Florida Football: 3 Reasons the Gators Would Beat Notre Dame
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The Florida Gators aren't going to get a shot at taking down No. 1 Notre Dame.
They have only themselves to blame for that.
But if given the chance, how would the Gators fare against the undefeated Fighting Irish?
It's the question that will never be answered, but let's take a look at three reasons why Florida would beat Notre Dame.
Florida Has the Nation's Best Battle-Tested Defense
No one, including myself, can dispute Notre Dame's No. 1 scoring defense.
Opponents simply couldn't score against Manti Te'o and Co.
The Fighting Irish held five opponents to single-digits, including a three-game stretch early in the season where they allowed just 12 combined points against Michigan State, Michigan and Miami.
Upon closer examination, however, those offenses ranked just 109th, 58th and 43rd in scoring and would have no place near the national championship.
Who would win in a matchup between Florida and Notre Dame?
The best offense Brian Kelly's squad faced was Oklahoma (No. 12 in scoring), although the Fighting Irish did limit the Sooners to just 13 points.
In the case of the Gators, there's no doubt Will Muschamp's squad has faced the toughest onslaught of opponents of any team in the country.
Led by safety Matt Elam and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, UF earned wins against a who's who of opponents, including Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M's No. 3 scoring offense and Florida State's No. 14 scoring offense.
Even though Florida's only loss did come against Georgia and its No. 18 scoring offense, the only reason the Gators were in a position to win that game in the final minutes was because of their tremendous defense.
UF has faced and shut down run-heavy offenses like LSU and South Carolina, a Heisman favorite in Manziel and a diverse attack in FSU.
Give UF a chance against Notre Dame's offense—which happened to average the same 26.8 points per game as the oft-criticized Gators offense—and the results would be clear: Florida has the nation's best defense.
Caleb Sturgis and Kyle Christy Are the Nation's Best Specialists
Besides Mike Gillslee and Matt Elam, no pair of Florida players has been more valuable than kicker Caleb Sturgis and punter Kyle Christy.
For a team that's ranked No. 3 in the BCS polls, that sounds absurd, but anyone who's watched the Gators on a consistent basis understands how important the right legs of these two have been.
Sturgis, a redshirt senior, has been absolutely money over the past two seasons, nailing 45 of 53 field-goal attempts.
Even more impressive for the team's unsung hero—he's three for three from 50+ yards.
His remarkable consistency has earned Muschamp's unequivocal trust and the title of the best kicker in the country.
With Sturgis alleviating the inconsistencies on offense, Christy has been an invaluable weapon for Florida's defense.
The sophomore punter's booming right leg has given the Gators' defense excellent field position.
Christy averaged 46.1 yards on 62 punts, including 25 of 50+ yards or more and 26 inside the 20-yard line.
The Gators' offense certainly would struggle to move the ball against Notre Dame's stout defense, but having two weapons like Sturgis and Christy in your back pocket can fix a lot of potential issues.
Florida's Coaching Staff Is Second to None
Whether its the man in charge (Muschamp), offensive coordinator Brent Pease, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn or maniacally motivating strength and conditioning coach Jeff Dillman, Florida has the most complete, experienced and intelligent coaching staff in the nation.
From the top down, the Gators have excellent leadership, with no one exemplifying the grit and toughness of this team more than Muschamp himself.
Florida's fiery second-year head coach always acts like he has a chip on his shoulder, and his no-nonsense approach has done wonders for a team that appeared in shambles after Urban Meyer departed.
After putting his program in place, hiring the right people and getting the players to buy into his program, it's never been more clear about who Florida football is.
While Muschamp has been fantastic, the play on both sides of the ball has improved tremendously due to the efforts of Pease and Quinn.
Pease, who gained notoriety as one of college football's most innovative play-callers at Boise State, has managed to take a group of underwhelming skill players and a raw quarterback and turn it into a halfway decent offense.
The stern coach turned Mike Gillislee into a 1,000-yard rusher and has been instrumental in transforming Jeff Driskel into a future star.
On the other side of the ball, Quinn has only gotten better in his second year with the Gators.
Thanks to his extensive NFL experience, Quinn brings a wealth of knowledge about schemes and techniques, and he's managed to get great performances out of former inconsistent players like Josh Evans and Omar Hunter.
His defense ranks third in the country, allowing just 12.9 points per game.
Throw in Dillman—whose Olympic-style training regimen has resurrected the health of guys like James Wilson—and there's no doubt Florida's coaching staff is the most complete in the country.
Every man plays his role, and with such extensive experience and the ability to motivate and get through to their players, the Gators' coaching staff would put the team over the top in a matchup against Notre Dame.
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