Gators Football Bowl History Review

In the wild world of college football bowls, the Florida Gators arrived late.

UF did not go to its first bowl game until all of the World Wars (so far) had been fought and won and Queen Elizabeth II had just come to power.

The year was 1953. Alabama had already played in 10 bowl games including six Rose Bowls.

But while Florida can’t catch up with some of the college bluebloods, the Gators still have a rich history in the bowls. The overall record is a pedestrian 24-22, but that includes a 3-1 record in national title games.

Let’s put those aside for a minute and talk about the other excellent Florida bowl games. Oh, and we have to include the others that weren’t so glamorous:

 

THE TOP FIVE

(again, not including national title games because we know they would be 1, 2 and 3)

  1. 2002 Orange Bowl.

If we had known this was going to be Steve Spurrier’s last game as the Florida coach, it would have been some send-off Gator fans game their coach. Instead, Florida rolled to a 56-23 win over ACC champ Maryland despite Rex Grossman being suspended for the first quarter of the game.

  1. 1962 Gator Bowl.

The old-timers remember what a big deal this was when Florida beat No. 9 Penn State 17-7. Florida was the third choice for the game at 6-4. The Gators responded by wearing Confederate flags on their helmets. Yikes.

  1. 1994 Sugar Bowl.

Florida capped another SEC championship season by blasting No. 3 West Virginia 41-7. The game will always be remembered for Lawrence Wight’s weaving interception return for a touchdown.

  1. 1967 Orange Bowl.

Steve Spurrier’s Heisman season resulted in the first ever major bowl for the Gators and they delivered a 27-12 win. The highlight was Larry Smith’s 94-yard touchdown run.

  1. 2018 Chick-fil-A Bowl.

This was the first of three straight New Year’s Six bowl games and Gator fans had some history with Michigan, losing twice under Jim McElwain to the Wolverines. The Gators dominated 41-15 thanks in part to Chancery Gardner-Johnson’s clinching 30-yard interception return for a score.

 

THE BOTTOM FIVE

  1. 2020 Cotton Bowl.

Florida had many of its starters opt out and the coaches treated the game like a warm-up for next season, The result was an embarrassing 55-20 loss to Oklahoma and the beginning of the end for Mullen.

  1. 1989 Freedom Bowl.

The gators tied the game on a 67-yard TD run by Donald Douglas. After that, nothing went right in a 34-7 loss to Washington. Emmitt Smith kind of opted out after halftime, taking off his pads.

  1. 1973 Tangerine Bowl.

The game was moved from Orlando to Gainesville to accommodate a big crowd, but on a freezing night, Miami of Ohio and defensive back Ron Zook handled a Florida team that had closed with five straight wins 16-7.

  1. 1981 Peach Bowl.

Another miserable weather game, the Gators thought they were going somewhere else but Charley Pell intervened. Florida played like a team that didn’t want to be there in a 26-6 loss to West Virginia.

  1. 2015 Citrus Bowl.

McElwain’s first bowl game at UF was a disaster. Michigan rolled to a 41-7 win.

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