Chaos Around the Country Makes Style Points Critical for Florida's Playoff Push

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterNovember 22, 2015

Florida head coach Jim McElwain
Florida head coach Jim McElwainRob Foldy/Getty Images

Florida survived a scare on Saturday afternoon in "The Swamp," and not the ironic and humorous kind like in the Scary Movie films.

The Gators survived a 20-14 overtime scare from two-win Florida Atlantic and looked lost in the process. They managed just 253 total yards against the seventh-best defense in Conference USA, quarterback Treon Harris completed just eight of his 17 passes and allowed five sacks to a defense that hadn't managed a single one over its previous two games.

Florida head coach Jim McElwain
Florida head coach Jim McElwainJeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

The team's lack of energy was concerning to first-year head coach Jim McElwain.

"When something bad happens they mope around,'' he said, according to Scott Carter of GatorZone.com. "Here's the visual: when you guys go to the seafood market, or go to the grocery store, and you see all those dead fish on ice, that's the energy they are playing with right now.

"How excited are you to hang out with that dead fish?"

That's concerning because, at least on paper, Florida still has a shot at the College Football Playoff. That might put the Gators in the back of a one-loss field of contenders that added Ohio State, Oklahoma State and Houston to the mix on Saturday.

The lack of style points in the last "cupcake game" of the season for the Gators, though, couldn't have come at a worse time.

The offensive line is still a mess, Harris still isn't a threat in the passing game and the running game isn't getting any help from the offense—one that had to hit the reset button midway through the season when redshirt freshman starting quarterback Will Grier was suspended for a year for violating the NCAA's policy on performance enhancing drugs.

Florida QB Treon Harris
Florida QB Treon HarrisRob Foldy/Getty Images

Now they're going into the intrastate showdown with Florida State and the SEC Championship Game (likely against Alabama) with an offensive identity crisis.

"We don't need dead fish,'' running back Kelvin Taylor said, per Carter. "We need energy. We've just got some guys on this team that just refuse to take off the governor."

Let's just assume for a second that Florida does win out. It not only needs to win out, but it needs to look really good in the process if it's going to sneak into the playoff picture.

If Clemson wins out, it's safe to assume the Tigers are in. It's also a near-certainty that a one-loss Big Ten champion would likely get the nod, save for Iowa if it loses at Nebraska on Black Friday and then wins the Big Ten Championship Game.

A one-loss Big 12 champion will be nearly impossible for the committee to leave out, especially if that one-loss champion is an Oklahoma team that will have topped Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State over the final three weeks.

Florida RB Kelvin Taylor
Florida RB Kelvin TaylorJeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

One-loss Notre Dame or one-loss Florida?

That could become the debate, and what the Fighting Irish have done through a litany of injuries might be too difficult to overlook. Plus, Notre Dame's loss—a two-point loss at Clemson in a quagmire—looks much better than Florida's lone setback on the road to an average LSU team.

Florida not only needs to win out, but it needs to look really impressive on offense.

Is this team capable of that?

"Florida 1.0" was when Grier was at the helm, but "Florida 2.0" looks like this year's version of the 2012 Gators. A team that needed a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown late against Louisiana-Lafayette in November to win 27-20. A team that was exposed in the Sugar Bowl by a Louisville squad led by star quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

In years past, when the SEC received the benefit of the doubt, it might not be a debate. After two straight seasons without a major bowl win and an SEC East that looks like a joke, I'm not sure Florida will get that benefit of the doubt. 

The dominoes have relegated Florida to at or near the back of the one-loss pecking order, and it needs a miracle to win out.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Statistics are courtesy of cfbstats.com.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and national college football video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on SiriusXM 83. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

Related

    Dooley: Veteran Florida players leading way

    Florida Gators Football logo
    Florida Gators Football

    Dooley: Veteran Florida players leading way

    Pat Dooley
    via GatorSports.com

    Georgia 5-Star Freshman DB Arrested on Disorderly Conduct

    College Football logo
    College Football

    Georgia 5-Star Freshman DB Arrested on Disorderly Conduct

    Joseph Zucker
    via Bleacher Report

    Live Updates: The Opening Regional - Atlanta

    Florida Gators Football logo
    Florida Gators Football

    Live Updates: The Opening Regional - Atlanta

    Swamp247
    via Swamp247

    QB Anthony Richardson Names Leader

    Florida Gators Football logo
    Florida Gators Football

    QB Anthony Richardson Names Leader

    Swamp247
    via Swamp247