Gators Looking For Payback, Redemption… And Bowl Eligibility

It’s weird to see the Gators in the same conversation as bowl eligibility. Even last year, it wasn’t really a question.

But losses to South Carolina and Florida State could mean that Florida will be watching the bowl games from home, since Furman does not count toward bowl eligibility.

On the flip side, a win in either one guarantees a bowl.

South Carolina is first.

Right now, Georgia, Florida State, South Carolina and Auburn are tops on the list for payback from the Gators. The Bulldogs and Tigers will have to wait until next year, and FSU can wait until Thanksgiving weekend. But we have a chance right now to get even with South Carolina for the embarrassing beating they gave us in the Swamp to claim the SEC East. Yes, this means Georgia wins, but again, that can wait until 2012. We can only pay back SC, so either we get revenge on neither of the two, or one of them. I’ll take one of them.

A victory would complete the gigantic fall from being the team to beat in the SEC East to watching the SEC Championship Game at home and potentially dropping out of the Top 25. Though injuries have certainly played a key part in that, the Gators can take the pleasure of knowing that hammered in the final nail on the coffin, and the teams will be even.

But this game means more than that.

This might seem familiar, and yes, this is what I wrote prior to the Georgia game, but every game in college football means so much since there are so few of them. This is a chance for Florida to prove that they have turned the corner. Vanderbilt was one game. Can Florida play good football consistently, or was it just a one game deal? Vanderbilt was no joke, but Carolina is better, even without Lattimore. Hopefully, the maturity and improvement process will continue in this game, too.

If the Gators win out, then it’s all good in Gator Nation. We have a top 5 recruiting class coming in, with guys fit to run Weis’s system on offense, including three of the nation’s top offensive linemen, two dynamite running backs to replace Rainey and Demps, and more defensive help. We’ll be looking good in 2012. And really, that’s all we’re playing for- to set ourselves up for a good 2012 season (that and to give the loyal seniors a great sendoff).

Let’s not think about what losses would do, because these are all winnable games. Of course, Florida has blown two winnable games, so we know this team is perfectly capable of ending its season in horrific fashion.

It really comes down to this- win out and the Gators’ pilot season under Will Muschamp is a success. 9-4 with wins over rivals Tennessee and FSU, at the home of a top 15 team and a bowl win would be some feat for this team after losing four straight.

But perhaps the best thing about it would be to see Muschamp’s favorite philosophy get used by his players to perfection.

Adversity.

Then we’ll know Muschamp is for real.

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