Gators smash UGA, lift monkey off Muschamp’s back

Published on Sunday, 11/2/14, at 4:08 p.m. Eastern. 

Whether or not Florida head coach Will Muschamp saved his job Saturday in Jacksonville remains to be seen. Whether or not he’s a helluva football coach is not up  for debate, however.

Will Muschamp's Gators were due some good fortune, and it came in the form of a fake field goal that ignited his team to a blowout win over Georgia.

Will Muschamp’s Gators were due some good fortune, and it came in the form of a fake field goal that ignited his team to a blowout win over Georgia.

With an almost certain pink slip coming his way by lunch on Monday in the event of a fourth consecutive loss to Georgia, Muschamp’s Gators played their best game since going into Tallahassee in November of 2012 and spanking FSU by a 37-26 count. In short, they destroyed Georgia 38-20 as an 11-point underdog, hooking up money-line backers with a return in the +375 range (risk $100 to win $375).

In doing so, UF ended UGA’s hopes of making it to the College Football Playoff and might have paved a way for (wait for it…) the Gators to get to the Ga. Dome in Atlanta for the first time since 2009. That’s right, there’s a script for this possibility.

If Georgia wins the rest of its SEC games, with the exception of a Nov. 15 home tilt vs. Auburn, it would finish SEC play with three losses. If UF wins out in SEC play, it would also finish with three losses. If Missouri loses two of its three remaining SEC contests and one of those defeats comes against East counterpart Tennessee in Knoxville, then the Tigers would join the Bulldogs and Gators with three SEC setbacks.

The first tiebreaker is head-to-head play, but that’s a wash since UGA beat Mizzou, Mizzou beat UF and the Gators dealt out an open-hand pimpslap to Mark Richt’s squad. Next, we go to division records and if it plays out like I noted in the above paragraph, the Florida Gators would be the 2014 SEC East champs based on just one loss against division foes. UGA and Mizzou would have two SEC East defeats.

Now that’s a lot of pieces falling into place, to be sure, but the point is that Muschamp’s job can be saved. This space — and countless others — ruled out that possibility two weeks ago, albeit in a regretful fashion.

With the way it looked Saturday against a hot UGA squad, UF is going to be favored in games at Vandy and vs. South Carolina to close out its SEC slate. The Gators still don’t throw it well, but they didn’t need to when facing UGA and its 13th-ranked rush defense going into Week 10.

Kelvin Taylor and Matt Jones both had 25 carries apiece and nearly produced 400 yards with those totes. It was the first time in UF history that a pair of running backs both rushed for more than 120 yards.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

–Florida safety Keanu Neal suffered a high-ankle sprain against Georgia, so his status for Vandy is up in the air. We’ll know more by Monday or Tuesday, but I would expect him to miss 2-3 weeks. Otherwise, the Gators got out of Jax without any significant injuries.

–What a backbreaking defeat for Ole Miss. A potential go-ahead TD with less than two minutes remaining gets taken off the board. And then star WR Laquon Treadwell gets taken off the field with a major injury. Hugh Freeze had the perfect play call dialed up on third down with Auburn blitzing, but Treadwell lost control of the ball just inches shy of the end zone, and only because of the pain of the injury did he lose the ball.

–Speaking of gut-wrenching losses, how in the hell did South Carolina blow a pair of 14-point leads in the fourth quarter against Tennessee? Give the Vols credit for hanging in there and pulling out an improbable victory in  overtime. With three seemingly easy games remaining — at least compared to the schedule it has already faced — UT looks like a safe bet to go bowling for the first time since 2010.

–As I got into the car with three old-school buddies late Saturday morning for a two-hour drive from Atlanta to Greenville, S.C, for a surprise b-day party, four SEC schools were represented. Val’s Crimson Tide was off Saturday, so that left a Gator, a Razorback and a Vol in the vehicle. I said, “Well, maybe one of us will pull an upset today.” Turns out, all three of us were nearly winners as generous underdogs. Arkansas gave top-ranked Mississippi St. fits (and covered the spread), while UF and UT emerged victorious. Poor Jessica!

–My dreadful 2014 campaign continued Saturday, as I went an abysmal 2-5 ATS. I cashed easy winners with the UT-USC ‘over’ (56), as they combined for 87 points. And Oregon was a no-doubt casher in its dominant victory over Stanford. South Carolina and Arizona were bad beats (Arizona’s place-kicker sucks!!!), while Mississippi St. was a bad pick and UNC was an atrocious pick. I stop short of calling Ole Miss a bad beat, but it sure as hell was a heartbreaker. So what looked like at least a 5-2 day, and possibly 6-1 if Mississippi St. could’ve scored a TD on a drive that got to midfield with about five minutes left, turned into yet another miserable Saturday. That’s gambling.

–Speaking of Miami’s easy win over the Tar Heels, FSU’s trip to South Florida to face the Hurricanes  is starting to look daunting.

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