Defending National Champion Florida Gators received 58 of 60 first place votes in Saturday's Associated Press Preseason Rankings, the highest total of first place votes in the poll's 59-year history. The two remaining first place votes went to the Texas Longhorns.
But do the Gators deserve to be ranked so much higher than everyone else? The answer is yes, for many reasons.
The Gators have one of the best coaches in college football in Urban Meyer. Meyer is an impressive 44-9 with two national championships in his 5 years at Florida, and previously went 22-2, including an undefeated season with a BCS bowl win, at Utah. He's also produced a top recruiting class since his arrival in the Swamp.
Not only are the Gators in great shape with Meyer running the show, but they also have the golden boy—and arguably greatest college football player ever—in Tim Tebow.
Tebow is the first sophomore to ever win the Heisman and only player to rush for 20 TDs while throwing for 20 TDs in a single season. Tebow also finished third in the Heisman voting last season, despite receiving the most first place votes after a season where he accounted for 30 passing touchdowns and 12 rushing.
There is some bad news, but it’s for the rest of the nation, because the Gators will be returning all 11 starters on defense, including monsters Carlos Dunlap and Brandon Spikes.
The Gator defense may be even better this season, which is a scary thought considering they held opponents to 285 ypg last year. Florida also has one of the best corners in all of football in Joe Haden, and strong safety Ahmad Black was second-team All-SEC last season.
Can the Gators improve on last year’s 13-1 championship season? The terrifying answer is yes, they can.
Tim Tebow is entering his fourth year, and while the loss of Percy Harvin may hurt, the combination of Emmanuel Moody, Jeffrey Demps, and Chris Rainey ran for a combined 1674 yards and 7.6 ypc last season.
With a healthy Moody, the Gator rushing attack is a strength again this season.
Florida lost a close game to Ole Miss last season, 31-30, but in their 13 wins, the next closest margins of victory were 10, 11, and 23—including the national championship.
The Gators will only play three SEC games at home in the Swamp this season, but they are the favorite to win the SEC and potentially go undefeated.
If I were a betting man, I’d throw my money on the Gators to repeat because there hasn’t been a defending National Championship with this much talent, potential, and firepower in a long time.