There are two extremes of people or, rather, two extremes of football fans.
There are those who are part-realists and part-pessimists, who are always ready to pump the brakes while all around them fans are seeing faux confetti.
And there are the ones who wake up with deeply-creviced smiles every morning after a huge win by the home team and start asking where the College Football Playoffs are this year even though it’s only halfway through a long season.
Of course, most Florida fans right now are positioned somewhere in the middle with a schooner of giddy chased by a shot of sensibility.
I believe it was the great Oscar Wilde (or was it Oscar Madison?) who once wrote, “Yes, I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight.”
In the moonlight of Saturday night (it will be a full moon, I checked), Florida’s football team will enter a vicious environment (there is a difference between loud and angry) with its dreams still intact.
Isn’t that about all you can ask for? To be in this situation, unbeaten and still in the hunt?
The question is — what are you hunting and how deep into the woods are you willing to go?
This season began with high expectations, but they were tempered by the shaky offseason and the knowledge that just surviving this conference would be hard enough.
That win over Auburn, built on sweat, noise and discipline, might have changed some expectations.
Or just made them seem more possible.
Florida is ranked seventh in the country and is one of those teams nobody nationally seems to want to fall in love with, but is starting to look a little better as we get closer to last call, also known as Championship Saturday.
Perchance to dream, right? Oh wait, that was Shakespeare talking about death. Let’s stay away from that analogy. How about something from John Lennon instead?
“Dream, dream away
Magic in the air
Was magic in the air?”
Why not dream of magic? You’ve seen it before. I mean, when was the first time you thought the 2006 Florida team had a chance to win a national title (for me, it was halftime of the Ohio State game)?
I’m not saying you should be getting ahead of yourselves Gator fans. The road ahead looks like something out of the movie “Mad Max.”
And in a way, these Gators are playing with house money. The consensus was that Florida had to split the Auburn and LSU games to keep its dreams alive.
But you know how it is. You get that first game of a two-game series and you want more. That’s part of being a fan, feeling your expectations change as every result rolls in.
I’m not saying Florida is going to roll into Baton Rouge and roll out with another win over a CFP contender. But if the Gators do exactly that — and there is a possible path to get there — all of a sudden your expectations get bumped up a notch.
What were they before the season?
What are they now?
What will they be if UF beats the No. 5 team on the road?
While this may seem like an exercise of contradiction considering I picked Florida to lose last week and will find it difficult to pick against a two-touchdown favorite this week, I know there are dreamers out there.
I CAN look ahead, while everyone is still looking back at a memorable Saturday in The Swamp.
Florida can win Saturday night. LSU is doing amazing things on offense, but the Tigers have not played a defense with a pulse. The average total defense ranking of the four FBS teams LSU has played is a smooth 96th in the country.
And then I dreamed on, into the future, as H.I. McDunnough said in “Raising Arizona.”
What isn’t possible? Alabama suddenly isn’t elite on defense. Clemson suddenly is pedestrian on offense.
Whoa, there, cowboy, let’s rein in that silly talk for a minute. Aren’t you supposed to be the leathery, old ink-stained wretch who was born with a restrictor plate in his head?
Yeah, but even I like to dream sometimes. It beats nightmares.
— Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.