Crucial game for ’Champ, Gators

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Think about how different things would be for the Gators today had Tevin Westbrook not dropped that pass in the end zone in the closing minutes and the Gators had beaten LSU last Saturday. UF would be 4-1, with a good chance to go to 5-1 heading into the Georgia game, and a lot of the heat would be off Will Muschamp. Some might even be looking toward a bright future with ’Champ and his staff.

But, Westbrook dropped the pass and now Muschamp and the Gators are facing a must-win situation Saturday in The Swamp. If the offense struggles yet again (with two quarterbacks this time) and the Gators throw away another game, that might just do it for the Muschamp era in Gainesville. It might not be survivable.

The good news is the Gators finally are going to have a chance to see if Treon Harris can bring a much-needed spark to the offense, like the one he did in leading UF to the come-from-behind victory in Knoxville a few weeks ago.

The bad news, from what I’m hearing, is both quarterbacks (Harris and the slump-ridden Jeff Driskel) have struggled in practice this week. If that carries over into the game, there will be no offensive spark and the Gators will find themselves in a low-scoring game that will leave everyone in The Swamp frustrated yet again.

The Tigers routed the Gators a year ago in Columbia. But the player who inflicted the most damage, quarterback Maty Mauk, is in the midst of a Driskel-like slump. He threw for less than 100 yards and tossed four interceptions last week in a 34-0 loss to Georgia. So, we could see a whole lot of bad quarterback play Saturday.

My thinking is that if Georgia can shut down Mauk, so can the UF defense — as long as it stops making those deadly mental errors in the secondary.

As for the quarterback situation, I don’t think anything will be settled for the Gators on Saturday. I see UF coming out of the game with the same plan they have going in, and that’s to play both guys.

It’s not going to be pretty Saturday, but the result will be good for the Gators.

Prediction: Florida 17, Missouri 16.