Back Nine: Gators need win because season is far from over


Florida head coach Will Muschamp cheers on his players during the first half against Georgia at EverBank Field in Jacksonville on Saturday.

Doug Finger/Staff Photographer
Published: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, October 29, 2012 at 9:59 p.m.

The Back Nine comes at you after a weekend that was pretty strong. Even the traffic was reasonable going to the game. Maybe the cops should have doubled as officials at Florida-Georgia.

10. It is clear to me that no matter what your opinion is when it comes to Florida's biggest rivals, Georgia is Florida's and vice versa. After watching two great defenses play against the Gators in LSU and South Carolina, I will tell you that Georgia hit harder. And it was pure energy. Unfortunately, the hatred these teams have for one another made this ugly, from the pre-game scuffle that UF strength coach Jeff Dillman had to break up to the numerous penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct. That game was a poster for the SEC's intensity, but not its quality of play or sportsmanship. I think a lot of it has to do with what was at stake. But that's no excuse for either team to act the way they did.

11. It was funny Saturday night to hear more than one Georgia fan console more than one Gator fan the same way, “Hey, don't worry. This isn't over. We'll probably lose to Ole Miss.” I don't see it, but it wouldn't be a surprise for Georgia to come out flat after putting a season's worth of testosterone into the Florida game. As good as Georgia's defense played, Florida almost passed for as many yards (185) against the Bulldogs as it did in wins the three previous weeks against LSU, Vanderbilt and South Carolina (232). It's important for Florida to come out Saturday ready to play and beat Missouri for several reasons — 1. It still gives them a shot at the East title; 2. Any Florida team that goes 7-1 in league play should be applauded; 3. This thing isn't over.

12. It's not over because Florida is No. 7 in the BCS standings and there is a scenario where Florida could still play in the national title game. I didn't buy into Florida as a national championship contender when the Gators were 7-0, but what I'm saying is that there's a chance. Certainly, Florida's computer ranking won't be helped over the next three weeks, but at No. 7 in the BCS all it would need is to win out and have chaos in front of it. Don't think it can't happen. In 2006, Florida was No. 4 in the BCS at this point of the season, but was No. 6 the week before. In 2008, the Gators were fifth at this point of the season, eighth the week before. And it's important for Florida to win out because it probably will land the Gators in the Sugar Bowl.

13. No change on my Heisman Trophy ballot. I still have Collin Klein at the top with Manti Te'o second and AJ McCarron third. Even after a crazy Saturday where five unbeaten teams lost, the Heisman race still seems to be Klein's to lose. I wouldn't want to guess right now which of the three teams who all have an argument to be No. 2 will end up facing Alabama in the national title game. That will be the most interesting part of the last quarter of the season. What's that you're saying? Am I dismissing LSU in Tiger Stadium this Saturday? Well, kind of. Have you watched the Tide play this season?

14. While an Alabama-Notre Dame title game would have great historical implications, it might be the most boring game ever. Those two teams play serious defense. How did offensive whiz Brian Kelly take Notre Dame from soft to rock-hard so fast? It's a real mystery.

15. Remember when Gator fans were so upset after the opening game against Bowling Green? Well, don't look now but the Falcons have won five straight and are eighth in the country in total defense. They've given up 33 points in their last five games. So maybe Florida struggled because Bowling Green has a pretty salty defense. Or maybe Florida struggled because its offense is ranked 102nd in the nation, one spot below Kansas.

16. There's a part of me that is like a lot of people out there, whether they be Jets fans or part of the Tebow Nation. That part of me wants to point out to Rex Ryan how Tim Tebow saved a season in Denver last year and that it can't get any worse. Why not give him a shot? But there's a part of me that knows the Jets are bankrupt of offensive talent and that Timmy would flounder just as much as Mark Sanchez in that offense and I'd just as soon not watch that happen. And there's another part of me that knows I would watch if he was in the game. I have a lot of parts.

17. The Tweet of the Week comes from LeBron James, who I have to admit I am warming up to (and I'm sure that will make his day) — “Feel awful for Marcus Lattimore. Sad. Really hope he recovers fully!! #BigTimePlayer.” I think that sums up the feelings of everyone who enjoys the game. It was hard to watch, but I sure hope he comes back.

18. You know, this weekend started off so great only to be ruined by a four-hour festival of penalties and turnovers and replays in Jacksonville. The highlight was definitely The Avett Brothers concert Thursday night at the O-Dome. The boys put on quite a show. I always love a band who seems to appreciate the people who took the time and spent the money to come see them. Anyway, try these beauties — “Ain't Messin ‘Round” by Gary Clark Jr., “Somewhere To Hide” by Shiny Toy Guns and for the for the old school in you “Lithium” by Nirvana.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at dooleyp@gvillesun.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.

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