Monday, June 18, 2018
Colleges

Florida Gators No. 2, behind Alabama Crimson Tide, in first BCS poll

GAINESVILLE — Seven weeks ago, Florida opened the season with a lackluster performance in a win over Bowling Green and still was undecided on a starting quarterback. It didn't appear a banner season was on the horizon.

Sunday night, the undefeated Gators landed in the No. 2 spot in the first Bowl Championship Series standings. Florida is among four SEC teams in the Top 10. Top-seeded and defending national champion Alabama is No. 1, LSU is No. 6, and South Carolina is No. 7.

Florida's ranking surprised many. The Gators are No. 3 in the polls that help form the standings but No. 1 in the computer rankings, which gave them a slight edge over Oregon (No. 3) and Kansas State (No. 4).

Florida hosts South Carolina on Saturday afternoon in a pivotal SEC East game, then plays Georgia on Oct. 27 at Jacksonville. The Gators finish the regular season at Florida State, ranked 14th in the BCS standings, and have a potential matchup with Alabama in the SEC title game.

The Gators understand the road gets tougher, and how they handle the spotlight will be a key to how they finish the season, coach Will Muschamp said.

"You're to that point of the season where some of my stuff falls on deaf ears, so your players have to run the locker room," Muschamp said. "And that's where we're a different organization as opposed to a year ago. I feel very comfortable about how our locker room is going to be handled right now. I didn't feel that way last year. So I think the further you go on, the further the message is delivered and you start to understand what it's going to take to be successful.

"And I'm not just talking about the seniors. I'm talking about the junior class. There's a bunch of ballplayers in that class, and they understand what it takes to be successful."

Oregon State is the lowest-rated unbeaten team in the standings, at No. 8. One-loss teams South Carolina, No. 6 LSU, No. 9 Oklahoma and No. 10 Southern Cal can contend for a spot in the BCS title game if they win out. If Alabama wins out, the Tide will play for a second straight national title.

Oregon could close the gap if it keeps winning against strong opponents. The Ducks play Arizona State on Thursday and later face Southern California and Oregon State. The Pac-12 title game also is a strong possibility.

This is the first time Alabama has been first in the initial standings and the 11th consecutive week an SEC team is No. 1, one shy of the longest streak in BCS history. It is the 32nd time an SEC team is No. 1 in the BCS, the most from any conference.

Seven times since the BCS was implemented in 1998, the team that was first in the initial standings has played in the title game. Seven times the team that started second played for the title. Only twice has neither team in the top two spots in the first standings reached the title game.

Antonya English can be reached at [email protected] Here blog is at tampabay.com/blogs/gators. Follow her on Twitter at @TBTimes_Gators.

Comments
As USF-Yuengling bond grows, is SEC’s alcohol stance slowly shifting?

As USF-Yuengling bond grows, is SEC’s alcohol stance slowly shifting?

USF's expanded partnership with Yuengling — including naming rights to the Sun Dome — is only the latest part in an evolving relationship between college sports and alcohol, as my colleague, Joey Knight, wrote on the front page ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Florida’s Brady Singer voted top college baseball player of year

Florida’s Brady Singer voted top college baseball player of year

OMAHA, Neb. — Florida pitcher Brady Singer has won the Dick Howser Trophy as college baseball's player of the year.Singer, who received the award Friday, carries a 12-1 record and 2.30 ERA into the College World Series, which begins Saturday. T...
Published: 06/15/18
Former Plant QB Rex Culpepper cancer-free; ready to return to Syracuse lineup

Former Plant QB Rex Culpepper cancer-free; ready to return to Syracuse lineup

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Rex Culpepper is back. The smile on his face said it all. The redshirt sophomore quarterback had his first full workout with Syracuse on Friday after overcoming testicular cancer. He said he broke down and cried when he was told he w...
Published: 06/15/18
Willie Taggart comes clean on the origin of ‘Do Something’

Willie Taggart comes clean on the origin of ‘Do Something’

During his question-and-answer session with more than 500 Manatee-Sarasota boosters Monday evening, FSU's Willie Taggart was peppered with the normal inquiries about recruiting, offensive scheme and the Seminoles' quarterback derby.All well and good....
Published: 06/12/18
When Willie Taggart filled in for Tommie Frazier at Manatee High

When Willie Taggart filled in for Tommie Frazier at Manatee High

It would have been easy — expected, even — for Willie Taggart to be nervous when he started in place of the injured Tommie Frazier as Manatee High's starting quarterback in 1991.Nope. Taggart wasn't, even though he was the first...
Published: 06/12/18
FSU football coach Willie Taggart gets local hero’s welcome

FSU football coach Willie Taggart gets local hero’s welcome

SARASOTA — He slithered and scrambled his way into the local consciousness in the fall of 1991.Manatee High's Willie Taggart, 145 pounds in a sopping jersey, suddenly found himself with the keys to the Hurricanes' ruthlessly efficient opti...
Published: 06/11/18
Updated: 06/12/18
Florida Gators add West Virginia grad transfer Adam Shuler

Florida Gators add West Virginia grad transfer Adam Shuler

Former West Virginia defensive lineman Adam Shuler announced Monday that he plans to join the Gators as a graduate transfer.Shuler, a 6-foot-4, 268-pound Longwood native, started 10 games for the Mountaineers last season. As a redshirt sophomore, he ...
Published: 06/11/18
Florida State’s Jessica Warren lives ‘every senior’s dream’ with Women’s College World Series title

Florida State’s Jessica Warren lives ‘every senior’s dream’ with Women’s College World Series title

OKLAHOMA CITY — Jessie Warren’s career finished just the way she envisioned it. On Monday night, Florida State’s star third baseman made perhaps the play of her career, a diving catch and throw for a double play that helped preserve a 1-0 win over Wa...
Published: 06/06/18
Florida Gators hire former Auburn AD Jay Jacobs

Florida Gators hire former Auburn AD Jay Jacobs

Former Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs is joining Florida as its executive associate athletic director, the Gators announced Tuesday afternoon."Florida Athletics is fortunate to have someone of Jay's caliber joining the (University Athletic Assoc...
Published: 06/05/18
What Mississippi State says about Dan Mullen’s September homecoming

What Mississippi State says about Dan Mullen’s September homecoming

I haven't yet ranked every college football game in the state (as I did last year), but here's a spoiler: Dan Mullen's return to Starkville on Sept. 29 will be very high.The Florida Gators' new coach hasn't shied away from his Mississippi State homec...
Published: 06/05/18