With Thanksgiving Day and the end of the college football season approaching, Urban Meyer and the Florida Gators are in a very different place from years past.
Instead of looking forward to playing in the SEC Championship Game and contending for a BCS National Championship, the 7-4 Gators are auditioning for the likes of the Chick-fil-A Bowl and the Gator Bowl.
However, despite a disappointing season that has seen three consecutive losses in "The Swamp" and the Florida offense hit rock bottom, there's a lot for the Gator Nation to be thankful for this Turkey Day.
With their 48-10 victory over the Appalachian State Mountaineers on Senior Day in "The Swamp" last Saturday, the Florida Gators assured themselves of another winning season.
Granted, no one expected the seventh victory to come in the penultimate game of the regular season, but with the way the year has gone, the Florida faithful will take it.
Additionally, the Gators kept an impressive streak alive with last week's win by remaining the only SEC team to have a winning season every year since the creation of the SEC Championship Game in 1992.
So, while their current record is far from glamorous, Florida continues to consistently play at a high level and win games in the nation's toughest conference year in and year out.
During his time in Gainesville, Urban Meyer's top priority each season has been to win the SEC East and advance to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game.
However, No. 2 on that list is to sweep the Florida Gators' three top rivals: the Tennessee Volunteers, the Georgia Bulldogs, and the Florida State Seminoles.
So far, so good for the Orange and Blue.
A 31-17 victory against the Vols in Knoxville to open the SEC schedule, coupled with a thrilling 34-31 overtime victory over the 'Dawgs in Jacksonville has set up Meyer to improve his record against Florida's top three rivals to 17-1.
It'll be tough for the Gators to defeat the 'Noles on the road at Doak Campbell Stadium Saturday, but you know that Meyer will have Florida fired up and ready to play.
There's no denying that one of the major problems that has plagued the Florida Gators' offense is the inability of quarterback John Brantley to effectively run the spread offense.
That's the reason why Urban Meyer decided to resort to the three-quarterback system, throwing freshmen Trey Burton and Jordan Reed into the backfield to mix it up for opposing defenses.
And by far, the most effective of the three is Reed, a big athlete (6'4" 240 lbs.) who can make big plays with both his arm and his feet.
While No. 11 will likely never become the starting signal-caller for Florida, each snap he takes gives the offense hope and allows the Gator Nation to daydream about what could accomplish with a proper dual-threat quarterback.
2010 has been the worst season of Urban Meyer's head coaching career and the fact that the Florida Gators are 7-4 and have a chance for nine wins this year is a testament to his coaching ability.
So, even at his worst, Meyer is still capable of winning a few games and earning a respectable bowl berth.
That's why the Gator Nation shouldn't worry too much about Florida's woes continuing into next season.
Granted, Steve Addazio will be back as the offensive coordinator and John Brantley will likely start at quarterback in 2011, which should spell trouble for the Gators' offense.
However, if the same problems persist next fall, Meyer's commitment to winning will force him to make the necessary changes to get Florida back to an elite level in college football.
To put it frankly, the Florida Gators have no business playing for any kind of championship during the 2010 season.
And to think that they actually had a chance to represent the SEC East in Atlanta until their 36-14 loss to the South Carolina Gamecocks two weeks ago is unbelievable.
While the Gators' resiliency in the divisional race was admirable, their contention was more of a testament to the weaknesses of the SEC East than to the strength of Urban Meyer's squad.
Missing out on a trip to the SEC Championship Game could actually be the best thing that could happen to this team.
Florida's players and coaches will realize that their current style isn't getting the job done and they'll come back more motivated, more prepared, and better-equipped to make a run at the SEC title in 2011.
What else should the Gators be thankful for this Thanksgiving? Share your thoughts in the comments section!
Read the original article on GatorRaid.com.