The 10 Best All-Time Florida College Football Teams

 

Heisman Trophy Winner Charlie Ward
Heisman Trophy Winner Charlie Ward

For nearly 30 years, some of the nation’s best college football teams have come from the Sunshine State. But who is the best of the best from Florida? Is it Charlie Ward and the 1993 Seminoles? Is it one of the five Miami championship teams? Or one of the Gator teams put together by the ole ball coach, Steve Spurrier?

 

Here’s how Sports Addict ranks them, knowing full well that some of you might strongly disagree:

10. 1978 FAMU Rattlers: The Rattlers have had a tremendous history, featuring teams with some of football’s greatest athletes such as Olympian “Bullet Bob” Hayes. But this team was a high point for FAMU and Coach Rudy Hubbard. Following a perfect season in 1977, Hubbard’s Rattlers won the first-ever Division 1-AA national championship en route to a 11-1 season. 

9. 1989 Miami Hurricanes: Built around a smothering defense, first-year coach Dennis Erickson helped guide the Canes to an 11-1 record and their third title in the ’80s. The defense was the key, limiting teams to less than 10 points a game. The one downside is that the Canes were solidly beaten that year by FSU.

8. 1983 Miami Hurricanes: The start of a college football dynasty. After getting routed by the Gators in the opening game of the season, the Canes and QB Bernie Kosar reeled off 10 straight wins and got a spot in the Orange Bowl against then #1 Nebraska. No one except the Canes faithful expected them to win. But the team pulled off a monumental upset after Nebraska failed to convert a two-point conversion in the waning moments.

7. 1993 FSU Seminoles: The team that ended years of frustration for Noles fans and head coach Bobby Bowden. Led by Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward, this explosive team also featured sensational tailback Warrick Dunn. Despite a loss to Notre Dame that initially knocked them out of title contention, FSU came back with a win over the Gators that was capped by a dramatic 79-yard touchdown pass from Ward to Dunn. This was followed by a narrow victory over Nebraska in the Orange Bowl that gave FSU its first ever national title.

6. 2006 UF Gators: The Gators earned a second national championship in 10 years with this team led by QB Chris Leak which also featured hard-charging backup QB Tim Tebow.But the key to the Gators success was a punishing defense that shut down offenses. During the regular season, the team only surrendered 17 touchdowns and held Tennessee to -11 yards rushing. The team’s crowning achievement was a 41-14 rout of then No. 1 Ohio State in the BCS National Championship Game.

5. 1991 Miami Hurricanes: Want proof that defense win championships? Look no further than this 12-0 team, which shut out Nebraksa in the Orange Bowl and gave the Canes a fourth national championship. Of course this team is also remembered for “Wide Right” when the Canes beat FSU 17-16 after FSU kicker Gerry Thomas missed a game-winning field goal at the end of the game. The one letdown: the Canes were forced to share the national title with the Washington Huskies, who also had an undefeated season.

4. 1996 UF Gators: Led by Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel, this Gator team rolled up the points (an average of 46.6 per game) and the wins as it marched victoriously through a killer schedule, including beating a Tennessee team led by Peyton Manning. But the Gators fell short In their regular season finale against FSU as the Seminoles defense managed to harass Wuerffel all day. But six weeks later the Gators would get their revenge – and a national championship – when they routed FSU 52-20 in the Sugar Bowl. 

3. 1999 FSU Seminoles: This team gave FSU its first perfect season and second national title. The Seminoles were led by Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke and featured standout wide receiver Peter Warrick. In the Sugar Bowl, the Noles managed to pound the Virginia Tech Hokies 46-29 despite QB Michael Vick rushing for nearly 100 yards and throwing for another 225 yards.

2. 1987 Miami Hurricanes: Featuring future NFL Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin and College Football Hall of Fame Safety Bennie Blades, this Canes team always found a way to win, most notably in an amazing come-from-behind win at Florida State (See below). The Canes were down 19-3 late in the third quarter, only to storm back with the help of two touchdowns from QB Steve Walsh to Irvin. The Canes shut down top-ranked Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl to win their second championship of the ’80s.

1. 2001 Miami Hurricanes: Don’t believe me? ESPN has already crowned this team one of the best of all time and the best in the BCS era. And the reasons are plenty. A 12-0 perfect season. A star-studded roster that featured future pros such as RB Clinton Portis, WR Andre Johnson and TE Jeremy Shockey. This team was so loaded that TE Kellen Winslow, RB Frank Gore, and RB Willis McGahee weren’t even starters.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

1987 FSU Seminoles: One of the most heart-breaking seasons in FSU history. This team – which included Deion “Prime Time” Sanders – had just one loss, a devastating 1 point defeat to the Canes at home. Instead of going for a tie in the closing seconds of the game, Coach Bobby Bowden opted to try for a two-point conversion. (There was no overtime back then.) The pass from Noles QB Danny McManus was broken up by a Canes defender, sealing FSU’s fate.

1986 Miami Hurricanes: Yes, they were an extremely talented team. Yes, they went perfect during the regular season. Yes, they had a Heisman Trophy winner in QB Vinny Testaverde. But in the end, they will be remembered for what happened at the Fiesta Bowl. They sauntered off their airplane dressed in combat fatigues but couldn’t back it up on the playing field against the Penn State Nittany Lions. Testeverde got picked off five times as the Nittany Lions held on to a 14-10 win.

2002 Miami Hurricanes: For so many years things always went the Canes way (Just ask FSU). But a phantom call in the title game against Ohio State kept this superbly talented Canes squad from winning back-to-back national championships.

1989 FSU Seminoles: If you want an argument for why playoffs are needed in college football, look no further than this team. The Seminoles dropped their first two games of the season, including a close loss to Southern Mississippi and some guy named Brett Favre. But somehow the team led by QB Peter Tom Willis rallied and won 10 straight games, including dominating wins against both of their arch rivals, UM and Florida. By the end of the year, FSU was the most dangerous team in the nation but the two early losses kept them out of the title hunt.

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10 Responses to The 10 Best All-Time Florida College Football Teams

  1. FlaRambo says:

    This is a great blog subject, as Florida is a modern powerhouse for college football the past 25 years…….and with the emergence of stronger, competitive programs at other schools such as USF, UCF, FAU and FIU, it is only getting more interesting. I found myself watching all sorts of games last year involving Florida college teams — UF, FSU and UMIami, for sure…but I mean the
    OTHER ones, too.

    If you love football, then love being a Floridian. I also find myself, late in the season, surely rooting for my favorite Florida teams — okay, it’s UF — but I also tend to be a ‘homer’ for all Florida schools, to a large degree, and I think it’s cool when several of our teams are ranked. It is all good for the sport.

    THanks for starting this site. It is unique….and well done. I like the idea of a statewide sports blog focused on our teams, players and issues.

    Go Gators….and Go Flsportsfan.com

  2. matt says:

    what about ken dorsey for the 2001 canes. he was the reason they won that game. he should have won the heisman because he was way better than carson palmer. also, he set most of the school records. for example, total, passing yards, passing touchdowns, pass completions, pass attempts, victories as a starter, winning percentage as a starter, 200 yard passing games, consecutive passes without a pick, consecutive games with a touchdown pass, and most touchdown passes in a game.

  3. Ry says:

    What about the 1984 Florida Gators? One of the best Gator teams in history. This is the team that, before the season began, lost its starting quarterback and lost its coach. Still, QB Kerwin Bell (a walk on) and Coach Galen Hall (hired after Charlie Pell took the fall for 106 NCAA violations) took this squad to places the Gators had never been — an (unofficial) SEC Championship. Yes, the season began with a devastating loss to Miami to start and a heartbreaking 21-21 tie with LSU at Florida Field. But, the Gators than rolled through 9 wins driven by a powerful offensive line dubbed “The Great Wall of Florida (Crawford Ker, Jeff Zimmerman, Phil Bromley, Billy Hinson, and Lomas Brown) that opened holes for John L. Williams, Neal Anderson and Lorenzo Hampton. Ricky Nattiel caught Bell’s passes. The Gators ended the season with a 27-17 win at FSU and a 9-1-1 record — laying the groundwork for Gator greatness today.

  4. flsports says:

    C’mon man. They were still 9-1-1. At best they maybe, and I stress maybe, could have gotten an honorable mention. But still, if you are not even state champs, it’s hard to put you in the top 10.

  5. Art Carlson says:

    Can’t argue with any of these rankings. What an awesome array of talent came rolling out of this state during the past 25 years!

  6. Hal says:

    Matt,

    Not to disrespect Dorsey, but with that offensive line, he just sat back there, checked down his reads, had some tea, smoked a cig and checked back on his receivers to see if they were open yet. My grandmother could have thrown for 20 TDs on that team. Your post is based on the same rationale that somehow made Gino Torretta a Heisman winner. All he did was take a three-step drop and throw the ball as far as he could and wait for Horace Copeland or Lamar Thomas or Kevin Williams to run under it.

    It’s all those other guys that made that 2001 team the best ever. Dorsey was just along for the ride, Trent Dilfer-style.

  7. chinaman says:

    Hi
    Where did you get words for this paper? From your head???

  8. Tolbert5Gator says:

    I loved the 84 Gator Team – Kerwin Bell started the summer as the fourth string QB -Bell became the Gators QB when Dale Dorminey tore his ACL the week of the game – the Gators came close to winning that one when Bell threw the go ahead TD with 58 seconds to play – Alas, four plays later Kosar, Blades and Irvin would break our hearts – After the USC game Bell got it together, and he and Anderson, Williams, Hampton and the Great Wall of Florida punished teams on the ground, then play action Bell to Ricky the Rocket in the driving rain at FSU- I miss that kind of football

  9. Tolbert5Gator says:

    OOPS! Two 21-21 ties two years in a row – I get confused – LSU tied in 1984

  10. Nathan says:

    Which ESPN poll named the 2001 Miami team #1?

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