This is what’s called waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Florida is back in the SEC title game, and waiting for the Gators, as usual, is Alabama, 10-0 and ranked No. 1, well atop the College Football Playoff standings.
This doesn’t seem like the best year for Florida to break on through, does it?
It’s bad enough that the Gators are no longer national title contenders. They’re an 8-2 team coming off a gruesome home loss to a then 3-5 LSU team, lowlighted by that boneheaded shoe throw that cost them 15 yards and kept the winning LSU drive alive. The Gators lost it all, as perhaps former Heisman Trophy favorite Kyle Trask did with his three turnovers.
Truth be told, an upset win over Alabama might not even land Florida in the CFP. Not that the playoffs couldn’t use fresh blood. Anybody out there tired of Alabama, Clemson, and Ohio State? I know I am.
But two-loss Florida probably can’t crack the field. The only way the CFP standings shift, truly, is if Notre Dame turns Clemson into a two-loss team in the ACC title game, which would probably elevate Texas A&M into the playoffs over a Florida team it beat early this shortened SEC season. Yeah, the Gators are in a pickle, even if they beat Alabama.
This is all relative. Florida basketball star Keyontae Johnson is opening his eyes and speaking with family and teammates. That is what matters. That is what is important. What does any resurgence of Florida football matter next to that?
There is no getting around how Dan Mullen has put the Gators back on the stage. Nor is there any getting around that Alabama has a beatdown by Florida coming. The Crimson Tide has been rolling over the Gators ever since that December night in 2009 when Nick Saban and the Tide made Tim Tebow cry with an SEC title game shellacking on the way to a perfect season.
Saturday night doesn’t seem like the moment for Florida to steal the spotlight back. The Gators don’t have the defense for it. Trask gives them a puncher’s chance, to be sure, along with Kadarius Toney and Kyle Pitts, but Alabama tends to jump on you. They’ve outscored opponents 118-27 in the first quarter. They can see Trask’s Heisman chances and raise them, with Mac Jones at quarterback, Najee Harris, who has 22 touchdowns, and DeVonta Smith, an offensive force unto himself. Trask and his 70-percent completion percentage will have to buck that.
This isn’t one of those make-believe, smoke-and-mirror Florida-Alabama matchups like the Gators two losses to the Tide in the SEC title games under Jim McElwain. This game is the real deal.
It’s just that Florida isn’t quite real enough just yet. Alabama remains as real as it gets.