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      Smack Zone — Steve Hill Cartoon

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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. Arenโ€™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 itโ€™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 weekโ€™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 โ€ฆ 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 Floridaโ€™s title aspirations. Thatโ€™s because the schedule falls favorably for Florida. After seeing them stuff Ole Miss Saturday, itโ€™s completely realistic to envision Florida rolling against Georgia, Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Florida Atlantic. Then thereโ€™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 โ€“ 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, itโ€™s early. Yes, the Gators havenโ€™t displayed the consistent and convincing dominance of the national championship teams under Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer โ€“ 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.)

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      Tom Brady's Revenge Tour Rolls On

      Tom Brady Revenge Tour Tom Brady joined Peyton Manning, Dan Marino and Bret Favre as the only QBs in NFL history with 400 or more TD passes. (Illustration: Steve Hill) Three games into what might have been a four-game suspension, were it not for a judge in New York, Tom Brady seems determined to make the league pay for the Deflategate fiasco. It's been eight years since Brady, at age 30, blasted through the NFL record book to become the first quarterback with 50 touchdown passes in a season. At age 38, coming off a spring and summer of court appearances and embarrassing -- and ultimately, still unproven -- accusations by Commissioner Roger Goodell, Brady is wrecking dudes. A 51-17 victory Sunday against the Jaguars was no surprise, actually. As long as tight end Rob Gronkowski is upright, and as long as Brady's right arm stays limber, New England will post big, big offensive numbers against lesser opponents like Jacksonville. What is mildly surprising is that Brady has not been merely good, or even very good. Or even great. He has been just about perfect. Through three games, he has nine touchdown passes, a 72.2 completion percentage and 1,112 passing yards. Oh, and ZERO interceptions. And by the way, even as he tears through yet another early season, he's smashing all-time milestones. How's 400 touchdown passes? Not bad, especially when you consider his elite company: Dan Marino, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning. Now, he and the Patriots take a little breather with an early bye week before heading out for back-to-back road games against the Romo-less Cowboys and scuffling Colts. Frankly, the game we're waiting for is Nov. 29, Pats at Broncos, Tom at Peyton. That looks to be the only potential loss on New England's schedule, except for one detail: Brady is 11-5 lifetime against Peyton. We're looking at history here, folks. The Tom Brady Revenge Tour rolls on, and there seems to be very little the league can do to stop it. ย  ย