Following the 42-13 beatdown at the hands of Missouri, this program was left for dead.
Chants of “Fire Muschamp” rang out throughout the Swamp. The quarterback situation was a mess. The team was 3-3, and 2-3 in the SEC. It looked like the Gators were on their way to their second bowl-less season.
Don’t get me wrong. Two straight wins have hardly changed my opinion about Will Muschamp, and I’ll get to that at a more appropriate time. But those two straight wins have seemed to give this program a new life. And a third would accomplish several different things.
First, the Gators will be back in a bowl game. That’s nothing to celebrate, as the 2008 Kentucky team that Florida manhandled 63-5 went to a bowl game on the back of four weak non conference wins. But it’s a piece of tangible evidence that this team is better than it was a year ago, despite several signs on the field.
Second, a win over the Gamecocks would give the Gators just their second winning record in the SEC since Tim Tebow’s playing days. Can you believe that? The Gators have been just 17-15 in SEC play since Tebow left after the 2009 season. (The lone winning SEC season came in 2012, when the Gators slogged their way through the year at 7-1, with one very ugly loss to Georgia.)
Third, Muschamp would have a legitimate argument to stay on as head coach if Treon Harris guides the Gators to a win over South Carolina. They say the third time’s a charm, and three’s a trend. Well, Harris is 2-0 as a starting QB for Florida, and if he gets this third win in a row, Muschamp can go up to Jeremy Foley and say, “I know we’ve had problems in the past, but we have the future of the program here. Let me stay and develop him”. Of course, I would not be thrilled if Muschamp came back if the Gators don’t win out (meaning, beat FSU and win a bowl game), but objectively speaking, that’s a very compelling argument.
Finally, a win could potentially get the Gators into the SEC Championship Game. They need Auburn to beat Georgia (fairly likely) and then they need Tennessee and either Texas A&M or Arkansas to beat Missouri. But it could happen.
The bottom line is that not all is lost for this team. There’s still a lot they can accomplish. OK, so maybe Gator fans will survive the long offseason simply by remembering the Georgia game and nothing else, but we’re not in the offseason yet. Forget wrecking FSU’s season for now; there’s still lots to play for against South Carolina alone, including securing a winning SEC record for just the second time since 2009.
Just four short weeks after getting hammered by Missouri, this same Florida team can see a light at the end of the tunnel.