’Dog day in Jacksonville


I’ve had some Florida fans come up to me over the past two weeks and tell me that Saturday’s game in Jacksonville is a win-win for the Gators. If they win the game, great. If they lose the game, well, great also because Will Muschamp’s demise as UF’s coach will have been confirmed.

If that’s the way UF fans are viewing things, then they can relax and enjoy the afternoon at EverBank Field. There’s no pressure. No anxiety. No reason to squirm in your seat. They’re walking away with a win regardless of the outcome on the field.

But for Muschamp and the Florida players, the pressure is going to be intense. For Muschamp to have any chance to extend his coaching career at UF for a few more weeks, the Gators are going to have to win Saturday — or at least be competitive and have a chance to win in the fourth quarter.

This may be asking way too much from a team and a coaching staff that just can’t seem to come up with any answers this season. The mystifyingly bad, turnover-plagued performances just keep coming.

I thought the Gators would play Alabama tough. They did not. They were blown out in Tuscaloosa. I thought they would beat LSU at home. They did not. They threw the game away. I thought they would easily handle Missouri. They did not. They turned the ball over six times and were embarrassed on homecoming night.

Why should we expect anything different Saturday in Jacksonville?

On paper, this is a huge mismatch in Georgia’s favor. Only a week after the Bulldogs trashed Missouri 34-0, Florida lost to that same mediocre Tiger team 42-13. So, on paper, that makes Georgia, oh, 63 points better than Florida.

Saturday’s game could turn into a rout, especially if the Gators continue to give the football away. But I don’t think things will get 63 points bad. This is a rivalry game that has gone down the final minutes in each of the last three seasons, and maybe that will happen again.

One of the biggest frustrations for the Gators is that they are working hard, playing hard, giving it all they’ve got every week, but they are not getting any results — other than disappointments and losses.

Who knows, maybe Treon Harris’ cool, calm demeanor will trickle down to his teammates and the Gators will relax and play their best game of the season. But even that may not be good enough against one of the hottest teams in the SEC.

Prediction: Georgia 31, Florida 20