First Down: MusChamps?
Who really thought at the beginning of the season the Florida Gators would be tied for first place in the SEC East after a victory against the LSU Tigers? The Gators didn’t enter the 2012 season as a favorite to compete in the east, let alone a national championship, but they’ve put themselves in contention with a stout defense. Head coach Will Muschamp has been trying for a signature win, although he might not think this way, us sickos who cover this sport have. Muschamp’s boys were able to nab their first win against a top 10 team at home since 2008. October hadn’t been kind to Florida in 2010 and 2011 as they went a combined 1-8 in the month.
Florida’s defense has been the most dominant in the east. So dominate in fact they have only allowed two touchdowns in the second half. This is a much different result than last year. In 2011, the Gators had been outscored 72-22 in the fourth quarter, but this season is a much different story. The offense has scored 31 points in the fourth quarter (+31 Margin) and as a whole has shown a fight required to win. The Gators have gone into halftime trailing in three out of four conference games, but each time they’ve come out with a victory. Opponents have only converted on third down 25.3 percent of the time.
This team is no pushover, but the next three weeks will each be a test going into Dudley Field to take on the Vanderbilt Commodores and then they get The South Carolina Gamecocks and Georgia Bulldogs at home. The Gators could very well be the SEC East representatives when it’s all said and done.
Second Down: Bowling with the Blue Devils
In case you haven’t noticed, the Duke Blue Devils are 5-1 and are one victory away from being bowl eligible for the first time since 1994. After earning that bowl berth, Duke suffered through four winless seasons in 1996 (0-11), 2000 (0-11), 2001 (0-11) and 2006 (0-12). It could be easily downgraded what the Blue Devils have already accomplished this season because the ACC becomes more and more disappointing every week. Climbing out of the cellar in a weak conference won’t exactly gain national praise, but Blue Devil football has earned a face-lift. According to ACC Sports, The School recently decided to spend $250 million on athletics, with a large chunk of that going towards renovations for 83-year-old Wallace Wade Stadium.
Head coach David Cutcliffe is a big part of the success. He has posted a 20-34 record since coming on board in 2008. Sure, the record would be a big failure at many universities around the country, but just factor in how prior to Cutcliffe, Ted Roof went 6-45 over four years plus. Cutcliffe has been great for the program, introducing rituals he hopes to turn into football traditions. The “Blue Devil Walk” began at the time of his first victory as head coach of the Blue Devils. Cutcliffe also showed commitment when he turned down making his way back to the Tennessee Volunteers when Lane Kiffin left. Duke is on the rise with Cutcliffe in charge.
Third Down: Saturday reflections
Saturday Delirium is more like it, but one thing has become abundantly clear; all signs are pointing to another SEC re-match in the BCS championship. Let’s just let that sink in for a moment. Florida, South Carolina and the Alabama Crimson Tide sit in the top five of the AP poll. The Gators and Gamecocks will meet and one of them will walk, or limp away with a loss, but don’t forget about Georgia and LSU. The Tigers have looked horrid on offense and the Bulldogs just got slapped around on national television, but do we really think the computers wouldn’t put a one loss Bulldogs or Tigers in the championship over a team outside of the king conference? Don’t forget the Tide made it in last season even without winning their division.
With the Florida State Seminoles chances gone, can the Oregon Ducks, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, West Virginia Mountaineers or Kansas State Wildcats please stand up? All four of those teams have a chance to run the table, but since when does that have anything to do with the outcome? Saturday proved once again no team is safe and just because there is a chance a team can run the table, chances are they won’t. The chances of the Mountaineers’ offense taking on Crimson Tide defense intrigues much more than a defensive SEC slug fest. We already know how those turn out.