Florida surprised the country with its lightning-fast ascension in the polls earlier this season. But since landing at No. 2, the Gators have lost in sloppy fashion to Georgia, struggled against Missouri and needed a blocked punt to stop Louisiana-Lafayette.
The last three weeks have proven that this Gators team was getting a lot of premature BCS love.
The Gators have had success in big games, defeating LSU and South Carolina, but their struggles show that this team isn’t quite ready for prime time. Defensively, this team is in elite company, but it can’t carry the weight of the program forever.
Elite teams will struggle at times, but rarely do they rely on a last-second blocked punt to win a game against an inferior opponent.
The problem that Florida faces is not talent, it’s youth.
Will Muschamp took over a program that had numerous roster issues after the departure of Urban Meyer, and he has battled to bring the Gators back to SEC Eastern Division prominence.
Florida is arriving, but the offensive issues are a glaring problem. Against Georgia—the season's only loss—the Gators were only able to mount 266 yards of offense. Only 75 came on the ground, which is the staple of this offense when it is successful.
Against Missouri, Florida totaled 276 yards in a close win, and Saturday against Louisiana-Lafayette the team only gained 311 total yards.
The Gators did lose starting sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel to an ankle injury in the third quarter, but the offense was stale through the first three quarters.
Brent Pease is doing what he can with the youth he is working with in Gainesville, but this unit is what makes Florida a mediocre one-loss team. Granted, the Gators are a mediocre team with an outside shot at the SEC title game.
Standing at 9-1 and No. 6 in the country, Florida should qualify for a very good bowl game, but the BCS should be out of the discussion. A season-ending game in Tallahassee against No. 10 Florida State should end the BCS discussion before it begins.
As the season finishes, the inexperience on the depth chart has begun to show for the Gators, keeping them from becoming an elite team in 2012.
Give Muschamp and his team another year and they will be in at Atlanta to start December. Driskel has improved over the course of his sophomore season, and given another year, he will be one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC.
But this season, despite the No. 6 ranking and one-loss record, this Florida team isn’t ready for the BCS.