By the numbers: Bowling Green

This Saturday, the Florida Gators will kick off the 106th season in the storied program’s history. Florida began playing in 1906 and have played every season since, only missing the 1943 campaign.

Playing so many games over that many years can make for some interesting numbers for the fans to look at.

In 2011, I created a spreadsheet that listed each of the games played along with the scores, locations and such. All the information is taken from the Florida Football Media guide. I went through the guide multiple times to ensure the accuracy of the data I had inputted onto the spreadsheet. After fastidiously recording a full season’s worth of games, I then added the record for the season, as well as the points scored by the two teams, and then proceeded to make sure it added to the same total as the media guide.

This season I will bring you a “By The Numbers” for each game the Gators play.

One of the numbers that jumps out from this week is the No. 3. In 105 seasons of Gators football, there have been a grand total of three games played on Sept. 1.  As I crunched the numbers I was surprised at how late the seasons began in the early days of Gators football.

The Gators’ inaugural season did not kick off until Oct. 26, 1906, practically Halloween for all those early 1900s trick-or-treaters. It was not until the 1970s that each season was slated to begin the first week in September on a regular basis. Even with the late starting dates, however, the Gators still played nine and 10 game seasons as far back as 1920. That year, the Gators’ started playing on Oct. 9 and did not have a bye week. Your Grandpa finally has number numbers to back up all those claims about how much tougher players were back in his day, but don’t tell him.

Opening day in 1906 was on Oct. 26 and the Gators still managed to squeeze eight games into the semester. Of course, playing the first four games on the following dates probably helped; Oct. 26, Nov. 2, 4 and 9. There were days, in fact, that teams would play two games in a doubleheader. Ice baths anyone?

I hope you enjoy this initial edition of By the Numbers.

The Numbers for Bowling Green

• This will be football game No. 1,095 for the Gators. With over a century of games played, the program’s overall record is 669-385-40.

• The Gators are 78-27 in their first game. There have been no ties. The Gators have won 22 consecutive opening games. The last loss in game one was in 1989 against Ole Miss.

• The Gators are 367-105-15 overall in Gainesville and 63-6 in opening games. In opening games in Florida, the Gators are 70-17 (Jax, Miami, Orlando and Tampa).

• Besides the Southeast, the Gators have opened their season in Texas (4 times), New York, and Illinois.

• The Gators have opened against Miami & Florida Southern six times each, more than any other team. Other notable repeat openers are Auburn (3), Houston (3), Mississippi State (4), Ole Miss (4), SMU (4), Stetson (4), The Citadel (5) and Rice (3).

• The Gators have begun every season since 1987 in Gainesville. The last season opener outside the state was in 1979 (Houston). In fact, Florida opened the season away from the friendly confines of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in each of the four years from 1976-1980.

• In 105 opening football games, the Gators carry a scoring average of 27.8 points per game. They allow 10.8 points per game. The Gators have 25 game one shutouts (last one, 1988 Montana State, 69-0) and have been shutout seven times, the last being in 1963 (Georgia Tech).

• The most points scored in an opening game by the Gators was in 1913 against Florida Southern, when the team racked up 144. Since 1950, the high for game one is 70 points against New Mexico State (1994).

• The Gators have played three games on Sept. 1 and are 2-1. In 1984, the Gators lost to Miami in Tampa 32-20. They would not lose again that season. The wins on Sept. 1 were against Marshal and Western Kentucky (2001 and 2007).

• The Gators have scored 24,340 points in 1094 games. They have given up 15,955.