After three months of responding to hundreds of complaints involving chest pains and shortness of breath throughout Gator Nation, a full emergency analysis has been completed and the results are undeniable. All that’s left is for warning labels to be attached to alligator football tickets and telecasts. Some fans may need medical clearance before seeing another Florida football game.
Others might have to have medical personnel standing by throughout the day. Rooting for this Gator football team is may well be hazardous to your health. Saturday this group of Gators once again showed why they are the most maddening, exhilarating, frustrating and yet fascinating team in school history.
It’s a team that is clearly greater than the sum of its parts, which is a credit to Urban Meyer and his staff more than anything else. It’s a team that runs an offense that doesn’t suit its quarterback, yet moves the ball with great consistency. It’s a team that lost its best defensive tackle, yet holds opponents to 70 yards a game on the ground. It’s a team that cannot find a consistent tailback, yet has a backup quarterback leads the way with seven rushing touchdowns. It’s a team that has a banged up offensive line, yet a true freshman receiver is averaging ten yards per carry.
It’s a team with a deep, dangerous receiving corps with a ton of experience, yet can’t score 30 points in any of nine games against top opposition. It’s a team that stresses discipline on and off the field year ‘round, yet is among the most penalized teams in America. It’s a team that won a game by blocking a kick, yet keeps opponents in games because it can’t make a field goal.
It’s a team that raises your blood pressure throughout a three-hour contest, yet gets you that victory cigar when all is said and done.
It’s also the first Gator team to go 11-and-1 in a decade and only the third in school history to do that well (or better) through a dozen games.
Off To Atlanta
The Gators will let the BCS arguments swirl around them this week while preparing for the SEC Championship game against Arkansas. The Gators, Michigan Wolverines and Southern Cal Trojans are the three candidates to play Ohio State for the National Championship. Each has plenty of evidence to support its claim of having “earned” that opportunity. But while Michigan has finished its season, Florida and USC still have a chance to impress.
The SEC Title game is much more than a chance to impress voters and computer geeks, of course. The Gators want that ring as much as any group of kids I have ever seen at UF. They won’t get it easily, but that probably would be true no matter who they would face in Atlanta. And that’s as it should be. Eleven years ago when the Gators faced Arkansas with the SEC Title on the line, Florida was the overwhelmingly superior team and the game played out precisely that way (35-3). You’ll hear a great deal about how these teams match up in the week ahead, but I’ll make it really simple. Florida can’t stop Arkansas on the ground. Arkansas can’t stop Florida through the air. Whichever team can minimize the damage done in those areas will win.