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July 10, 2010
UF's 10 worst losses last decade
You were devastated. Bummed out. Grief stricken.
You kicked the television, yelled at your spouse, maybe even punched a wall.
How could Florida have lost?
To a true Gator, every football defeat hurts. But some sting more than others.
Many have kept Florida from winning the Southeastern Conference title. A few ended the Gators' hopes of playing for the national championship.
At many schools, the world doesn't stop with a loss.
At Florida, where winning big every fall is demanded, each defeat is a crushing blow to the psyche of the orange and blue.
From Jan. 1, 2000 to Dec. 31, 2009, the Gators dropped 31 games.
Here's a list of the 10 most painful:
1. 2001: Tennessee 34, Florida 32
Recap: Originally scheduled for September, the game was moved to Dec. 1 because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. This Gator team, ranked No. 2, was a machine, having lost only on a rainy, windy night by three at Auburn. Two weeks before this game, Florida crushed Florida State, but in that game star tailback Earnest Graham was injured (Florida claimed on purpose). Without him, Florida rushed for just 36 yards against the Vols. The real problem, however, was that Florida couldn't stop Tennessee's Travis Stephens (226 rushing yards). The Gators also failed on a 2-point conversion with 70 seconds left that would have tied it. Had Florida won, and won again the following week in the SEC Championship Game, it likely would have played for the national championship against Miami.
2. 2009: Alabama 32, Florida 13
Recap: Riding a 22-game winning streak, defending national champion Florida was stomped in Atlanta by the Tide, which was determined to avenge the previous year's loss. The No. 1-ranked Gators simply couldn't stop Alabama's offense for the first three quarters, and squandered far too many scoring chances to have a shot. Not helping matters was the fact standout Gator defensive end Carlos Dunlap was suspended after being arrested the previous week for a DUI. Alabama would beat Texas in the BCS title game to win the national championship.
3. 2003: FSU 38, Florida 34
Recap: Known to Gator fans as "The Swindle in the Swamp," this defeat was difficult to stomach. It wasn't a great Florida team. Far from it. But the truth is, Florida played a terrific game that cold afternoon in Gainesville and probably should have beaten the No. 9 Seminoles. FSU benefited from several questionable calls, as refs missed a handful of fumbles that frustrated the Gators and their crowd throughout the day. The lead changed hands four times in the fourth quarter, but with 2:55 left Florida went ahead 34-31 on Ben Troupe's 26-yard touchdown catch from Chris Leak. A fourth-down play kept FSU alive, then the Seminoles won it with a 52-yard bomb with 55 seconds left.
4. 2003: Miami 38, Florida 33
Recap: After Ran Carthon's 4-yard touchdown run with 6:10 left in the third quarter, the 21st-ranked Gators led No. 3 Miami 33-10 in the Orange Bowl and coach Ron Zook appeared poised to earn his biggest victory. Then, everything fall apart. Miami quarterback Brock Berlin, who transferred in from Florida, led the Hurricanes on a stunning comeback by throwing for 340 yards and two touchdowns. Florida, behind by five, drove to the Miami 20 in the final seconds, but Al Marshall picked off freshman Chris Leak's desperation pass.
5. 2007: Georgia 42, Florida 30
Recap: Florida didn't just lose in Jacksonville; its pride took a serious blow thanks to Georgia coach Mark Richt. Following Knowshon Moreno's first-quarter TD run, almost the entire Bulldogs team rushed onto the field to celebrate, delaying the game and infuriating the Gator Nation. The Florida defense struggled all day, giving up large chunks of yardage and never really stopping Georgia's balanced attack. Moreno finished with 188 yards.
6. 2007: LSU 28, Florida 24
Recap: No. 9 Florida had No. 1 LSU on the ropes all evening in Baton Rouge. At one point, the Gators led 10-0. At halftime, it was 17-7. Late in the third quarter it was 24-14. The Tigers scored two touchdowns on fourth-down plays. Another came after pulling off a fake field goal. Jacob Hester scored on a 2-yard run with just over a minute left to give the Tigers their first lead. LSU would go on to win the national title.
7. 2002: Miami 41, Florida 16
Recap: This was the game that let Gator fans know that Zook was no Steve Spurrier. Playing Miami at Florida Field for the first time since 1986, the No. 6 Gators were flattened by No. 1 Miami. Ken Dorsey threw four touchdown passes and Willis McGahee ran for 204 yards in a game that ended up getting ugly. Miami actually entered as a 2-point underdog.
8. 2002: LSU 36, Florida 7
Recap: After having lost at Ole Miss the previous week, the Gators bottomed out at home. In fact, this was an embarrassment. The margin made it Florida's worst home loss since 1979. Florida was never competitive, and drew boos from an angry Florida Field crowd. Gator quarterback Rex Grossman was intercepted four times and LSU won in Gainesville for the first time in 16 seasons.
9. 2001: Auburn 23, Florida 20
Recap: So long ago, many forget this painful loss. But Florida was actually ranked No. 1 when it entered Jordan-Hare Stadium. And Auburn was unranked. Although it didn't play particularly well, Florida had a chance to win. But Grossman had a pass picked by Karlos Dansby with just under five minutes left, and Auburn drove in for the winning score. Damon Duval booted a 44-yard field goal with 10 seconds left
10. 2008: Ole Miss 31, Florida 30
Recap: No. 4 Florida seemed to be in control against the unranked Rebels at halftime, when it led 17-7. But Florida lost two fumbles early in the second half, and before long Ole Miss was ahead. Florida scored with 3:28 left but the PAT was blocked, keeping the Rebels ahead. The Gators got the ball back, but with 40 seconds to play and facing fourth down at the Ole Miss 32, quarterback Tim Tebow was stopped short and the game was over, leaving a sellout crowd at Florida Field in disbelief.