Florida football’s 2009 among best teams without a national championship

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Winning a national championship in college football is no easy feat, and since the institution of the College Football Playoff in 2014, it’s only become more difficult. Because of this, there are some truly phenomenal teams that fall through the cracks and miss out on a championship.

Florida has had a couple of those teams. In 1995, it went undefeated with quarterback Danny Wuerffel before a blowout loss to eventual national champion Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl. That was a great team, but likely not as great as the Gators’ 2009 team.

Coming off a national title in 2008, the Gators returned a lot of key starters on both sides of the ball, including quarterback Tim Tebow, who made the surprising decision to forego the 2009 NFL draft and return to Florida for his final season.

Florida wasn’t quite as dominant throughout the regular season, but it did manage to cap off its first 12-0 season in program history. Heading into an SEC Championship game against Alabama — who it defeated in Atlanta the prior year — another national championship appearance was on the horizon.

But the Crimson Tide beat down UF and took the BCS Championship bid themselves, later defeating Texas as Nick Saban won his first title at ‘Bama. Florida, meanwhile, had to settle for a blowout Sugar Bowl win over Cincinnati.

According to a list of the greatest teams to not win a national championship from ESPN, the 2009 UF squad comes in at No. 46.

After a national title run in 2008, Florida’s 2009 campaign felt a bit like a hangover and included some closer-than-expected results — 23-20 against Arkansas, 24-14 against South Carolina, etc. When the Gators lost to Nick Saban and Alabama in the SEC championship, it felt like a changing of the guard. But that takes away from the fact that this team was still tremendous. The Gators beat two top-five-at-the-time teams by a combined 64-27, destroyed rivals Florida State and Georgia and finished 13-1.

That season signaled the post-Urban Meyer decline at Florida. The program hasn’t won 12 games since, and it has suffered two losing seasons after not having any since 1979. But coach Dan Mullen seems to be turning things around, and 2009 may not be the last great Florida team for long.

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List

Pat Dooley’s Book of Lists – Volume 13: The greatest Florida football victories in non-championship seasons

Pat Dooley Florida Gators
Pat Dooley Florida Gators