Image Credit: ESPNI
Nearly every college football program in the country has its fair share of rivalry games, usually two or three that fans particularly look forward to each year. The Florida Gators happen to have an extreme case of rivalry fever with six teams – and one game – that could be considered legitimate rivals.
And here’s the funny thing about those rivalries: Florida will play six, maybe all seven, of them in 2019.
As pointed out by Reddit user surreptitioussloth (let’s give an additional hat tip for that handle), the Gators’ 2019 schedule is loaded with opponents that have long been considered program rivals, including two that UF has not played on annual basis for decades.
Looking at the regular-season slate alone, Florida will be playing all six of its traditional rivals in the same year for the first time since 1985.
Miami – Saturday, Aug. 31 (Orlando, FL): The Gators are 26-29 all-time against the Canes with UM owning victories in seven of its last eight meetings against UF, the most recent coming in 2013. The Gators’ sole win in the series since 1985 came during their national championship season of 2008. Though the teams’ annual series stopped in 1987, Florida and Miami squared off 49 times in 50 years from 1938-87 (exception: 1943, World War II).
Tennessee – Date TBA (Gainesville, FL): The Gators and Vols first met in 1916 and have played annually for the last 26 years since 1990 with UF holding a 26-19 all-time edge. They’ve been SEC East division rivals since 1992. Florida has won 11 straight games against Tennessee; will that number be 14 entering 2019?
LSU – Date TBA (Baton Rouge, LA): Both founding members of the SEC, UF and LSU did not begin playing annually until 1971 and more recently became permanent cross-division opponents. The Gators hold a 31-28-3 edge over the Tigers with LSU having won the last three meetings.
Georgia – Saturday, Nov. 2 (Jacksonville, FL): Perhaps Florida’s strongest all-time rivalry, it will face Georgia for the 97th time in 2019 with the Bulldogs currently holding a 49-42-2 series lead over the Gators. UF and UGA have played every year since 1926 (exception: 1943, World War II) and have a contract to play the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party in Jacksonville through 2021.
Auburn – Date TBA (Gainesville, FL): Founding members of the SEC that played each other often in the Southern Conference prior to the new league’s creation, the Gators and Tigers have met 83 times with Auburn holding a 43-38-2 advantage in the all-time series. By the time the 2019 games kicks off, UF and AU will have gone eight years between meetings after playing three times in six years from 2006-11. How strong was this rivalry? Florida and Auburn met for 58 straight years from 1945-2002 with consecutive meetings from 1912-17 and 1927-40 as well.
Florida State – Saturday, Nov. 30 (Gainesville, FL): UF’s biggest in-state rival has participated in 60 meetings with the Gators owning a 34-24-2 all-time margin in the series against the Seminoles. For a full decade (1990-2000), every time Florida and Florida State met the teams were both in the top 10 of the AP Top 25 with the winner playing for the national title six times. UF and FSU first squared off in 1958 and have not missed a meeting.
Alabama (possibly) – Saturday, Dec. 7 (Atlanta, GA): For the Gators to reach seven rivalries, they would have to advance to the SEC Championship Game to face the Crimson Tide. While Florida and Alabama are not traditional rivals in the regular season, they are most certainly rivals in this game. Florida (11) and Alabama (10) have played in more SEC title games than any schools from their respective divisions. The Gators (7) and Tide (6) have also won more SEC titles than any other teams in the league. It should also be obvious that these programs have met in this game more often than any other matchup with Florida and Alabama going head-to-head seven times, including the first three games ever held from 1992-94.
All of this, of course, is subject to change, though it is unlikely that the SEC expands or changes its scheduling format in any significant manner over the next four seasons.