A victory for Florida at LSU will open up a Pandora's Box
Playing to what if's and hypotheticals is a slippery slope. But here I am - ready to slide right down into the black hole.
For the No. 7 Florida Gators, last Saturday's win against Auburn was huge. The crowd numbers were huge. The hype was huge. The importance of the game was huge. Florida's ability to show out in front of over 90,000 spectators helped the Gators get the national respect they've been looking for. ESPN's College GameDay host Kirk Herbstreit even listed the Gators as his top-performing team in Week Six.
Look, I'm not a giddy school child who's about to tell you that Dan Mullen and the Florida Gators are a lock in the College Football Playoff - we leave that to Scooter Magruder.
However, I am here to tell you that Florida's win over Auburn might have opened up a new can of worms in the college football world. Following the 24-13 victory, Dan Mullen said "It's a big win tonight. It won't mean a whole lot by tomorrow morning."
Now, hold on, coach. I'm all for team's not dwelling on losses or on victories - in fact, I believe it's absolutely necessary in order to be successful. But overlooking last Saturday's win won't be easy. And it shouldn't be. In the eyes of the national media, what happened on Saturday night was equivalent to the nerdy freshman sucker-punching the senior jock on the playground. The playground scrum might not have been pretty, and the runt may have asked for his inhaler right after the brawl.
But for the rest of the school year, everyone will be watching the four-eyed freshman out of the corner of their eye. That's the story here. Everyone is now recognizing the scrappy team that Dan Mullen is building in Gainesville. They aren't sexy, there's no curb appeal, but they're functional. They get the job done. They put up more points than the other team -- and that's all that matters.
Tonight, the Gators will be faced with a new challenge. A moonlit battle in the bayou. Death Valley is a scary place for college football teams. But Death Valley at night? With a full moon?
Florida played pitcher last week as their home crowd helped rattle Bo Nix and company. However, this week, the Gators are playing catcher as they are on the receiving end of one of the most hostile environments in college football.
This is the third straight Tiger team the Gators have played. But this one - this one is a bit different. Not only is this a game fueled by passionate hate (props to Hurricane Matthew), but on the field, it's shaping up to be captivating.
Joe Burrow and the revamped LSU offense has scored 54.6 points per game this season. The Gators’ defense has allowed 57 points on the entire season. Something has to give.
Who will crack first? I don’t know the answer to that – I don’t. If I did, I wouldn’t be writing this. I’d be somewhere in Vegas cashing in.
But for the sake of this argument, what if LSU is the one to crack? What if the Tigers are bested at home by the Gators? Then what?
Well, if the Gators go 7-0, it’ll be as if the college football experts are at the bar and the bartender hollers, “Last call!” and they throw back one more beer. They look across the bar and make eyes with the team they passed up earlier in the night.
Seven beers in and that team is looking sexier than ever.