E-mail Pete Fiutak
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Well, Florida, now what do you do?
If you take a really, really, really hard look at Florida over the last two years, yes, you have to excuse 2013 because of all the devastating injuries. A program like Florida’s should have a next-man-up good enough be ready to shine at an SEC level, but still, that was asking a lot considering what happened last season.
This year, Florida lost to Alabama – no shame there – and dropped a touchdown pass that would’ve beaten LSU. Yes, the Missouri loss was extremely weird, but the defense did hold the Tigers to 119 yards in total offense.
So now, Florida is 4-3, and it would’ve been 5-3 had it actually been able to play Idaho, and now the program really does have to look hard at exactly what it wants to do with its head coach. If Will Muschamp and his Gators can beat Vanderbilt next week, and if they can get by South Carolina and Eastern Kentucky to get to 7-3, then what? To make an even crazier scenario, what if the Gators beat Florida State?
But first, Florida has to actually beat Vanderbilt, and this team is just flaky enough to blow it after coming off this dominant performance against Georgia.
This was the narrative-changing win Brady Hoke needed against Michigan State, and didn’t come close to getting. And now Muschamp is still alive and kicking, potentially forcing Florida AD Jeremy Foley to either pull a Rick Renteria on Muschamp – if he thinks he can get a Joe Maddon-like head coach – or he needs to stick with his head man and see what comes next.
Does one really good, really impressive win over Georgia really change things that much? Can a coach go from zombified man walking to entrenched?
No, this win doesn’t solidify Muschamp’s status, but it gives him another chance. It buys him November.
E-mail Rich Cirminiello
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Even Todd Gurley wasn’t going to bail out Georgia on this day.
Georgia may still go on to win the SEC East, but that’s the furthest thing from the minds of Mark Richt and his players. The Dawgs embarrassed themselves today in Jacksonville with an utterly dreadful all-around effort on both sides of the ball. Spare me the rivalry talk. Florida is not a very good football team right now.
Just ask Mizzou. But the Gators were permitted to look like title contenders this afternoon, repeatedly jamming the ball down Georgia’s throat, despite starting an inexperienced rookie quarterback, who attempted just six passes all day. Treon Harris presented absolutely no threat to the Dawg D, yet the Gators still produced not one, but two 190-yard rushers. In fact, on this day, Matt Jones ran as if channeling his inner-Gurley, while Matt Jones did his finest Nick Chubb impersonation.
You have to feel good for maligned Gator coach Will Muschamp, who finally nabbed his first win, either as a player or as a coach, in this storied rivalry. Florida fans, though, might have mixed feelings at this very moment. On the one hand, it’s a relief to finally knock off the hated Dawgs for the first time since 2010. On the other, though, there has to be the faintest hint of uneasiness around the Swamp that AD Jeremy Foley will have second thoughts about making a change at the helm of the program once the regular season is over.
By Phil Harrison
Follow me @PhilHarrisonCFN
Going into the world’s largest something or another, there was one team that was hiding in the weeds, secretly looking to elbow its way into the College Football Playoff discussion. For all the talk of the four teams in the SEC West in prime position to get into the mix for really big things, another SEC team from the East division was sitting ready to pounce.
Of all the SEC teams (including those in the West), Georgia looked to have the easiest schedule and path to Atlanta. If it could simply get past a struggling Florida team, beat Auburn in a home matchup and then run its way through Kentucky, Charleston Southern, and Georgia Tech, then it could match up with whichever SEC West team is left standing. Then, win that one and it would have been a pretty surefire bet to get invited to the College Football Playoff, as a one-loss SEC champion.
That was then, this is now.
Surprisingly, the Gators came into the game with a bite they’ve found it hard to find this year. the defense gave up yards but limited the Bulldogs ability to score, and the offense was dominant on the ground behind the combined 389 yards of Mat Jones and Kelvin Taylor. Florida imposed a public flogging to the defensive line of Georgia and beat them into submission all the way to a statement win.
The win will hold the bloodseekers from calling for Muschamp’s job for now, but there’s still work to do. Despite the loss, Georgia is still in the driver’s seat for the East, but it’s a passenger in the car heading towards the College Football Playoff.
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