The University of Florida fielded an official varsity football team for the first time in 1906, defeating the Gainesville Athletic Club 6–0 in its first game. Since then, the Gators have played in thirty-seven bowl games, won three National Championships (1996, 2006, 2008) and eight Southeastern Conference Championships, and produced 138 All-Americans, forty-two National Football League (NFL) first-round draft choices and three Heisman Trophy winners.
The Gators' most prominent current football rivals are SEC Eastern Division foes Georgia and Tennessee, annual SEC Western Division opponent LSU, and in-state rival Florida State from the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). Florida has historically shared rivalries with Auburn and Miami, too, but those games are no longer played annually and have lessened in intensity.
The Gator football team has been the winningest program in the NCAA's Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) since 1990, the year Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Steve Spurrier returned to his alma mater as head coach. The 1996 team, coached by Spurrier and led by another Gator Heisman-winner, Danny Wuerffel, finished with a 12–1 record and won the national championship in the Sugar Bowl.
Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, home field of the Gators.
Urban Meyer became Florida's head football coach in December 2004, and his six teams had great success from 2005 to 2010. The 2006 team won the school's second National Championship on January 8, 2007, defeating the number one-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes 41–14. Quarterback Tim Tebow won the Heisman Trophy in 2007, and Florida's Tebow-led 2008 team won the 2009 BCS National Championship Game on January 8, 2009, beating the top-ranked Oklahoma Sooners 24–14, for the Gators' third National Championship. Meyer resigned as the Gators head coach in December 2010, and was replaced by Will Muschamp following the Gators' January 1, 2011 victory over Penn State in the Outback Bowl.
The Gators have won the SEC Championship Game a record seven times in ten tries since the SEC instituted the championship game in 1992. The Gators won their first official conference title in 1991, the year before the first SEC conference championship game was played, for a total of eight SEC championships in the last twenty-one seasons.
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