Struggling Florida Gators still hold championship opportunity
The Florida Gators looked like one of the best teams in the SEC for most of the year.
But over the last three weeks, Florida has struggled to beat mediocre teams. On Nov. 7, Florida needed a late field goal to skate past Vanderbilt 9-7. The next week, the Gators beat South Carolina 24-14 in unconvincing fashion.
The most alarming performance came on Saturday when the Gators needed overtime to beat 2-9 Florida Atlantic.
So is it time to panic about Florida?
Not quite yet.
The Gators are winning. Whether they beat Vanderbilt by two points or 20 points won’t matter if they beat Florida State and knock off the West champion to win the SEC title.
The Gators have a prime matchup with FSU on Saturday, and a big win could give them momentum heading into the SEC Championship Game.
While it doesn’t seem likely, a win next week paired with an SEC title would wipe away the struggles over the last three weeks.
All things considered, Florida is ahead of schedule on its rebuilding plan. Nobody picked the Gators to win 10 games and the East title.
We are talking about a team that lost its quarterback at midseason and is operating under a first-year head coach. We’re talking about a team that finished 7-6 last season.
There’s no question that Jim McElwain has changed the culture in Gainesville, but Florida needs a strong finish to keep spirits high.
A trip to the College Football Playoff seems improbable at this point, but the Gators could still do some damage to close out he 2015 season.