Florida football: Where things stand as the Gators return

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Welcome back, Florida football fans! While Gators team activity has been at a standstill the past two weeks due to a COVID-19 outbreak, the college football season moved on without them. Here’s a quick rundown of where things stand for Florida before its return to the field this weekend.

The Big Ten returned this past week, leaving the Pac-12 as the last remaining Power 5 conference to kick off. Most notable for College Football Playoff considerations was Ohio State‘s 52-17 throttling of Nebraska.

The Buckeyes’ return was the third titanic puzzle piece of college footballs upper echelon, joining Alabama and Clemson. As expected, these three teams are almost considered a lock for the Playoff, barring multiple titanic upsets. As we have seen this year already, upsets have been a steady feature of every Saturday so far. Will the disease bite one of the teams this far up the pecking order? These three are the class of the nation, but it’s not impossible.

The rest of the Big Ten schedule included a few notable games, with previously No. 8 ranked Penn State falling to Indiana in overtime and No. 18 Michigan shutting down 21st ranked Minnesota. No. 14 Wisconsin easily disposed of Illinois. Following its first week of play, the Big Ten features five ranked squads: Ohio State moved up to No. 3, Wisconsin to No. 9, and Michigan to No. 13, Indiana debuts at No. 17, while Penn State dropped to No. 18.

How does the return of the Big Ten impact Florida? A playoff candidate in Penn State dropped its first game, while a shoe-in in Ohio State and another prospective contender in Wisconsin acquitted themselves well. With Florida still sitting at 2-1 after the Texas A&M loss, it ranks at No. 10 on the AP poll, behind only Wisconsin and Ohio State in the Big Ten. This bodes well for Florida, whose Playoff hopes are still alive thanks to nearly every other national contender outside of the top three suffering upsets of their own.

Elsewhere in the FBS, Georgia‘s loss to Alabama was the other significant result while Florida was sidelined. The Bulldogs’ loss leaves them at 3-1 after they had a postponement of their own for their game against Kentucky. This means barring another upset of either team, the winner of the Nov. 7 Florida vs. Georgia tilt will be in the driver’s seat of the SEC East. Therefore, despite the Texas A&M loss, Florida still controls its own destiny in the SEC and possibly even the playoff.

What comes next? Florida football retakes the field this Saturday against Missouri at 7:30 ET. The following week comes the game of the season Georgia tilt. The LSU game, the original postponement, will be played Dec. 12.

Florida’s offense has been championship caliber this season with little cause for concern. The opposite holds true for the other side of the ball. Will a two-week break revitalize the defense without hampering the offense? This will be the storyline to monitor Saturday and next week against Georgia. The Gators still control their own destiny, but the margin for error has run out.

Photo courtesy of FloridaGators.com

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