The Florida Gators have risen three spots in USA TODAY Sports’s latest re-rank of all FBS college football teams. They come in at No. 46, one behind this week’s opponent, South Carolina.
The Gators had an up-and-down first half of the season. They came out of the gate swinging with an upset win over the defending Pac-12 champion Utah Utes in Billy Napier’s first game as Florida’s head coach. They went from unranked to No. 19 in the USA TODAY Coaches Poll after the victory.
They then lost to Kentucky and barely got a win over in-state rival USF, leaving them out of the top 25 entirely. Their close loss to Tennessee paired with their win over Eastern Washington caused expectations to stabilize.
What felt like positive momentum coming out of back-to-back home wins over Eastern Washington and Missouri rapidly evaporated. LSU‘s 45-35 victory over the Gators took the air out of the fan base, with the defensive showing not up to Florida fans’ standards. The bye week and 17 unanswered third-quarter points were not enough for the Gators to upset their SEC East rival Georgia.
Their road victory over Texas A&M was enough to improve their national perception, even if ever so slightly. The Gators took advantage of their opponent’s illness, injury, and discipline issues en route to a 41-24 victory in College Station.
Florida’s 5-4 record makes their path to bowl eligibility much easier. With games against South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Florida State remaining, Napier and his staff will put a strong emphasis on finishing the year strong to give the program some positive momentum heading into the offseason.
First up, South Carolina. That game will take place at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium this Saturday with kickoff scheduled for 4 p.m. EST and the game broadcast on the SEC Network.
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OPINION: More players will leave the Florida program. Don't panic.
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