The Florida Gators Are The Nation’s No. 2 Team, With Ranking Comes Great Expectations

Remember 2006? Of course you do. The Florida Gators would finish the season as the nation’s No. 2 team according to the final BCS standings. And 2008? There were the Gators again at No. 2. How about 2009? The Alabama Crimson Tide held the No. 1 spot in the final rankings. Just last season? Alabama at No. 2. What do those teams have in common? They would each go on to victory in the BCS National Championship Game. But where did they start? And why am I asking you so many questions?

Jeff Driskel - Florida Gators

The Gators were No. 6 in the first set of BCS standings in 2006. In 2008, Florida was all the way down at No. 10. Alabama was No. 2 in 2009 (behind then No. 1 Florida). And the Tide were No. 2 in 2011. So the Gators weren’t in the top two of the first rankings during either of their title years, but the Tide were both times they won it all. Yes, were going somewhere with this.

On Sunday, the first BCS standings of the 2012 season were released and the top two spots were occupied by the programs that have won four of the last six championships. Alabama at No. 1 isn’t a surprise in even the loosest definition of the word. It was inevitable. There really is no debate on that, even if some will try. And even if some of those that would debate it should be our own Florida Gators.

Those Gators, though, they’re right there at No. 2 with the shock you were all looking for. In my own submission in the SB Nation College Football BlogPoll just one day ago, I had Florida at No. 3. I can’t argue the No. 2 ranking and won’t even try, but I did want to put it out there again that I wasn’t as generous. For a number of reasons really, but one in particular.

With high rankings come high expectations and maybe I don’t want to believe it all just yet. I was quite enjoying being the team that’s not supposed to be up there. After a 7-6 season, most of us Florida fans were thinking 9-4 was in the realm of possibility. We could see a perfect storm producing 10 wins, but we could also envision a season that brought eight. There were so many questions to be answered and improvements to be made that we just weren’t sure. And please keep in mind that being an optimistic fan is worlds different than taking a realistic approach of the situation before you. 2012 was to be an improvement on 2011. We could have seen 6-0 coming, but No. 2 was a shock.

You know how it goes, “If the season were to end today, we’d see another all-SEC national title game.” The season doesn’t end today, but yes, if it did, the Gators would face the Tide for the crystal ball. That scares me. It shouldn’t. After all, I’m a Florida fan and have been for most of my life (I’m not sure who I cheered for before I turned 5 years old and discovered the orange and blue), but it scares me because I’m not sure they’re ready. I was thinking everything would come together in 2013 and that would be the season the Gators could really make some noise. All of that came one season early. Or did it?

We’re at the halfway point of the season with games against South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida State still to come. Just two weeks ago, all three of those teams were in the top six. Today, they each have one loss, but they’re still three of this season’s better programs. Florida faces them all. 6-0 could very easily become 9-3. Then again, it could be 10-2. How about 11-1? Does anyone dare go to 12-0? We can ask that question. Not because we have the right to, but because there’s a real chance it could happen. That perfect storm isn’t 10 wins anymore. It’s higher.

South Carolina just lost to a team the Gators beat. Georgia lost to South Carolina. FSU lost to an ACC team they weren’t supposed to lose to. None of those losses guarantee future Florida wins, but they showed that there are ways to beat those teams. Put it all together and it’s all looking mighty bright in Gator Nation.

What happens from here starts on Saturday, but losses now bring an added disappointment. Expectations will do that to you. Before I’m lit up with “ALL LOSSES HURT!!!” let’s look at that statement. Some hurt more than others. Without expectations, they’re awful. With them, they take on an entire new meaning. Tell me, what was worse? Losing to the Seminoles in 2011? Or to Alabama in the 2009 SEC Championship Game? I know my answer.

The expectations aren’t going away and so we must accept them. Maybe even learn to like them. They increased after 3-0 and intensified after the win over LSU. Beat South Carolina and they may just be sky-high. I’ll be fine with that, but nervous. But I’ll take a good nervous over a bad one any day.

The Full Week 6 College Football BlogPoll: Where The No. 5 Florida Gators Get 9 First-Place Votes

Yesterday, my ballot. Today, the full Week 6 SB Nation College Football BlogPoll.

College Football Rankings 2011

Results for Week 6

# School Points/blog SD Delta
1 Alabama Crimson Tide (64) 24.37 1.43
2 Oregon Ducks (4) 23.20 1.65
3 South Carolina Gamecocks (7) 22.61 1.50 Arrow_up 4
4 West Virginia Mountaineers (1) 21.34 1.98 Arrow_up 4
5 Florida Gators (9) 21.23 2.03 Arrow_up 6
6 Kansas St. Wildcats (1) 20.23 1.81
7 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (1) 19.47 2.21 Arrow_up 2
8 Ohio St. Buckeyes 16.74 4.67 Arrow_up 4
9 LSU Tigers 14.67 3.73 Arrow_down -5
10 Oregon St. Beavers 13.82 4.28 Arrow_up 3
11 Florida St. Seminoles 12.52 4.18 Arrow_down -8
12 USC Trojans 12.14 5.00 Arrow_up 2
13 Georgia Bulldogs 12.06 3.24 Arrow_down -8
14 Oklahoma Sooners 11.75 4.34 Arrow_up 3
15 Texas Longhorns 10.97 3.34 Arrow_down -5
16 Clemson Tigers 9.64 4.46
17 Stanford Cardinal 9.63 4.38 Arrow_up 1
18 Louisville Cardinals 8.95 3.67 Arrow_up 1
19 Mississippi St. Bulldogs 7.84 4.09 Arrow_up 2
20 Rutgers Scarlet Knights 5.85 3.64 Arrow_up 3
21 Cincinnati Bearcats 5.38 3.73 Arrow_up 5
22 Louisiana Tech Bulldogs 3.78 3.80 Arrow_up 7
23 Ohio Bobcats 3.60 4.31 Arrow_up 2
24 Texas A&M Aggies 3.51 3.35 Arrow_up 6
25 Iowa St. Cyclones 1.68 2.63 Arrow_up 13
Others Receiving Votes: Boise St. Broncos | Baylor Bears | TCU Horned Frogs | Michigan Wolverines | Arizona St. Sun Devils | Texas Tech Red Raiders | Michigan St. Spartans | Duke Blue Devils | Penn St. Nittany Lions | Tulsa Golden Hurricane | N.C. State Wolfpack | Northwestern Wildcats | Nevada Wolf Pack | North Carolina Tar Heels | Nebraska Cornhuskers | Oklahoma St. Cowboys | Northern Illinois Huskies | Western Kentucky Hilltoppers | Toledo Rockets | San Jose St. Spartans | Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners | UAB Blazers
Updated: Oct 9, 2012 9:46 AM EDT

A few points:

• Good for the nine of you that gave the Florida Gators first-place votes. No really. But you’re out of your minds. The Gators have performed admirably and better than expected thus far. They have put together some impressive wins and look every bit like a team that realistically belongs somewhere between No. 3 and No. 8. They aren’t the nation’s best team though.

• LSU deserved a bigger fall. They lost to what we are seeing is a good Florida team and an elite Gators’ defense, but that’s also the third-straight week the Tigers have not played like a top-10 team. With six games to look at and three less-than-impressive outings, No. 9 is a dream that just isn’t true at the moment.

• Florida State and Georgia took the biggest dives here and did in my ballot as well. The Bulldogs’ loss was worse by the looks of it, but also to a much better team. At the moment, I believe Georgia should be the (ever so slightly) higher team. Ask me again tomorrow though and I might change my mind.

• We’re all starting to wonder just how far Oregon State can go.

• If Clemson and FSU were to play again, what would the outcome be?

Week 6 BlogPoll: Where A New SEC Team Takes Hold Of The No. 1 Ranking

It’s the week six BlogPoll and there’s a new No. 1 in town. For me, that’s South Carolina. For most, it’s probably not new at all because I’ll go ahead and predict that Alabama still holds the top spot for the entire poll. Regardless, the Gamecocks’ win over previously unbeaten Georgia was enough for me to give them the top ranking – for one week at least. We’ll see what this upcoming weekend brings.

A few points:

• Alabama has an elite defense. South Carolina has a defense I’m literally scared of. Being scared ranks slightly higher than elite status. No. 1 goes to the Gamecocks.

• The SEC took a slight hit with only three teams in the top 10 this week. Of course, that’s because the two teams that fell out were beaten by two others that stayed in.

• The AP Poll had the Gators as high as No. 4, but I’m more inline with the Coaches Poll. I was impressed with the comeback victory and am very happy with where Florida’s defense is headed, but I’m still cautious. October isn’t close to being over.

• Florida State taking the biggest dive had nothing to do with them being Florida State and everything with them giving away a 16-point lead to an unranked team. One of these years, we’ll stop saying the ‘Noles are back until we’re actually sure they’re back.

• Yes, that’s Duke at No. 23. It may not last long, but the Blue Devils make my top 25.

Predicting The 2012 SEC Football Season Game By Game (If Each Team Played 1,200 Games)

I guess it’s not that weird, but it is different. We here at The Bull Gator started this last season and figured we might as well continue. (We’re still not sure where our inspiration came from, but we’ve seen similar things done elsewhere, so thanks to anyone that may be doing something like this.) This is our way of predicting the 2012 SEC football season. It’s more than just win vs. loss. Instead, it’s how many times a particular team might beat another. Averages, if you will.

Instead of picking Team A over Team B, we tried to determine how many times we thought Team A would beat Team B if they played each other 100 times. While Team A may be heavily favored over Team B, there’s always that chance of an upset and we try to take that into account. Need an example? Here you go:

If the Florida Gators and Bowling Green Falcons played 100 times, you think the Gators would win 75 of those games. You feel the same way for each of the remaining 11 games on Florida’s schedule. That’s 12 matchups and 75 wins per game. 12 multiplied by 75 is 900; 900 divided by 100 (because in reality, the Gators don’t play each team 100 times; they play each team once) is 9. Therefore, based on your win number for each game, you believe Florida will end up with 9 victories in 2012 for a record of 9-3. Yes, you have technically predicted the Gators to win every game, but a 75% chance of winning each time out is far from perfect.

We set two rules for this exercise. One rule is obvious: A single game must have consistent results. If you believe Florida would beat Texas A&M 75 times, then you also believe Texas A&M would beat Florida 25 times. The other was set to force each of us to pick an overall winner: No matchup can be 50-50. You have to go one way or another even if your chosen mark is 51-49. Ultimately, we’re attempting to predict outcomes and there are no longer ties in college football.

Now that the lengthy (although much shorter than last year’s) explanation is over, here are the results. Discuss, agree with, argue against below.

A few notes:

• The highlighted numbers under the SEC East standings are there to show the only place in the entire standings where we disagreed with each other. Although Vanderbilt ends up fourth overall, individually Willy had them fifth behind Missouri.

• The highlighted schools under the SEC West standings are for the two national title contenders. We both ended up with Alabama ahead of LSU in the SEC West standings; however, if you look at just our picks, that’s not necessarily true. I give the edge to Bama in every game they play, while Willy has LSU beating Bama 55-45. The reason the Tide still come out on top for him is because of greater average confidence in their 11 wins than the Tigers’ 12.

• Finally, the highlighted numbers in the individual team schedules show the games we disagreed on from a win-loss standpoint. Last year, we didn’t disagree on a single game! That’s right, not one. This year there were six, four of which involved Tennessee. I’m not proud to say that in all four of those, I have the Vols coming out on top, but that doesn’t change the fact that we both think their probably a 6-6 team.

There you have it, our long-winded way of predicting the SEC in 2012.

2013 Football Recruiting: Florida Gators Lose Joshua Outlaw; Offensive Guard Decommits

Take a moment and try to come up with every appropriate canned saying or song title you can think of. They all probably have the same general theme – “Another One Bites The Dust.” That’s how the Florida Gators are feeling at the moment with the decommitment of offensive guard Joshua Outlaw.

A three-star guard from Lithonia, GA (Martin Luther King), Outlaw has decided to reopen his recruitment. Exactly where he stands and where he might end up is a question at the moment, but look to the Georgia Bulldogs as a possible player. In reality, we don’t even know if Florida is completely out of it just yet.

What makes this loss different than the rest, is that Outlaw left on his own. There are rumors swirling that the other recent commitments to leave all were nudged out the door ($). Whether Will Muschamp and the coaching staff had reevaluated them and thought they weren’t a good fit or whether they had their eyes on someone else, the talk in the recruiting world is that the Gators may have been the ones to initiated the decommitments. That’s not the case with Outlaw. The offensive lineman left on his own.

There are other names on Florida’s board, but not many when it comes to the guard position. There’s talk of Tyrone Crowder or Joe Fennell and the Gators will need to secure one, if not both. Florida needs offensive line depth desperately and guard might just be at the top of the list. Outlaw wasn’t the nation’s best at the position, but he was a body; a body the Gators didn’t want and can’t afford to lose.

Georgia Bulldogs Dismiss Isaiah Crowell After Running Back Is Arrested On Weapon Charges

The Georgia Bulldogs have dismissed running back Isaiah Crowell from the team after his arrest on weapon charges. Crowell was arrested early Friday morning and charged with possessing a weapon in a school zone, an altered identification mark, and possession of a concealed weapon. The first two are felony counts while the third is a misdemeanor. Georgia head coach Mark Richt wasted little time dismissing Crowell from the team.

Crowell was with teammates Sheldon Dawson, Quintavius Harrow, Josh Harvey-Clemons and Blake Tibbs when the car he was driving was stopped at a vehicle checkpoint. At the time, a police officer believed she could smell marijuana in the car and asked if a search of the vehicle could be conducted. Crowell consented to the search and while no marijuana was present in the vehicle, a 9-millimeter Luger with the serial number scratched off was found under the driver’s seat. Crowell denied any knowledge of the gun being present in the car.

Crowell had a productive freshman season that was marred by disciplinary problems. He showed the promise and potential expected of one of the nation’s top recruits and finished his first season in Athens, GA with 850 rushing yards and six total touchdowns. Much of the same was expected of Crowell during the 2012 season. He was to lead an impressive stable of backs that will now have to carry the run game without him.

2013 Football Recruiting: Athlete Derrick Henry No Longer Committed To Georgia Bulldogs

During the 2012 recruiting cycle, an athlete from the 2013 class jumped to the top of many wish lists. While programs focused on putting together their 2012 classes, they couldn’t help but notice Yulee, FL (Yulee) athlete Derrick Henry. One of the nation’s best in his class, Henry was a want of nearly every major program in the nation. Among those were the Florida Gators.

With a need a running back, wide receiver, and virtually every other position Henry could conceivably play, the Gators kept an eye on Henry. There was even a time when Florida was considered the leader. But not long after that news began to surface, Henry pulled the trigger and committed to Georgia. After 11 months and numerous other visits, Henry is a free agent again. On Wednesday, the athlete announced he was no longer committed to the Bulldogs.

The news comes after a weekend Henry spent at Alabama – considered to be among his favorites. Also on that list is another SEC program, Tennessee. It seems more and more likely that Henry will end up in the Southeastern Conference, but Georgia may now be a long shot.

As for Florida? Well, the Gators could be as well. Since Henry’s commitment to the Bulldogs, the Gators have added Adam Lane and Kelvin Taylor. Although Henry has also been mentioned as a possible receiver or defensive back, Florida has added numbers at those positions as well. They could always use more, but a lot of time has passed with Henry.

The coaching staff may test the waters and see where Henry’s mind is now that he is no longer committed to Georgia, but nearly one year after being rumored as the leader for him, Florida has an uphill battle if they want to join in the fight again.

Former Florida Gators Safety Will Hill Signs With New York Giants

Former Florida Gators’ safety Will Hill has signed with the New York Giants. Hill left Florida with one season of eligibility remaining after the 2010 season, but wasn’t selected in the 2011 NFL Draft. He spent time with the Arizona Rattlers of the AFL before recently signing with New York.

Hill holds a place in Gators’ history, although it’s not always a favorable one for Florida fans. Coming out of high school, he was one of the nation’s top recruits, but his talents never seemed to show up with him. From not becoming the superstar fans wanted him to be to questions regarding his desire, Hill struggled with consistently performing on the field. His signature moment as a Gator was in 2010 against the Georgia Bulldogs when he intercepted Aaron Murray (his second of the game) in overtime. Other than that key play though, this is the moment many fans remember Hill for the most:

Hill now has a chance to resurrect his career and finally bring his talents and abilities to good use. If he can keep his head on straight and dedicate himself to the game of football and not all of the outside influences that may come along with it, he’ll have a chance to make a career out of the game. It will be a tough road for Hill, but finally finding a team is a start.

Baseball Recap: Florida 6 – Georgia 3; Gators Win Hard-Fought Series

On Sunday, the No. 1/5 Florida Gators defeated the Georgia Bulldogs 6-3 to win the hard-fought weekend series between the two. With game one going to 16 innings, and game two resulting in a 5-3 Georgia victory, there was little doubt Florida would have a tough battle ahead of them in the series finale. The win pushed the Gators record to 31-9 (11-7 SEC).

Senior center fielder Daniel Pigott was the hero, sending a three-run shot over the fence in the sixth inning to break a 3-3 tie. Pigott went 3-for-3 on the day and drove in four of the Gators six runs. Amazingly, his day in the field was the exact opposite in terms of excitement. It was a relatively quiet day in Pigott’s area of the outfield and the senior didn’t manage a single putout.

The Gators used six pitchers in the win with sophomore reliever Karsten Whiston getting the victory to improve to 2-0. Junior Austin Maddox closed out the Bulldogs in the ninth to record his 11th save.

Florida is off on Monday then hosts USF on Tuesday night at 7:00pm.

Baseball previews and recaps are sponsored by Ben Versnik and Advocare – a world-class nutrition company specializing in health and wellness, weight management, vibrant energy and sports performance.