Say this for the last two weeks of Gators football, it’s been anything, but dull.
And in the end, the dramatic “Hail Feleipe” bomb TD to beat Tennessee and Saturday’s last ditch drive to win at Kentucky have got Florida 2-0 in the conference and against the SEC East.
And, as we delve into what has gone on and the future schedule, the Gators are in great shape to make a run at winning the division and being in Atlanta for a third straight year under Jim McElwain.
Consider, this stat coming off the win in Lexington:
— Gators Football (@GatorsFB) September 25, 2017
Yep. They are getting good at “this heart attack stuff” in Gainesville.
And when you consider that McElwain has won 15 SEC games in his career and over half, half, have come down to the fourth quarter and one score, it becomes more impressive.
Whether it was the fourth down desperation Will Grier to Antonio Callaway connection to break Tennessee’s heart two years ago or the goal line stand to beat LSU in Baton Rouge last November, or these two latest last second victories, the Gators are winning close games.
Almost all of them.
That’s a sign not just of good fortune, but also preparation and belief in what you’re doing and each other. Clearly, the Gators have a bunch in the “belief department.”
Now, let’s quickly look at the future.
Florida will host Vandy this week, and while the Commodores usually play Florida tough, they are coming off being on the wrong end of a 59-0 beatdown by Alabama Saturday.
Needless to say, advantage Gators at the Swamp.
A win would set up hosting LSU the following week. And, with the Tigers having been blown out themselves by Mississippi State a week ago, and having to battle Syracuse in a back and forth game Saturday, Florida appears armed to handle them.
Not saying it will be easy, but it’s winable.
So, if, and, it’s still an “if,” the Gators can take care of business on the next two Saturdays, they will be 4-0 in conference play and 3-0 against the East.
While that is not “home free” to win the division, it’s awful lot better than how they looked in Arlington against Michigan or how they looked for a lot of the game Saturday night with Kentucky.
And, with the repeated ability to win the close ones?
That’s the best trend of all to continue.
Gators announced home and home series with Cal Friday
The Florida Gators continued their philosophy of striking “home-and-home” deals with Power 5 opposition, when they announced on Friday that they will be doing so with the Cal-Berkley Bears out of the Pac-12 coming later in this decade.
The Gators made the announcement through their website and social media mid-day Friday that they will play Cal at home first and then travel to Berkeley the following year:
Coast to coast❗
🐻 at 🐊 2026
🐊 at 🐻 2027#GoGators
— Gators Football (@GatorsFB) February 7, 2020
A.D. Scott Stricklin has broken up the long tradition that Florida would only play two home out of conference games in September and usually, against much lesser competition before entering SEC play. Stricklin has been very outspoken that in the age of the College Football Playoff, strength of schedule is emphasized and the selection committee holds schools responsible for not playing top-notch out of conference opponents, at least some of the time.
With that in mind, the Gators opened the 2019 season in Orlando against the Miami Hurricanes and won a sloppy game. And, they already have other Power 5 schools laid out to play home and away.
As we previously wrote, Florida will be playing the Texas Longhorns first in Gainesville in 2030 and then. return the game the following year in Austin.
Florida had previously announced last year that they will also play the Colorado Buffaloes out of the Pac-12, again with the first game in Gainesville in 2028 and then, returning it to Boulder the following season.
It’s interesting with Friday’s announcement that Stricklin and the football program are working backwards with the schedule. And, they will now play Cal before Colorado in September of 2026, and then will be opening on the Berkeley campus the following season.
Florida and Cal have only met two times, having played first in Gainesville in 1974 as the Gators wo 21 – 17 and then, they also met in Tampa to open the 1980 season with a Florida 41-13 blowout victory.
Second National Signing Day recap for top state schools
National Signing Day 2020 has come and gone, and several in state schools were able to improve their classes heading into spring ball. The University of Florida watched rival Georgia secure the number one overall class, but the Gators were still able to land the best class in the state with the number eight class overall.
The Gators officially signed former five-star receiver Justin Shorter from Penn State, and Florida stayed in the family today as well, Xzavier Henderson officially joined the Gators. He’s the ounger brother of former DB C.J. Henderson.
Dan Mullen also able to dip into the state of Texas inking four-star DE Princely Umanmielen. It wasn’t all great news for the Gators, as they missed out on a few key guys, including losing out on arguably top state safety Avantae Williams to in state rival Miami. Overall it was a good cycle for the Gators both recruiting and in the transfer portal.
The Miami Hurricanes continued an impressive offseason on National Signing Day. The Canes made arguably the biggest move in the state by landing Williams and keeping him Florida. Williams became the highest rated Hurricane in the class and propelled the U to the number 13 spot.
Miami has the second-best class in the ACC behind Clemson. With an impressive offseason in the books, once again excitement will be in the air in Coral Gables. The question is: will they live up to it in year two for Manny Diaz?
Florida State and new coach Mike Norvell have been working hard to get this class rolling last minute. After a good early National Signing Day Norvell looked to keep the momentum going. The Noles took a big hit Wednesday though, with the loss of Venice four star WR, Malachi Wideman, who flipped to Tennessee.
The Noles came back from that by landing a handful of other recruits. They got the number six Juco running back La’Damian Webb, ass well as, Robert Scott, an offensive lineman and Corey Wren, an athlete/running back.
Replacing Cam Akers will be tough for Norvell and building the offensive line is a top priority. The former Memphis coach came in late like he did, yet he finishes with a decent class sitting at 22 on 24/7.
Now the work begins turning around the former powerhouse.