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      Smack Zone — Gators

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      The Gators are BACK! (Aren't they? They're back now, right?)

      [caption id="attachment_1230" align="aligncenter" width="474"]A 38-10 romp in the Swamp against Ole Miss means the Gators are back, baby. At least until Saturday. Lose at Mizzou and it'll be like Muschamp 2.0. Just. Like. That. Illustration: Steve Hill for Smack Zone. A 38-10 romp in the Swamp against Ole Miss means the Gators are back, baby. At least until Saturday. Lose at Mizzou and it'll be like Muschamp 2.0. Just. Like. That. Illustration: Steve Hill for Smack Zone.[/caption] The Gators are back. Aren’t they? It sure looks like it. A 38-10 shocker against Ole Miss at the Swamp on Saturday rocked the college football world. Coach Jim McIlwain, seemingly, can do no wrong. After a comeback victory against Tennessee vaulted the Gators back into the AP top 25, the follow-up romp against the No. 3-ranked vanquishers of the Crimson Tide jetted UF nearly into the top 10. They are close enough, at No. 11, to once again sniff a conference and national championship. Oh, and it’s a nice bonus for those who bleed orange and blue that the Gators tip-toed past undefeated Florida State in the rankings. They seem to have found a coach, a quarterback (redshirt freshman Will Grier) and an identity. Sure, they are ranked only 58th in total offense (a troubling 90th in rushing) and 37th in total defense, but they are ranked at the top of the SEC East at 3-0 in the conference and roll into this week’s road game against Missouri ready to consolidate their early gains. So, yes. At 5-0, the Gators appear to be back. Where do they go from here? First, they must avoid a road upset against Mizzou and true freshman quarterback Drew Lock. There are no guarantees, of course, and this could all come crashing down with a loss in Columbia. But … Get past that one, and things get real interesting. It starts with a huge matchup on Oct. 17 at LSU, which is currently the only remaining UF opponent that is ranked higher than the Gators. While a victory in Baton Rouge would be enormous, a loss would not necessarily end Florida’s title aspirations. That’s because the schedule falls favorably for Florida. After seeing them stuff Ole Miss Saturday, it’s completely realistic to envision Florida rolling against Georgia, Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Florida Atlantic. Then there’s Florida State, which comes into Gainesville on Nov. 28 having won two in a row and four of five against UF. Even if they lose to LSU, the Gators could win out in the regular season and set themselves up for an SEC championship game matchup against the winner of the SEC West – Texas A&M, Alabama, LSU or Ole Miss. At that point, a victory would leave the Gators at 12-1 (assuming a loss at LSU and a victory against the Seminoles, remember), and it would almost certainly be enough to gain entry into the national championship playoff. Yes, it’s early. Yes, the Gators haven’t displayed the consistent and convincing dominance of the national championship teams under Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer – yet. But in Gainesville, they are ready to party again. (By the way, we're not affiliated with Scooter Magruder in any way, but he rocks it on YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and just about anywhere else you can post videos about sports and stuff. Follow him -- especially if you love the Gators and anything and everything Southeastern Conference. Scooter's entire Snap cast of his night in the Swamp's nosebleed seats is well worth watching, but here's a quick glimpse.)


      It's Great ... To Be ... a Flor-i-da Gator Again

      [caption id="attachment_1140" align="alignright" width="474"]Jim McElwain The Jim McElwain Era at Florida is off to an auspicious start. The Gators are back in the AP top 25 for the first time since 2013, and are poised for a game with Ole Miss that has national title implications. Seems like old times ...[/caption]   By Erez Ladetzky, SMACK ZONE contributor After Florida’s wild, last-minute victory against Tennessee Saturday at the Swamp, the Gators have re-entered the AP poll as the No. 25 team for the first time since 2013. Making room for the Gators, Oregon dropped out of the AP for the first time since 2009 after getting whooped at home by Utah. The days of Tim Tebow leading the Gators to double-digit wins are over. Outside of All-America defensive back Vernon Hargreaves III, there are not too many potential first-round NFL picks on this Gators team. This team probably won’t win the national championship any time soon, but returning to relevance is the next step. That step was taken with a crazy victory over the Vols on Saturday. Tennessee did the most Tennessee thing possible, blew ANOTHER double-digit lead to lose a heartbreaking game. This time, the Vols had a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter and STILL managed to lose this game. Florida was set up with fourth and 13 with just under two minutes to go and down by 6. Not only did the Gators convert, they scored a TD on that play to take a 1 point lead. Vols coach Butch Jones is feeling the heat on his seat right about now. Tennessee drove the field to set themselves up for a last second field goal, and came inches away from ending UF’s dominance over them. Jones did a little, very brief, wishful thinking celebration when he thought the field goal was good. That was just kind of sad, actually. Florida heads into October undefeated, and facing a brutal schedule. Who thought Ole Miss-UF would have national championship implications? We sure didn’t. But next Saturday, Florida hosts Ole Miss in a battle of ranked, undefeated SEC teams. Ole Miss goes to Gainesville as the No. 3 team in the nation, and has playoffs on its mind. The Gators can make a huge statement with a victory Saturday. Not only will it help them gain confidence heading into the meat of their conference schedule, but it would be a story book start to the Jim McElwain era. Not too many people counted on Florida to play meaningful games in October this year, but that is what they will do. Another bonus for Florida: FSU dropped a spot in the AP poll to No. 11 after not playing last weekend. Not a bad day to be a Florida Gator. But just as a friendly reminder to the Gators that things can go South quickly in this game, here's a Vine clip of receiver C.J. Worton taking one off the gourd during Saturday's game: