For about three hours all I could think about how the Gator Football Team managed to once again turn a certain comfortable victory into a nail-biter. But then JaMarcus Russell found Early Doucet in the end zone and nothing else seemed to matter. The Florida Gators are SEC Eastern Division Champs. The 8-and-1 Gators have won the toughest division in the toughest conference in America.
That is something that should NEVER be taken for granted. It’s one terrific accomplishment and deserves to be celebrated.
When Florida was dominating the SEC in the ‘90’s winning the east was a ho-hum affair, often seemingly accomplished with a September win over Tennessee. But top-to-bottom the SEC East is more competitive than ever before. Don’t believe me? Ask Georgia which lost to both Vanderbilt and Tennessee this year. Ask Alabama that lucked out in beating Vandy and just lost to Mississippi State.
Florida advances to Atlanta on December 2nd where the Gators will likely face either Arkansas or Auburn for the conference title. Either way it will be a second go-‘round in the SEC Championship game. Florida beat the Razorbacks in ’95 and the Tigers in ’00 to claim the conference crown. We’ll have plenty of time to look at the possibilities in the weeks to come, but for much of Saturday you had to wonder if it was going to happen.
Just Call ‘em the Tithing Gators
Urban Meyer spent two years in Mormon Country, Salt Lake City, Utah. The members of that faith probably have the most serious commitment to the biblical concept of tithing, giving ten percent of all earning to the church. Well it seems like Meyer may have brought that concept to Gainesville with him because between penalties and turnovers, the Gators are “donating” at least ten percent of their offensive opportunities to the less fortunate — namely their opponents.
Florida once again lost the second half, and most notable lost the fourth quarter 130-zip. Chris Leak threw three interceptions for just the third time in his career. Two of the picks cost the Gators chances to extend their lead and, if not put the game out of reach, certainly make it much more difficult.
By the time it was over, Florida had allowed a clearly inferior opponent gain 61 more yards; suffer 20 fewer penalty yards and finish + two in turnover differential. They allowed a team with one decent receiver to get the ball to that guy (Earl Bennett) an incredible 13 times!
But they won. And they are the SEC East Champs.
Gators Survived a Strange Saturday
Georgia lost to Kentucky and is in danger of a six-loss season. Alabama lost to Mississippi State and might need to get out those maps of Shreveport they haven’t used in five years. Clemson got the most inane replay overrule in history and still lost at home to Maryland.
Ohio State survived the Fightin’ Zookers by seven while Michigan beat perennial powerhouse Ball State by eight. All things considered, Florida’s six-point win on the road doesn’t seem so bad, does it?
Between the Gators surviving and the Vols falling to LSU, there’s another big plus for the Florida football team. This takes the pressure off the upcoming visit from South Carolina and the Head Ball Coach. Sure, there will be some pressure as the Gators try to stay in the national title hunt and get revenge for last year’s loss in Columbia. But the biggest pressure issue of all, the possibility that the Gamecocks could deny the Gators a trip to Atlanta is gone. And THAT should help the Gators next Saturday.