The talk throughout the SEC East this offseason has been a sort of coronation of Tennessee.
The Volunteers are the team of destiny to get over the top finally and reach the SEC Championship Game, break the streak against their hated rivals and become players on the national championship picture. It all seems pre-ordained.
Florida has been a bit salty about it. The Gators after all have won 12 straight games against the Volunteers. They know who runs the conference.
And the Gators are extremely talented. They are the defending SEC East champions. With plenty of questions, sure, but also the expectations of champions. And no one is talking about them.
Beware the Gators.
In his weekly list for college football this offseason, Tom Fornelli of CBS Sports named Florida one of his sleeper teams in college football. And they are not only a team capable of winning the SEC East, but also winning the conference outright.
“Well, even if we don’t know who Florida’s QB will be in 2016 — my money is on Luke Del Rio — Jim McElwain has had plenty of success with his QBs in his coaching career,” Fornelli writes. “Then there’s Florida defense, which is really good. It was good last season until the end of the year when it just gave out after having to support a team with absolutely no offense. Seriously, the loss of Will Grier completely derailed Florida’s season, even if it wasn’t immediately obvious.”
The Gators offense was derailed when Grier went out. Florida trounced Ole Miss in Gainesville before the Grier suspension. This was a team threatening the top of the SEC. And obviously had enough to win the SEC East even after that loss.
Indeed, no one is talking about Florida right now. The conference has pretty much been handed to Tennessee by overwhelming margins.
That narrative will change if Florida tops Tennessee on Sept. 24 in Knoxville. Then no one will be sleeping on the Gators anymore.