If you were to poll ten Florida fans and ask them “who is the Gators’ biggest rival”, I’m not sure you would get a unified answer from the group.
Most programs have a unified answer. Ohio State and Michigan fans will give you the same answer. Alabama and Auburn fans will give you the same answer. South Carolina and Clemson fans will give you the same answer. Florida is in a unique position where they have multiple rivals, without the entire fanbase rallying behind one considered to be their “biggest” rival.
I’ve split up Florida’s rivals into three categories.
“I hate this team. If we lose, it will alter my mood significantly.”
“Can you imagine their fanbase if they beat us?”
“I’ll be disappointed if we lose this game, but ultimately the loss won’t affect our season goals.”
For a team to have five rivals seems pretty excessive, but Florida fans know that there has been bad blood with each of those teams at some point in the program’s history.
Let’s get Miami out of the way now. The rivalry with the Hurricanes has been mostly a geographical one in recent years rooted in recruiting. However, these two schools were once fierce rivals, with moments like the Gator flop that fueled the ire of the fans. However, after Florida bowed out of the annual series following the 1987 season, the boiling hatred was reduced to a simmer.
While they haven’t played consistently since then, the 2019 neutral site game showed the tension. This game might, and I’m putting a heavy emphasis on the word *might*, be replaced with UCF in the coming years.
I was at the Gasparilla Bowl last year. And as much as Florida fans want to say the game doesn’t matter, UCF’s victory laid the foundation for a future rivalry, especially with the Knights in the Big 12 and becoming a…