More on Florida Gators' resurgence: The SEC East isn't that good
In today's Tampa Bay Times, I explored why Florida went from mediocre to SEC East champions in only one season. Time and space limited that piece to only five main reasons, and there are two other big things I left out. I touched on the coaching change, but that's a story for another day.
So let's look at the other reason: The SEC East isn't very good.
Georgia and Tennessee are the only other two teams in the division with winning records. They're also the only other team ranked in the top 60 in the Sagarin Ratings. Dive into the East, and the Gators have a lot more in common with the division's three biggest disappointments than you might think.
Georgia: The Bulldogs started 4-0 and looked strong before two problems popped up: Quarterback woes and attrition (the season-ending injury to RB Nick Chubb). UF has dealt with similar issues. The quarterback play has been better, but not great. Given the Bulldogs' depth at running back, was Georgia losing Chubb that much worse than UF losing QB Will Grier?
Tennessee: The Vols' four losses were all by seven points or less, including late collapses against Oklahoma and UF. Tennessee is 2-4 in one-score games this year. The Gators have been in similar situations. They've just found ways to win those games, going 4-1 in one-score contests. That included capitalizing on fourth down to beat the Vols and making enough stops to hold on against East Carolina.
Missouri: Great defense, awful offense. While Mizzou obviously has more important things to worry about than football, the Tigers have scored one (1) touchdown in their last four games. Mizzou is last in the SEC in scoring offense (14.7 points per game) and tied for first in scoring defense (14.6 points per game). The Gators are similarly led by their defense (tied for first in the league), but their average offense has scored almost twice as many points as the Tigers.
Here's my point: The division isn't strong, but the same issues that have plagued the three preseason favorites have also affected UF, at least to some degree. The Gators have found ways to get past them. Does that mean UF is back (whatever that means)? I think it's still too early to say that. But for Gators fans, this sure beats the alternative.