Photo: The Florida-LSU game in October drew big ratings on CBS and catapulted the Gators up the polls.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- For a lot of fans and media, the Gators’ win over LSU in early October signaled Florida’s return to national prominence.
The game not only impacted the perception of the Gators, it drew mammoth TV ratings.
Week 6 of the college football season featured some marquee matches, including Miami-Notre Dame, Nebraska-Ohio State and Georgia-South Carolina. However, none matched the 4.6 television rating (7.5 million households) of the Florida-LSU game (3:30 p.m., CBS).
The Nebraska-Ohio State matchup came closest, earning a 3.1 rating (5.2 million households).
In a week-by-week list of television ratings for most regular-season games on ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, ESPN and ESPN2 -- posted here on SportsMediaWatch.com -- the Gators scored big with TV audiences during their 11-1 season.
Florida’s season opener Sept. 1 against Bowling Green drew a 1.8 rating (2.8 million households). While that was Florida’s second lowest-rated game of the season on a national network, it still beat games such as Hawaii-USC, Kentucky-Louisville, Arkansas State-Oregon and the Tennessee-N.C. State Friday night game.
In Week 2 the Gators traveled to Texas A&M to face the Aggies in their first SEC game. Viewers tuned in – well before Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel was known outside College Station – and earned a 2.9 rating (4.5 million).
That was more than a prime-time game on FOX between Nebraska and UCLA or the Washington-LSU matchup on ESPN at 7 p.m.
The Florida-Tennessee game in Week 3 earned a 3.1 rating (5.1 million), second only to the 3.2 ratings earned by Alabama-Arkansas and Notre Dame-Michigan State that week.
In Week 8 the Gators hosted South Carolina in a key SEC East game. Viewers tuned in for the 3:30 p.m. game on CBS. The game earned a 3.1 rating (4.9 million) that tied the ABC 8 p.m. timeslot that featured FSU-Miami and Baylor-Texas.
In Week 9 only the Notre Dame-Oklahoma game topped the Florida-Georgia game in television interest. Notre Dame-Oklahoma drew a 5.2 rating while Florida-Georgia earned a 4.2.
The Gators earned their highest TV rating of the season in their final game, a 37-26 win over Florida State in Tallahassee. The game scored a 5.1 rating in the 3:30 slot on ABC. The only games to score higher was a 9.4 rating for the Notre Dame-USC game – 16.1 million households – and a 5.8 (9.5 million) for the Michigan-Ohio State that started at noon on ABC.
The highest-rated game of the season was the SEC Championship Game between Alabama and Georgia that scored a 9.8 rating, or 16.2 million households. The Nov. 24 Notre Dame-USC game was the second-highest rated game of the season.
Those two games rank as the fifth- and sixth-most viewed regular season games of the past 20 years according to SportsMediaWatch.com.
CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus told the Birmingham News this week that the Gators are one of four SEC teams that have “enormous” national appeal, joined by Alabama, Georgia and LSU.