My promise to Florida fans if — that's a big "if" — the Gators win in Baton Rouge
I hear you, Florida fans.
I’ve been hearing from you all offseason and I can still hear you loud and clear. You feel that your team is still not getting enough love. At 6-0 coming off a double-digit win against a top 10 Auburn team, you believe that the college football world is still not giving credit where credit is due.
After all, it’s Florida that boasts the SEC’s longest active winning streak at 10 games (dating to last year). It’s the Gators who have a legitimate top 5 defense that seems to be getting better — and healthier — by the week. It’s Dan Mullen who was blasted all offseason and is now worthy of National Coach of the Year consideration.
You want respect. I get it.
So here’s what I’ll do for you.
If Florida wins Saturday night at LSU, I’ll bang the drum as loud as possible for Florida to be the No. 1 team in America.
Yes, I realize that’s a huge, huge, huge, huge, huge “if.” The Gators are nearly 2-touchdown underdogs for a reason. It’s because the LSU offense just ripped off the best 5-game start in SEC history.
That’s right. In SEC history.
So if Florida can waltz into Death Valley at night and put the clamps on a unit that’s been unstoppable? Hoooooo boy. It’s time to start talking about Florida’s national title chances. And in my case, it’s time to start talking about them like the Gators are the No. 1 team in the country.
Before you tell me that’s ridiculous and that Kyle Trask isn’t as good as Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Fields, Jalen Hurts or any other quarterback of an elite team, hear me out. That’s not what this is about.
This would be about Florida beating battle-tested top 10 teams in consecutive weeks. Any idea when the last time that happened was? Trick question! It’s never happened in program history.
(Those 2006 and 2008 national title teams obviously beat top 10 teams in consecutive games, but they had a month in between games.)
This would be Florida’s reality in a world in which it escaped Saturday night with a win:
- Consecutive wins vs. top 10 teams
- 11 consecutive wins dating to Nov. 2018
- 5-0 vs. Power 5 teams in 2019
- 3-0 vs. Power 5 teams away from home in 2019
And that’s with a team who’s coming off a New Year’s 6 Bowl victory who also started in the top 10. Why not vote that team No. 1?
It would feel like not putting a 7-0 Florida team at No. 1 coming off an LSU win would be based entirely on the Trask factor. He’s not on the same level as those aforementioned elite quarterbacks, and the fact that he went the better part of a decade between starts continues to fuel the belief that Florida isn’t an elite team with him at quarterback. At least nationally.
Never mind the fact that Florida is now 4-0 having outscored teams 115-16 in the 13 quarters since Trask took over.
Wait a minute. Let me repeat that.
Florida is now 4-0 having outscored teams 115-16 in the 13 quarters since Trask took over.
Now think about adding a win at LSU to that. Forget the fun underdog story. That would be ridiculously impressive.
Am I of the belief that Florida is the most complete team in the country? In my opinion, no. Establishing the run has still been a major issue and there are certainly more high-powered offenses than Florida, regardless of a potential win in Baton Rouge.
But in terms of most deserving No. 1? Yeah, I would buy that.
And for what it’s worth, no, I don’t have an AP vote. I’m not necessarily saying that I would’ve been one of the 4 voters who put Florida in the top 5 after Week 6, either. The was the Gators’ first game against a ranked opponent this year. LSU will be their second.
Let’s say that all of the top 10 teams (besides LSU obviously) wins their respective games Saturday. Here’s what that would look like (not including LSU because Florida would win that argument with a victory):
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That’s right. Besides being the only team with multiple wins vs. ranked teams, Florida would have more top 10 wins than the rest of those squads combined. And the Gators would also be the only team of that bunch — again excluding LSU — with a road win vs. a top 10 team.
Starting to see what I’m getting at here?
I’m getting out ahead of this because in the event that Florida does win, we’re going to need to pivot our preseason evaluation of Florida in a hurry. And by “we,” I’m referring to the college football world at large. The postgame takes if Florida beats LSU would be about getting too caught up in the hype surrounding the LSU offense. It would be denouncing Joe Burrow’s Heisman candidacy and declaring that the Tigers aren’t ready to compete with Alabama.
Meanwhile, there’d be a 7-0 team in the SEC coming off a pair of impressive victories with all sorts of confidence heading into the latter half of the season.
In this era of constant debate about résumés, Florida can get the ultimate boost on Saturday night. Will that happen? My guess is no, but take that with a grain of salt. I predicted the Gators to lose to Auburn, and before the Terry Wilson injury, I had Florida losing at Kentucky. Call me a hater, Florida fans.
But if your team wins at LSU, I’ll be a different kind of hater — a hater of people not willing to seriously consider Florida as the No. 1 team in America.