Florida Gators: 2013 Could Be a Nightmare in The Swamp

By Scott Page
a haunting image
Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

For a team and fan base with championship aspirations, there are very few things more painful than missing out on a chance to play for trophies.

One is watching a hated rival compete for or win said trophies, which the Florida Gators were forced to do last season despite finishing with a surprising 11-2 record. This year, the Gators are expected to make a serious push for a spot in the SEC Championship Game, but two ghosts of the Gators’ past could create a nightmare scenario in 2014 for Florida and its fans.

What if Steve Spurrier’s South Carolina Gamecocks and Urban Meyer’s Ohio State Buckeyes play for it all in Pasadena on Jan. 6, 2014? How psychologically damaging would that be for Gator nation?

If that were to happen, would some Florida fans secretly wish for Spurrier and/or Meyer to come back to Gainesville? Perhaps the Head Ball Coach, but I suspect most true Gators want nothing to do with Urb, especially after he allegedly reported Florida for NCAA violations (which he denied doing).

Still, the thought of that scenario playing out has to be a maddening, if not frightening one, right?

After all, Florida’s mental state is still fragile after 2012, when the Gators were perhaps one fumble inside the five-yard-line against Georgia away from playing for the SEC Championship and a shot at the BCS National Championship Game. The image of Georgia’s Jarvis Jones punching ball out of tight end Jordan Reed’s hands as he approached the goal line probably still awakens Florida’s players, coaches and fans in the middle of the night.

But nothing hurts worse than watching a rival team or former coach enjoy success at your expense. Georgia is again the favorite to win the SEC East and return to the conference title game. Even if Florida is able to best the Bulldogs and prevent that nightmare from unfolding a second consecutive season, there’s still the Spurrier-Meyer confluence to worry about.

Meyer’s Buckeyes are coming off a perfect 12-0 season and are the hands-down favorites to win the Big Ten. If Ohio State lives up to expectations, it could very well make it to Pasadena.

Though Spurrier’s Gamecocks face a much tougher road to Pasadena through the grueling SEC East, home of three Top-10 teams, the Head Ball Coach certainly cannot be counted out. If South Carolina wins the league, barring several regular-season losses, it will more than likely make it into the BCS Championship Game for the first time in school history.

The good news for Will Muschamp and the Gators is the fact that they will have a little something to say about how the SEC and national title picture plays out. Though Florida doesn’t play Meyer’s squad, it certainly has an opportunity to knock Spurrier’s bunch out of the title conversation. Who knows, perhaps Florida wins the SEC Championship and goes on to play Ohio State for the BCS title.

How sweet would it be for Gator nation to knock off the two most successful coaches in its program’s history in the same season – and collect a conference and national title in the process? It sure beats the alternative scenario.

Read more about the 2013 Florida Gators: Rant Sports College Football Top 100: No. 10 Florida Gators.

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