It is tough to admit, tough to swallow. We are an arrogant fan base. Many of us assume the SEC was founded in 1990 by Steve Spurrier. We mark the first Saturday in December down for a weekend getaway to Atlanta. We believe bowl games are only played on January 1 or later. So it comes with great difficulty that we must look in the mirror today and admit that the Florida Gators football program is merely a junior varsity compared with the big, bad beasts of the SEC West. Alabama pulled down our pants and molested us in front of 90,000 of our closest fans in our home.
There is some revisionist history being written that if John Brantley wasn’t knocked out of the game, we would have hung close. We were moving the ball on Alabama’s defense. Brantley was finding wide open receivers. It is true we hit some big pass plays. It is true Andre Debose was thawed out of carbonite (sorry flashback to last week’s Star Wars theme) and finally looked like the 5-star Percy Harvin clone he was supposed to be. But there is no chance the game ends any differently with Brantley. Remember two drives before Johnny’s ankle was twisted like a pretzel? He stuck one right into Courtney Upshaw’s midsection for a pick-six. Remember the drive Brantley went down? Fourth and 30. The Gators soft running attack was devoured like a Five Star Pizza at a frat party. The young and talented front seven was curbed by Trent Richardson.
Brantley going out had nothing to do with the outcome, just as it will have little to do with the rest of the month. Florida wasn’t beating LSU even with Brantley under center. If the Gators are to sneak out a win or two against Auburn and Georgia, it will be because the defense steps up and Charlie Weis figures out a way to get Rainey and Demps more space. As stated last week, the Gators weren’t running the table in October. Now there is a slim chance they’ll get out with just one loss. The question becomes can this JV squad grow enough in time to win on the Plains, a place notoriously tough for even the most seasoned Gators squads to win. Can they find the magic in Jacksonville? 6-2? 5-3? 4-4? Nothing is going to be surprising.
On the bright side, there is hope. We’ll grow into a varsity monster again. Muschamp is rebuilding. If Weis stays or is replaced by an equally intelligent offensive mind, we’ll have a strong attack on both sides of the ball and the balance of power will shift back to the SEC East. It isn’t going to be this year but within the next three years, we’ll be back in the top 5 and our on-field performance will once again match our insatiable expectations.
On to this week’s poll… Right now, I’d buy any of the top 10 winning the title this year with the exception of Texas. Clemson, my first choice for the 14th member of the SEC, is for real. [NAME REDACTED] is basking in the sunshine before the inevitable frat boy fracas brings his Illini back to Earth. Florida sneaks in the back door since we want to cling onto potentially the last time this year we can honestly rank them.
5. Boise State
7. Oklahoma State
14. Georgia Tech
15. West Virginia
16. Kansas State
17. Virginia Tech
20. South Carolina
23. Arizona State
24. Florida State