Preseason goal: Going undefeated at home
Published: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 1:33 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 1:33 p.m.
The Florida Gators haven't given up on their goal of making it to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game. That one, however, is out of their hands and considered a longshot at best.
What: No. 7 University of Florida (8-1) vs. University of Louisiana at Lafayette (5-3).
When: 12:21 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, aka The Swamp.
TV/Radio: ESPN2, 103.7-FM, AM-850.
Information: www.gatorsports.com or www.gatorzone.com/football.
But another important preseason goal is very much within their reach.
"We want to go undefeated in The Swamp this year," junior cornerback Jaylen Watkins said Monday.
Winning them all in The Swamp this season is a big deal because Florida failed to do that the past two seasons.
In 2010, the unthinkable happened — the Gators lost three games at Florida Field, falling to LSU, Mississippi State and South Carolina. They were all disheartening losses, but none quite like the one to the Gamecocks. In a game to decide the Eastern Division champion, the Gators were routed on their home field 36-14.
Then last season there were two more somewhat embarrassing moments in the stadium where UF has rarely lost dating back to 1990 — a 38-10 humbling at the hands of Alabama and a 21-7 loss to arch-rival Florida State that led Will Muschamp to label his football team "soft."
Given the recent history, taking back The Swamp is high on the list of season goals for 2012. And the Gators can achieve it with victories over two teams that figure to be considerable underdogs in the next two weeks — Louisiana Lafayette and Jacksonville State.
"We don't want to lose in The Swamp," senior tailback Mike Gillislee said. "Only Gators get out alive. That past two years, we lost in The Swamp and we want to get it back to how it used to be."
Some of that old Swamp magic has returned this season.
It was present in the Gators' 14-6 victory over No. 3 LSU on Oct. 6. It returned two weeks later in Florida's 44-11 dismantling of South Carolina and the man who gave the stadium its nickname — Steve Spurrier.
Now, the Gators are on the brink of completing a perfect 7-0 home season.
The Gators expect to successfully defend their home turf Saturday afternoon, then redirect their attention to that other goal that is out of their hands. The players and coaches will watch the Georgia-Auburn game Saturday night and hope the Tigers can pull off the big upset.
If that happens, Florida would win the division and a trip to Atlanta.
Robbie Andreu is a Gainesville Sun staff writer.
Last home game
Florida's Nov. 17 game against Jacksonville State is set for a 1 p.m. kickoff at Florida Field and will be carried on pay-per-view on participating cable systems, satellite systems and commercial establishments throughout Florida.
The live PPV airing will be in addition to Sun Sports' taped presentation of the game airing during the network's Sunday morning edition of Breakfast with the Gators beginning at 8:30 a.m. and again at 11 p.m. Tuesday.
Per Southeastern Conference television contracts, when an SEC team does not have its game selected for live TV by one of the SEC's television partners (i.e. CBS, ESPN, SEC Network, etc.), it is permitted to offer that game live on a statewide basis on pay-per-view.
Therefore, this game is not available to Sun Sports to air live on its network, but Sun Sports can produce the telecast and make it available to Florida cable/satellite systems and commercial establishments to deliver via pay-per-view.
Outside Florida, the game will be offered via ESPN GamePlan.
— Special to the Guardian