On Sunday night's BCS Countdown show, ESPN analysts David Pollack, Jesse Palmer and Kirk Herbstreit all agreed that Florida has a legitimate case for being ranked No. 2 in the BCS Standings and getting a chance to play for a national title.
-Florida played the nation's toughest schedule, and its only loss came to No. 3 Georgia in a game that featured six Gators' turnovers. In UF's 11 wins, it turned the ball over a total of six times.
-The No. 4 Gators have beaten four teams ranked in the top 13 of the standings. The three teams ahead of them combined have a record of 4-2 against the top 13.
-Alabama lost to Texas A&M at home. Florida beat Texas A&M on the road, holding Johnny Manziel in check in the second half like no other defense has this season. Manziel torched the Tide late.
-Georgia lost to South Carolina by 28 points. Florida beat South Carolina by 33 points.
Following Saturday's win against Florida State, Florida coach Will Muschamp was uncharacteristically emphatic when stating Florida's case.
"I think it was a really sexy win," he said. "Guys, our résumé speaks for itself, come on. You’ve seen where we’ve played, who we’ve played and the quality of football teams we’ve beaten. We’ll play anyone anywhere -- whatever that slogan is."
"I’d play anybody in the country (in the national championship game). You play in our league and it’s gonna give you confidence."And the only thing preventing such a chance, apart from the loss to Georgia? Lackluster offensive showings in the final weeks of the season, Pollack said. Pollack theorized that the campaigning Muschamp did following the win against the Seminoles would have been better received had Florida blown out teams down the stretch.
But UF needed a punt block in the final seconds to beat Louisiana-Lafayette, and the team didn't perform much better in a 14-7 win against Missouri and a 23-0 win against FCS opponent Jacksonville State. Largely because of these showings, Florida's rankings in two important polls continues to suffer even after defeating previously No. 10 Florida State on Saturday.
The Gators are No. 2 in five of the six computer rankings, but at No. 5 Florida is behind Oregon, Georgia, Alabama and Notre Dame in both the Harris and the USA Today Coaches Poll, which comprise two-thirds of the BCS formula.
Muschamp admitted watching his team struggle in those games was not what he had in mind.
"Believe me, I was glad we won them," he said. "I wish our guys would get out of this mantra of playing to our competition. It frustrates me."
Said Herbstreit: "If they're guilty of anything it's playing up or down to the level of their competition."
But Muschamp has also time and again denied that one win means more than any other and that "style points" don't matter. Asked last week how long he has thought about criticism of the Gators' unimpressive wins, Muschamp said: "Well, those three seconds I just thought about it, that’s probably the most time I’ve spent thinking about it."
All that said, it will be interesting to hear Muschamp's take on the theory that "style points" could be keeping Florida out of the fight for the crystal. His final press conference of the regular season is Monday morning at 11:45. I'll have live updates on Twitter if you want to follow along.