With both of those schools chugging along the unbeaten path, a part of that focus has shifted to Florida. And, in resounding defensive fashion, the Gators have loudly and emphatically proclaimed “yes!”
Masterpiece or a thing of ugly, No. 10 UF’s win over No. 4 LSU in The Swamp signaled a turning of the corner for a football program that had wandered aimlessly through the final year of Urban Meyer in Gainesville and the first under Will Muschamp. While the 2012 Gators don’t possess the entertaining Meyer spread offense of years gone by, they ride a suffocating defense that, in this game, was made even more suffocating by a limp LSU offense that could muster little offensively.
It was far from pretty — perhaps something only a mother or a fan of the program could love — but it has propelled Florida back toward both the SEC and national stage.
Unbeaten at 5-0 on the season and 4-0 in conference play, UF will hit their respective pillows tonight tied for first place in the SEC West with either No. 5 Georgia or No. 6 South Carolina, pending the outcome of tonight’s matchup of unbeatens in Columbia. Of course, there’s still the little matter of, after a trip to Vanderbilt next weekend, squaring off against the Bulldogs and Gamecocks in back-to-back weekends, although both of those game will be played in the state of Florida.
And then there’s the big picture nationally. With LSU’s loss and either UGA or USC guaranteed its first loss of the season, the Gators are primed to take a significant jump when the polls are released Sunday afternoon.
Simply getting through the UGA/USC gauntlet, though, guarantees nothing nationally as there would still be a trip to Tallahassee to face No. 3 Florida State the final weekend of the regular season, not to mention the possibility of an SEC championship game against the likes of No. 1 Alabama or, even, a rematch with LSU on a neutral field.
Regardless of whether UF can sustain the momentum that’s slowly been building throughout the first half of the season, it appears — appears — Muschamp, after an up-and-down first season at the school, has the Gators headed back to where they had been for a better part of the last decade — being a factor in the chase for the BcS crystal.