Gators: Focus is on FSU


Published: Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 12:44 p.m.

As has been the case all season, the Florida football team shrugged off any BCS talk when meeting with the media Monday.

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Florida running back Mike Gillislee, center, fights through the line during the first half of the Gators' 23-0 win against Jacksonville State at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

ROB C. WITZEL/Special to the Guardian

Facts

GATOR GAME

What: No. 6 University of Florida Gators against No. 10 Florida State University Seminoles.
When: 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee.
TV/Radio: ABC, AM 850, 103.7 FM.
Information: Visit www.gatorsports.com or www.gatorzone.com/football.

UF moved up to No. 4 in the latest standings after Kansas State and Oregon were upset Saturday night.

If top-ranked Notre Dame loses at Southern Cal on Saturday and the Gators beat No. 10 Florida State, the Gators will play for the national title and face the SEC champion should No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Georgia win this weekend. Florida would have a 4-1 record against teams in the Top 15 of the BCS with a win over FSU, assuming the Seminoles stay that high in the standings.

UF defensive tackle Omar Hunter did not watch the countdown show Sunday night and hasn't heard any of his teammates talk about the BCS.

He even said sarcastically that he thought the Gators would be ranked 21st.

"Somebody just told me we were No. 4," Hunter said. "I didn't even know that. It would be great playing for a national championship again, but we just got to worry about Florida State this week."

Florida coach Will Muschamp said his team's only focus this week will be on defeating FSU, which he called a "huge if."

"We've got to take care of business Saturday," Muschamp said. "Any clutter outside of just focusing on the game Saturday really doesn't matter. That's my message for our football team. Let's understand what's at stake and what's important, and that's focusing on the game."

If UF walks away from Tallahassee with a win and gets some help from the Trojans, Muschamp said he won't have to campaign for a shot at the national championship.

"Our record speaks for itself and playing in the Southeastern Conference and playing the teams we've played, where we've played them, and being at the University of Florida," Muschamp said. "Our fan following is as good as anybody in the country. So I don't feel like you need to politic much other than put your shirt on and show where you are and who you are."

BCS 3-4 Rule

Regardless of what happens with Notre Dame, Florida is in for a big pay day if it can beat FSU.

UF would then be guaranteed to make a BCS bowl because of the 3-4 Rule, which ensures an automatic berth for at-large teams that finish No. 3 or No. 4 in the final BCS standings.

Muschamp said to be in that position is an accomplishment for the Gators given that they were barely bowl eligible in 2011.

"It says a lot about our senior leadership, our (coaching) staff and our strength staff and the job that they've done in our offseason program," Muschamp said. "All of those things point that we're headed in the right direction."

FSU importance

After two straight losses to the Seminoles, Muschamp said Florida needs to get back on the winning side of the rivalry.

The Gators had a six-game win streak from 2004-2009.

"There's a lot of things that I think when you take this job that you need to do," Muschamp said, "and you need to beat your rivals."

The BCS implications don't change the importance of Saturday's game in Muschamp's mind.

"This game is important for a lot of reasons beside any ranking that's involved or anything outside of that," he said. "It's an important game for the University of Florida. It's important for your state to win this football game. There's a lot of other reasons that come first and foremost in my mind as opposed to the external situation out there."

As for the beach house Muschamp shares with FSU coach Jimbo Fisher in Northwest Florida, he said they haven't sold it yet.

"I don't know, I haven't really talked to him," Muschamp said. "Nobody's buying up there right now."

Winning sexy

Muschamp was asked for his thoughts on the critics who say UF doesn't win impressively enough.

"Um, well," Muschamp said with a pause, "those three seconds I just thought about it, that's probably the most time I've spent thinking about it. Five now."

Muschamp said he agrees 100 percent with Bill Parcell's maxim that you are what your record says you are. His wife, Carol, also made him feel better about the way Florida's been winning.

"My wife told me I was sexy after the game," Muschamp said. "We don't win sexy, but she said, ‘You're sexy.' That's a positive. There's something good in that, I guess. She was kidding."

Zach Abolverdi is a Gainesville Sun correspondent.

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