Is Florida in Danger of Missing Out on Bowl Season?

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterNovember 4, 2013

Florida head coach Will Muschamp
Florida head coach Will MuschampSam Greenwood/Getty Images

Remember when the Florida Gators were ranked in the Top 10 and considered a threat to win the BCS National Championship?

That seems like ages ago.

The Gators fell 23-20 to the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday afternoon in Jacksonville to drop to 4-4 and continue their three-game losing streak.

Florida head coach Will Muschamp
Florida head coach Will MuschampSam Greenwood/Getty Images

But it could get worse. Much worse.

The Gators have games versus Vanderbilt, at South Carolina, versus Georgia Southern and versus Florida State left on the 2013 schedule. While Florida enters this weekend's game against the Commodores as the 10.5-point favorite in the VegasInsider.com consensus, the idea of Florida winning by 10 or more points is a difficult concept to grasp.

Georgia Southern is the only surefire win on the schedule, which makes a 5-7 record a legit possibility for head coach Will Muschamp. That would most certainly crank up the temperature on his seat, as Thomas Goldkamp of 247Sports.com notes.

100% back if he goes 6-6. Less certain if 5-7, far less if 4-8. RT @Willy_B22: @Goldkamp247 Realistically, is Muschamp even on the hot seat?

— Thomas Goldkamp (@Goldkamp247) November 3, 2013

Vanderbilt is no slouch. It has one of the top receivers in college football in Jordan Matthews, who can certainly change the game and put pressure on the Gators if the talented Gator secondary suffers a breakdown. 

A silver lining for Florida is that freshman Patton Robinette plans to start, with injured starter Austyn Carta-Samuels serving as his backup, according to Jeff Lockridge of The TennesseanEven though Florida's defense hasn't been great—they've given up more than 400 yards in two straight—Robinette has his work cut out for him against this Gator defense.

Florida DE Dante Fowler Jr.
Florida DE Dante Fowler Jr.Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

The 'Dores have given up a conference-worst 26 sacks on the season, and Florida still has monsters in the front seven, including "Buck" Dante Fowler Jr., to take up some real estate in the backfield. It's not hard to imagine a scenario in which Florida's defense takes over.

Florida QB Tyler Murphy
Florida QB Tyler MurphySam Greenwood/Getty Images

But the Gators still have to score, which will be a challenge for the worst offense in the SEC (334.6 YPG).

They aren't taking the 'Dores lightly.

"We definitely want to win out and make it to a bowl game,'' quarterback Tyler Murphy said, according to Scott Carter of GatorZone.com. "Just keep fighting and get better. Vandy is a good team. They beat Georgia. Maybe we can try and do some things to shake things up in the [SEC] East even more."

An admirable goal, no doubt. But if the Gators lose to Vanderbilt this week, the wheels will come flying off. 

South Carolina is kicking up its feet, knowing it has to beat the Gators in Columbia next week to keep pace in the SEC East, and Florida State certainly looks worthy of that No. 2 ranking in the most recent BCS Standings.

Saturday's game versus Vanderbilt is as must-win as it gets. 

While a lower-tier bowl may not do much to inspire Gator Nation, this team needs the bowl practices to go along with a bowl game—especially if there's either a shakeup in the coaching staff or a philosophy change on offense. 

A loss to Vanderbilt would all but eliminate that possibility. 


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