Hours after the 2008 season appeared to have died on a failed Tim Tebow quaterback sneak, the Gator Nation got a repreive from an unlikely source: Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Bama’s crushing 41-30 win over Georgia – in which the Dogs had a glimmer of hope in the second half only to see it quickly extinguished – means that right now that the leading team in the SEC East Division remains the Vanderbilt Commodores. (Yeah, I know, something just doesn’t sound right when you say that.)
But the Georgia loss, and the ongoing futility of the Tennessee Volunteers, means that the Gators still have a decent shot at taking the East and have a chance at redemption by playing in the Southeastern Conference title game. With six SEC games remaining, including ones against Georgia, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, and LSU, the Gators will have ever opportunity to win this wide-open race.
It won’t be easy, far from it. The Oct. 11 LSU game will be crucial because right now the Tigers look like the one team that could stop Alabama’s march to the championship game. And there’s always the prospect of another unheralded team to surprise them. (Like say the still undefeated Kentucky Wildcats, although that will likely end next weekend.)
Now as for the elusive goal of another national title for Coach Urban Meyer, I think that is out the window.
The main problem is that the Gators lost to an unranked, twice-beaten team, and no, it doesn’t matter that the Gators lost by just one point. The damage is done. This is not the kind of team you are supposed to lose to at home. Another knock to the Gators title hopes: Bama’s drubbing of Georgia means that the Gators won’t get as much credit in the computer polls if they knock off the Bulldogs in Jacksonville.
It’s not that it couldn’t happen, but the Gators would have to pile drive through the rest of their season and hope for another slew of upsets to wreak havoc in the college football world. There’s still a lot of undefeated teams out there including Oklahoma, Texas, Penn State, and even that team down the road from Tampa, the University of South Florida.
But there’s still a lot more football to play. Heck, it’s not even October yet. Anything can happen.