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      Smack Zone — Jim McElwain

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      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] Β  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:


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