Florida entered its annual rivalry with No. 10 Florida State with more questions than answers.
Will quarterback Jeff Driskel be at 100 percent coming off an ankle injury? Can the Gators offense move the football against the nation's toughest defense? Can the Gators impress voters enough to find a way into the BCS National Championship Game?
The answer to the first two questions is "yes," and while the BCS question was eliminated by Notre Dame's win over USC, their work on Saturday in a 37-26 win over the Seminoles certainly shouldn't go unnoticed.
Driskel wasn't great, but considering it was against Florida State, Gators fans have to be pleased with his work. The sophomore signal-caller completed 15-of-23 passes for 147 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Not Heisman numbers, but certainly enough to complement Florida's stout running game and stifling defense.
Running back Mike Gillislee was as good as advertised on Saturday, rushing 24 times for 140 yards and two touchdowns. We all laughed when he predicted that he would rush for 1,500 yards and 24 touchdowns in 2012 at SEC Media Days in July.
After the end of the regular season, he has rushed for 1,104 yards and scored nine times.
Not up to his self-proclaimed goal, but not too shabby either.
Florida isn't the prettiest team in the world, but it boasts the No. 2 ranking in the BCS computer average and is going to impress many voters with the way it fought through the adversity on the field—particularly early in the second half—to get out of Tallahassee with a big win over the home-standing Seminoles.
The BCS National Championship Game is out of reach, but this Gators team has earned the right to be in a BCS bowl.
What more do you want it to do?
Sure, the Gators laid an egg in the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. But they've beaten four teams in the Top 12, including road wins at No. 9 Texas A&M and No. 10 Florida State.
That's strong, really strong.
After the season it has had, Florida absolutely deserves a healthy reward.
After what we've seen this year, the best may be yet to come.
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