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Gators still alive for SEC Title game and more

Florida Football Insiders

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Gators get set to play an early game Saturday at Columbia against the Missouri Tigers and while on the surface it’s seemingly an SEC team just playing out the string, in reality Florida still has a lot to play for Saturday. And, this could include potentially ending up in the SEC Championship Game.

First, the Gators have to take care of business and beat the Tigers, and then, they will tune in, with everyone else, and see what the Georgia Bulldogs, who currently lead the east by a game, will do in Auburn against the Tigers.

It’s a long-standing rivalry and Auburn is at home and should Auburn win, then it sets up the possibility that Florida could still be playing in Atlanta on December 7th.

That’s because, even though Georgia has the head to head win over Florida and they will control their own destiny in their game next week at home with Texas A&M, Florida will be sitting back at 6 – 2. And, that means a Bulldog loss allows the Gators will claim the East.

Now, the likelihood is: Georgia will win one or both of their remaining games and claim the spot in Atlanta and very possibly remain in the College Football Playoff mix. The Dawgs were controversially moved into the fourth spot earlier this week.

And, that’s because even though they have a bad loss to South Carolina at home, the Bulldogs do have the wins over Notre Dame and Florida on their schedule. And, with an Auburn win, it clinches the division and would solidify their standing even more.

Now, the Gators also want to keep winning for their hopes of a “New Year’s Six” bowl game alive, this as Florida is currently 11th in the rankings and does own wins over Miami and Auburn earlier this season.

This scenario to try to win the East in the final couple of weeks is not unlike what happened for the Gators in 2016. There in Jim McElwain second season Florida had to play the Hurricane Matthew makeup game with LSU in Baton Rouge. This was while leading Tennessee by a full game but having lost to the Vols earlier that year.

Had Florida lost to the Tigers in the makeup game, Tennessee would have only needed to win their final two games and they would have had the tiebreaker over the Gators to go to Atlanta.

Instead, the Gators took care of business stopping LSU with a goal-line stand in the final seconds and claiming the east division title outright with 6-2 record.

Georgia stands to be the outright east champ with two more wins. They are co-champs with the tiebreaker with one more win. And, they will be favored in both games.

So, there’s only a small chance that George is not going to win one or both of their remaining two games. However, Florida can put the pressure on with an early win Saturday and then a Georgia loss on the Plains later in the day.

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Gators announced home and home series with Cal Friday

Florida Football Insiders

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Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports

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:

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.

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Second National Signing Day recap for top state schools

Jamil King

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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