Gators back in poll, return home to play No. 5 LSU

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Florida coach Dan Mullen runs on to the field for the start of Saturday's game against Mississippi State in Starkville, Miss. Florida won 13-6. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

After back-to-back SEC football road wins, Florida returned Sunday to The Associated Press Top 25 poll at No. 22.

The Gators (4-1, 2-1 SEC) return home for a 3:30 p.m. game Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium against No. 5 LSU (5-0, 2-0). UF won 47-21 at Tennessee last week and 13-6 at then-No. 23 Mississippi State on Saturday night.

SEC Network’s traveling pregame show, SEC Nation, will be set up and ready for the Gainesville crowd Saturday. The show will air live from 10 a.m.–12 p.m. at the Plaza of the Americas on the UF campus.

UF students are encouraged to show up early, as Krispy Kreme will be handing out donuts, coffee and juice for the first 200 students who show their Gator-1 card.

That show, which features UF alum Laura Rutledge and Gator Great Tim Tebow, kicks off an exciting day in Gainesville that has the Gators 2008 Championship Reunion, Tim Tebow’s Ring of Honor Ceremony, Fan Fest, all kinds of activities on the North Lawn at Gator Walk Village and an exciting matchup on the field with LSU.

In addition to the live show Saturday, the Plaza of the Americas will play host Friday to The Paul Finebaum Show, which airs from 3-7 p.m. on SEC Network. Fans are invited to catch all four hours from the set on campus.

Florida fans attending Saturday’s game are encouraged to wear blue.

Alabama remains No. 1, with Georgia at No. 2, Ohio State at No. 3 and Clemson drops a spot to No. 4 in the poll. UF made the poll at No. 25 for the first time this season following the win over Charleston Southern and then dropped out with the loss to Kentucky.

Note: The Gators may have been too hot in their win at Starkville on Saturday night. On the way back to Gainesville, UF’s equipment truck got a flat tire, which sparked a small fire. “Everyone involved is ok.  We will be ready for our game this weekend against LSU,” UF tweeted out after a photo of the truck appeared on social media.

54 COMMENTS

    • Reality set in about the time Kentucky got on the bus to go home, Rocketman. Then we adjusted, reached down, then down again, and found ourselves. These Gators will do you proud come Saturday. We might just be 5-1 when all the dust settles, who knows?

      • here is some reality for everyone. from what I have read, the nfl is finally going “all-in” on spread offenses. the first was the patriots, who spent a lot of time with….cdm…to design it. now the eagles won a super bowl with it, and a lot of the league is finally moving in that direction. the raiders just spent $100 million on a coach, I’m sure the big numbers are going to be there for CDM and soon. maybe the cowboys, Jerry just paid in the billons for his stadium, .500 is not what he is looking for. CDM is considered, in every nfl article ive read on the topic, to be the jedi master of the spread. maybe its not going to be a problem, maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. if so, no harm done, I apologize in advance for being wrong again. either way, this is another way that UF is still the gold standard, we had some misfortune in choosing champ, but the sec turned on what the old ball coach did, and the entire football world turned on what cdm/urban did here. our brand is elite. that may not mean much against LSU, but i’d still rather be us than anyone else, including BAMA or Georgia Tech (a family favorite) or LSU, etc.

  1. I just can’t like Jaguars QB Blake Bortles because of his windup throwing motion. It’s awful on short passes. I fear Franks may have a similar motion that will limit him against some competition. Jury is obviously out and he has won three in a row – although the MS win credit may go to the defense.

    • I think their coach, who everyone likes to ridicule as though he’s some dumb clod who just got off the turnip truck, just might be getting the most out of his otherwise very ordinary players and the few genuine stars they have. Therefore, through no fault of his, that team will come into the Swamp very cock sure of themselves and very much under-estimating Florida, who is quite capable of pinning their ears back even in the current state.

  2. Here come the ”nay-sayers”, and in less than 24 HRS after a great Gator road win against a Top 25 team, like M.S.U.. Too bad some of you fans can’t ”enjoy the journey” and your making Pat Dooley look right we he says, ” Nobody SUFFERS WINNING like Gator fans.” Hoy vay!
    Well, U.F Football, please know that many of us are damn proud of you all for reaching your win total already from last year, improving weekly, and making the ”I’m not impressed fans” look like they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. They are expecting MIRACLES that only Christ Himself can perform.

  3. I agree gatorgi. We seem to take a wonderful thing like winning and spin it into a negative. I enjoyed our focus, intensity and passion showed last night.
    Drew Brees doesn’t play quarterback at UF. I like our guy. Trask is is where the coaches think he should be and that works for me. In Coach Mullen I trust.
    That environment was nuts last night and we won the game as an eight point dog. With a less than spectacular o line, eyeing down receivers is going to happen. False starts, impossible to communicate, come on Gator fans… time to believe!!

  4. Last year under Mac I never felt winning was assured. Never felt winning was a priority. Even his two good years never felt we could command the game. My gut told me we were going to win last week. On top of reading the stats. This weeks match up it’s a little tougher in the stats buy my gut still says these guys can win. We’ve got to have defense and special teams play lights out with three offense stepping up another notch.

    • Gator65 – You are right that we never got the warm and fuzzy with Mac’s offense. You can look at him as incompetent as most Gator fans do or as I look at it, be grateful that he left Mullen with a much better situation than at UCLA, Nebraska, and FSU. He just wasn’t given enough time to overcome the major problems and to sustain any momentum due to the shortage of OL players when he came aboard, the Grier suspension, frequent changes of QBs due to injuries, and the knucklehead nine fiasco. All that plus the alleged lack of support and disenfranchisement with the Administration and fan base didn’t help. He was able to win ugly while earning COY honors, division titles, and exceeding preseason expectations.

      About this week’s matchup with LSU, we will find out if this team is really good or really average. I hope your gut is right again.

      • Even if really average, Sly, the character and gumption they found in Starkville can do amazing things if applied. True tho, nothing replaces sheer talent, ability, and will to win……but we’ve both seen a bunch of average guys “punch above their weight” more than once. I keep thinking of the quote 65 posted a week or two ago — “They had no right to win, but win they did”.

        Sometimes even transition years coming off the worst of seasons can do pretty well, and I think this factor often has a lot to do with it. What say you?

        • Gators certainly looked like they more than held their own physically and mentally in StarkVegas and that is certainly very encouraging. However, playing MSST, although they were ranked at the time, I am not sure they are a good barometer for how good we really are. Neither were any of the previous games up to this point. I’ve felt from the beginning of the season that LSU, Oct. 6, will be a good barometer about this year’s team. I didn’t expect LSU to be #5 good at this point but I’ve felt they have been consistently good year in and year out that they will serve as a good gauge for comparison.

      • Sly Mac may have been better if things had happened differently. Just never seemed to have a grasp of the whole program. I think where he came from a small school he was capable. Yes he did get us to two SEC championships I was there supporting out team. But there was always something about it that said with this coach they will only go so far. Nothing personal just his limit. Maybe I’m wrong and well see him win natty someday. He did have a series of events that hurt progress. I feel great leaders can take those situations and make something of it.

        • Funny. I don’t remember any SEC championships. 😉 I know what you meant to write.

          The team on Saturday was unlike recent teams in two key ways: poise and toughness. The O took what the MSU D would give them, maintained control of the ball, and kept our D rested. The D smelled blood in second half and just went for it with abandon. That looked like a team that knew how to win and actually wanted to do so. And on the road, too. I’m hopeful for this weekend bringing a good result. But what I am now confident in is seeing the team playing the right way to win. That is literally all I had wanted to see this season.

          • NWIA you’re right I didn’t clarify that we didn’t win those games. I was there painfully to watch. I think this group would put up a fight if we got the chance. I think next year there should be some teams looking at us as a serious threat.

        • Gator65 – Mac may not be and may never be a top tier coach. He is not a bad coach either in my view. You don’t turn around a consistently bad Colorado State program, win 2 SEC Divisions in your first two seasons when no one else could do it, and win COY honors without being good. I believe having a successful program is more than just about coaching. Coaching is important but it isn’t the only factor as many Gator fans seem to suggest. Is Chip Kelly and Scott Frost bad coaches now that their teams aren’t winning? I believe that continuity in coaches is the single most important factor to a successful program. Kelly and Frost will make some noise in time if given the time to fix the problems. In this current age, we expect instant results and that is not the recipe for success. It takes time to see results. Today, I read that GE just fired their CEO who has been on the job a little over a year. I haven’t been following the company and there may be valid reasons but my initial thought was what an idiotic move.

          • Somebody said the other day — it might have been you, or it could have been Mveal or DeWayne or any number of thinkers on here, my brain is always a little fuzzy at about this time every year — but to the point of “continuity of coaches” the actual point they made was “program continuity” in terms of what kind of coaches they hired (ie, the style they favored). That way, the transition was by definition more integrated and shorter.

          • Agree with you on some of that. Sometimes people pull trigger to fast in making change. World of instant gratification. Yes there is a lot more than just coaching and that is where I (my opinion) feel Mac wasn’t the right person. Yes he had success in Colorado St but only for two years which could have been luck. Going from a small program to a large one is difficult if the plan is not scalable. Meyers plan obviously was. Lastly You hit on consistency which is very important yet very difficult to maintain in the day off coaches and assistants moving constantly. I like or current staff. I hope they are able to stay together. Though you can’t blame someone for wanting to be a hc. Lots of moving pieces to manage. Enjoy reading your posts.

  5. The Gators need a new bigger better Semi-Tractor, bacause it stands to reason after seeing that ugly faded out moving company one in Knoxville.
    Say a new extended one the other day that can sleep a crew of four.
    Go Gators.

  6. For the first time in years, this team is fun to watch, the intensity is up, and you can feel that they believe they can beat anyone. I watched much of the LSU game and that team can be beat. Olepiss isn’t very good so the score was lopsided. I like our chances this week. If they pull out the win, will it be too early to say the East is in play this season? In CDM we trust!

  7. Happy to be coming cross country to be at this game. Hoping for an insane Swamp and a big win. Defense needs to play strong and keep it close. Without Knucklewain and No Offense Nussmeier there, keeping it close gives us a chance for the win. The Gators will not let me down at my first time back to the Swamp in 15 years. Go Gators!

  8. I’ll be in Las Vegas for the game vs LSU watching from the sports book at the Linq. And will probably put down a wager on the Gators to win. I expect another great effort from the boys in orange and blue and for us to send the tigers back to Baton Rouge with their first loss

  9. Mullen is scary smart, he will find and “game plan” any weakness LSU has. The Gators are “bought in” and in superb condition. I think the Gators have a reasonable chance to win. Isn’t it more fun now being a Gator (’72) than during the Muschump/Mcpsycho era? Go Gators!

  10. Ok here’s my take on it. I told everyone all week that we would beat MSU because they were overanked from beating 3 nobodies; losing to UK showed me who they really were. I even guaranteed it and said to bet on it, I did and made over 2 grand. Now we are overanked because we beat an overanked team. What we had was a team that looked like a Muschamp team. Great defense and an offense who could barely score; not at all like our 1st 4 games, even against UK. We had an awesome defense who did not score or return a turnover for great field position as they had done in 4 previous games and a special teams that also did not score. All scoring was on the offense this time, which for the 1st time was able to sustain drives and eat clock but couldnt score. The offense was missing the big plays of Franks that he is so good at. Mullen only called 1 deep pass that came back for a hold. Yea i know, they had a great pass rush which Mullen negated with screens, but they werent blitzing all the time and he could have used more deep passes that Franks is so good at. This team isnt good enough to score in the red zone consistently so we must score from outside it with big plays as we did in the 1st 4 games, hope this doesnt continue.
    Looking at LSU, their average score is in the 30’s and their lowest was against a great defense, Auburn where they still scored 22. So we have to expect them to score in the 20’s against UF. Now their defense; They allowed 21 to a great offense of Auburn but against average offenses they have allowed in the teens and a poor offense they shut out. So therefore, we have an average offense at best that without defensive and special team scores, will barely get into the teens. We have a great defense so LSU should score around 20. Therefore I see no way short of scoring on defense and special teams for us to possibly win. I was shocked that against a poor passer like MSU we had no int’s and no strips of anybody like in the 1st 4 games. I was also surprised Special teams also had no scoring plays like they had in the 1st 4 games or returns for short yardage, so Im not counting on it against a very prepared team like LSU. The only way we would be able to hang with LSU is if Mullen opens that playbook and uses that big accurate arm of Felipe for some down the field passes. Based on this last game it appears that if Franks can move the offense(sustain drives), Mullen will not use , as he calls it, high risk plays. With Franks I think they are lower risk than his short passes because he is so accurate on the deep pass! It seems , Mullen was forced to use these deep passes before because Franks couldnt sustain drives. It appears that being able to sustain drives in this last game made Mullen get conservative and just ruined their chances of winning against LSU and Ga. You have to admit it sure looked like a Muschamp team out there. If I could speak to Mullen I would point this out and beg him to fight the coach tendency towards being conservative with a shaky QB, especially this one, and put at least 1 or 2 deep passes per drive back in! Now that Franks can sustain a drive, if he had 1 or 2 big plays each drive I actually think this offense could score big! Yes he still can hardly find another open receiver beyond the one the play is intended for but I dont think it matters because he did sustain drives anyway against MSU. I know MSU’s defense isnt LSU’s but still they were good. One example was an unsuccessful pass to Swain that was covered and I believe it was Jefferson just ahead of him that was open in front of his defender, that would have been a TD. Franks never saw him though in the same general line of sight. Had his intended target been Jefferson it would have been a TD and a big play that Franks is good at. Once again we beat Vandy, SC, Idaho, Fsu; next week I’ll be more sure about MO after they play SC and even surer after UK; we probably dont beat LSU or Ga.( very unlikely). How Ga plays LSU after us will be very telling, we will have a direct comparison. Cheers

    • While I agree with a number of your comments Wazzle, several are off base. None was more off base than “You have to admit it sure looked like a Muschamp team out there”. Nothing could be further from the truth. CDM adjusted at halftime to take what a descent defense was giving. The offense moved the ball consistently nearly every possession in a methodical, systematic fashion, nothing like in Muschamp’s days.
      This team is making clear progress each and every week and may not beat LSU, and probably won’t be GA, but definite progress weekly. To take our program back to 7 or 8 wins in one year after taking over the mess that McElwain left will be nothing short of amazing.

    • Daz you do realize MSU’s defense ranks higher in pretty much every statistical category than LSU’s right? So I’m kind’ve confused by your statement of I know MSU’s defense isn’t LSU’s. Special teams also accounted for 6 of the 13 points scored against MSU, so them not scoring in this game is another interesting take. I’m also wondering when the “we’ll know more” after the next game mantra I keep seeing a lot of people say, is going to end. Or will that be the motto for the rest of the season? I for one went into this game that everyone thought would tell us what kind’ve team we had, you know for the second week in a row since everyone also said we’d know after the Tennessee game. I thought if we could handle this defense that’s much higher ranked than LSU’s, on the road in a hostile environment, then we should have no problem handling LSU’s. I think at this point we all know exactly what type of team we have. A great defense that will keep us in every game, great special teams that will help with field position and an average offense that protects the ball and controls the clock. I don’t think where going to suddenly see a different team against LSU than we have pretty much every other game. It’s just going to be whether they can continue improving and doing what they’ve done all season and if that’ll be enough to beat LSU. Here’s to hoping we do and we can finally stop hearing fans say we’ll know more after the next game. Although I highly doubt that stops all year.

    • DW I agree with what you said except for one thing on Mullen. He has changed the calls in the last the games to exploit the team we were playing. He also said he wanted to grind a game out and did so there. I think he throttled them back a bit when he had three game in hand. Maybe not throwing it in the face of his former team. He’s been using each phase of the game to their advantage. I think he is going to open things up, has to, to beat LSU. This is the biggest dance to date and while we are the underdog I think we can win this with good play in all areas. Yes special teams it’s going to be the difference.

  11. It’s Monday. Just like the team, Florida fan needs to move past the euphoria of the MSU win and focus on the task at hand. LSU will be the best team the Gators will have played. It definitely has the most talent. The Gators do have enough talent on defense to limit the Tiggers to under 20 points. However, LSU’s defense is equally, if not more talented. The relative weakness for both teams is the offensive line. While I hardly doubt LSU will overlook the Gators, it doesn’t hurt that they play Georgia the following week. Regardless, it will be a slobbernocker of a game. Unfortunately, Florida will be softening up the Tiggers for the hated Bulldogs. Damn SEC schedule! Keys to Florida winning,

    1. No turnovers! Can’t give them a pick six or short field. Make them have long drives.
    2. Create scoring opportunity on special teams. One special team scoring play could be enough.
    3. Go against tendencies on offense. Bubble screens won’t work against their press coverage like
    MSU. Throw down field on 1st down every now and then to keep them from loading the box.
    Franks throws a very nice deep ball. It’s time for Jefferson to have his coming out party!

    It still will a very tight game if all of the above happens. However, the score is reversed from last year and the Gators win 17-16 over the Tiggers!

  12. Daz, that didn’t look like.a Muschamp team at all. They adjusted to what the defense was doing. Two of the best defenders in the country are on that line. There was nothing to gain up the middle. MsU was keeping help deep to stop the long play. It wasn’t smart to air it out very much.
    The encouraging thing of this game is that we played to the weak spot in the D and sustained drives. MSU was banking on our O to not be able to do that. Special Teams kept field position in our favor and our front 7 shut down their offense. Its what good planning and execution look like. It doesn’t mean we can’t beat LSU or UGA. It means we’ve proven we can adapt so we just gave DCs a whole extra set of things to worry about and plan for. I like our chances. We’re an underdog again this week and the boys seem to play well with a chip on their shoulder. Go Gators!!!.

  13. It’s time to DeFang and DeClaw the Tigers in the Swamp and reduce them to Gator Bait.
    The Gators are highly motivated after two road wins, plus they want to revenge last year’s close loss.
    Watch out for a relentless total team effort and Ed Ogeron babbling on the sidelines.
    Our special teams will flip the field, recover a fumble and hit two field goals.
    The D will get a pick 6, 3 sacks and dominate.
    The O will score two TD’s-one on the ground and one in the air including a bomb to Jefferson.
    Gators 27-21.

  14. Best post I saw about Mullen’s performance Saturday was a guy saying it reminded him of what Bum Phillips said of Don Shula: “He can take his’n and beat your’n, then take your’n and beat his’n.”
    Mark of a great coach. Go Gators!

  15. Gators! Congratulations! You showed you have some fight within…Now, this week you’re going up against a team that will match you are better you in almost all measurable parameters. The difference will surely come down to commitment and heart. You’re good enough to win but that alone won’t win you the game. It will take a zen like effort beyond your normal abilities. A spirit filled effort of relentless determination on every minute that you’re engaged. Don’t leave this game to the final minutes and hope for a chance it falls your way. You’ve got to find that determination deep inside and play above their level and keep it going never looking back. Don’t give them any opportunities to rise up and challenge your determination. Go for it. Play smart and play to win. Go Gators!

  16. i am noticing surprise on this chain…. WHY? I have been saying Top 25 and 4-1 by LSU…. you guys think our athletes just became less athletic overnight ? they just needed COACHING !! We could win EVERY GAME on our schedule from this point forward…. The east is BEGGING to be taken…. its basically a 3-horse race at this point with us, KY and the doggies… and you know who normally wins in JAX ???? that’s right …. get your flights to ATL folks ….

  17. Gators are improving each week. I don’t see that stopping now. This is the biggest test so far in this season. I look for the gators to keep fighting hard. Offense needs to step it up a notch. I predicted at the start of the season that we would go 8-4 maybe 9-3 with an upset, which we did at Mississippi State. Could it be another upset is at hand??? LSU is not unbeatable. Go Gators…………………

  18. One last comment on the up coming schedule. These are SEC teams playing SEC teams. Everyone wants to know the snot out of each other if not for championships to say they kept their arch enemy from reaching a championship. Look how many times UF beat UGA ending their hopes of SEC or NC aspirations. At the moment we are playing for nothing but that as no one (pundits) think(s) we have any chance of climbing that high on the ladder. There was a team like that back in the day and all they did was win, even when they shouldn’t and when no one gave them a chance. Are we that team? They can show us this weekend. We will be perched in a seat in the Swamp to cheer on the Gators. These guys have flashed talent at times and I hope it is all starting to gel. While we are getting better they are in all likelihood getting better as well. Give it 100% Gators, execute, run your routes, hit your assignments, play without penalties, Send the cats home scratching their heads as to what the Gators did to them. Here is another things about people from a different job in the world. I mentioned the quote from WWII that “they had no right to win, yet they did..” In that instance we turned the tide in the Pacific and won the war. Football is not war but the dynamics of teamwork are much the same. In that instance we learned we could win. If the Gators win this weekend (I think we can) they will have accomplished another of Mullens interview statements that they are learning how to win. We play different teams with different personalities and each game needs to be coached accordingly. I agree with so many of you that as a team we are lacking in a lot of areas but also as a team we are starting to turn into something special. On a given day I think these guys can win against most teams out there but they lack experience and will stumble a time or two on the way. If they win this weekend and Mullen can keep them focused we can win more than 8 games. I’d even say we could go 10-2 but I’ll be beat up now for saying that. But I’d bet 6’s paycheck on it. Barring injury/suspension bugs I like the direction we are headed.