance: Ray Graves' Last Game as Head Coach and the Return of Doug Dickey to Coach His Alma Mater


    The 1969 Gator Bowl was the 25th edition of the bowl game and pitted two SEC teams against each other.  

    Florida would win the game 14-13 and send head coach Ray Graves off with a win in his final game as head coach. The game would also feature Florida's future head coach, as Tennessee's Doug Dickey would later accept the head-coaching position at Florida. For Dickey, it was a chance to return to his alma mater and coach the Gators. But it must be one of the few, if not only, times that a coach has taken over a team after losing to them in a bowl game.  

1953 Gator Bowl

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    Matchup: Florida vs. Tulsa 

    Significance: First Bowl Win in Florida Football History

     

    The Gators technically won their first bowl game in 1912. The Gators beat Vedado Athletic Club 28-0 in what was then the Bacardi Bowl, but the university does not recognize this win or include it in their official bowl record. 

    With that game not being counted by the university, the 1953 Gator bowl becomes the Gators' first bowl appearance and victory. 

    Florida was first to score, scoring touchdowns in the first and second quarters, but they were shut out the rest of the game. Tulsa would score once in the third and again in the fourth quarter, missing the last extra point which would have tied the game. 

2010 Sugar Bowl

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    Matchup: Florida vs. Cincinnati

    Significance: Urban Meyer's First "Last Game" and Tim Tebow's Actual Last Game as a Gator


    The 2009-2010 season was somewhat of a failure for the Florida Gators. Well, as much of a failure as going 13-1 and winning a BCS bowl can be. 

    The Gators returned 20 of 22 starters from a national championship team, including quarterback Tim Tebow. The stakes were high, and the attitude toward the season was national championship or bust. 

    Alabama would knock the Gators off track in the SEC championship game, sending the Gators to the Sugar Bowl instead.

    Tim Tebow would have the best passing day of his career at Florida, throwing for a BCS-record 482 yards and setting another BCS record with 533 total yards of offense. It was a fitting end for Tebow and the Gators as they would dominate the Bearcats 51-24 and win their third BCS game in four years. 

2006 BCS National Championship

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    Matchup: Florida vs. Ohio State 

    Significance: Florida's Second National Championship and First BCS Championship


    Similar to this season, the 2007 BCS National Championship game came with a lot of controversy. During the 2006 season, No. 1 Ohio State beat then-No. 2 Michigan, 42-39, in the last game of the Big 10 season. 

    Florida would go on to win the SEC after suffering a disappointing loss to Auburn early in the year. 

    Like this year, there was a debate if the national championship should feature a re-match of a game that had been previously played. Unlike this year, and to the disdain of Michigan fans, the re-match between Ohio State and Michigan would never happen. Florida finished No. 2 in the final BCS poll, earning a birth into the national championship. 

    Florida would go on to prove the voters right as they would win 41-14. 

    Ted Ginn Jr. ran the opening kickoff back for a touchdown, but he was injured while celebrating and would not return to the game. It was all Gators from that point on. The Gators defense was too much for Heisman-winner Troy Smith to handle, as the Buckeyes managed only 82 yards of offense the entire game. 

    This game also holds significance because it marked the first and only time that a school held both football and basketball national championships in the same calendar year. 

2009 BCS National Championship

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    Matchup: Florida vs. Oklahoma 

    Significance: Urban Meyer Becomes the First Coach To Win Two BCS National Championships; The Gators Win Their Second BCS National Championship in Three Years

    The Florida Gators suffered a heartbreaking loss to Ole Miss early in the year that prompted the greatest impromptu speech in Florida football history.

    Known as only "The Promise," Tim Tebow's words now reside on a plaque outside of the football stadium. 

    The Gators would rally from the loss to win the SEC and face Oklahoma in the BCS national championship. 

    Oklahoma came into the game with an offense thought to be one of the best of all time. 

    The Gators would hold Sam Bradford and that prolific offense to just 14 points. In fact, the Gators were the only team to hold the Sooners scoreless in the first quarter.

    Major Wright set the tone with a huge hit on only the second play of the game, and safety Ahmad Black would intercept Sam Bradford as the Sooners were driving down the field with a chance to either tie or go ahead.

    Tebow would lead one last scoring drive that ended with a jump pass to David Nelson to ice the game.  

1996 Sugar Bowl

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    Matchup: Florida vs. Florida State 

    Significance: Florida's First National Championship


    The road to the 1997 national championship was an improbable one. The Gators started the year ranked fourth in the nation, but they would climb up to first in Week 4. They remained first until their annual matchup against Florida State. 

    The Gators would lose to the No. 2 Seminoles 24-21, seemingly ending their hopes of winning a national championship. 

    The Gators then won the SEC championship, beating Alabama 45-30, before receiving a little help from Texas, who beat Nebraska in the Big 12 championship. The Gators moved up to No. 3 in the polls and would face Florida State in the Sugar Bowl.

    It would take a come back win from Ohio State over Arizona State to turn the Sugar Bowl into the de facto national championship. With No. 2 Arizona State losing, the No. 1 Seminoles and No. 3 Gators would decide who college football's best team was. 

    The Gators played an inspired game and would never trail, scoring 10 points in the first quarter and 14 every quarter after that, winning the game 52-20. 

    The national championship was the first in school history, and Steve Spurrier would become the first head coach to win a Heisman, coach a Heisman winner and win a national championship all at the same school.