Two years ago, Urban Meyer called for every Gators fan to come to the Swamp adorned in blue from head to toe to support his Gators, who were facing South Carolina with the SEC East on the line. The idea, Meyer claimed, was "to make this one go down in the books."
Instead, Marcus Lattimore was the one who made the game go down in the books by torching Florida for 212 yards and leading the Gamecocks to a convincing 36-14 win over the Gators.
Much has changed since then, of course. Meyer is now out of the picture, Spurrier has proven that 2010 wasn't a fluke and the Gamecocks are indeed a national title contender, and Will Muschamp has built the Gators from the ruins that Meyer left the program in to heights rivaling those of Meyer himself.
In short, the Gators have undergone a huge transformation since that game.
The entire 2010 season was a mess up to that point, but even then, the Gators had a chance to atone for everything—yes, everything.
The embarrassing 31-6 loss in Tuscaloosa and the inexplicable back-to-back home losses to Louisiana State and Mississippi State (in a normal situation, either alone could be forgiven, but the two combined, never)—all of that would be forgiven and even forgotten had the Gators won just one game. If the Gators had beaten South Carolina, the Gators would have made it to Atlanta, which is always the preseason goal.
That's really it, all they had to do was win just one game over a team that had lost to the same Kentucky team that Florida had dismantled a few weeks earlier.
Enter Will Muschamp and a totally new style of football. Say goodbye to everything Urban Meyer ever stood for except the dual-threat QB. Of course, it was going to get worse before it got better, which is why everybody tolerated last year's 7-6 record.
But this year was supposed to be different, which is why everybody started to question Muschamp's future after an ugly season-opening win over Bowling Green. Then came Texas A&M and Tennessee, and the Gators won both. Kentucky was of course a snoozer, LSU was a huge statement win and Vanderbilt might have been even bigger because Florida avoided the trap-game loss, which was something Ron Zook could never do.
The Gators' season is divided into three parts. The first third was loaded with trap games—road trips to Texas A&M and Tennessee, followed by a home game vs. Kentucky—a recipe for disaster if the Gators were 3-0 at that point (which they were) and if they were caught napping looking ahead to LSU the next week (which they weren't).
So that first part showed that the Gators could take care of business in hostile environments. Maybe on an average day Death Valley or Bryant Denny is rowdier than Kyle Field, but it was no average day when Florida came to town—not with the Aggies playing their first-ever SEC game. And while we now know that Tennessee is the same old garbage rotting up the SEC East, their fans didn't know it after a 2-0 start leading up to the Florida game.
In any given circumstance, winning in Kyle Field and Neyland Stadium in back-to-back weeks is an impressive feat. In the above circumstances, it's a milestone. Any team can win one of them, but only great teams can maintain the high level of focus needed to win in those stadiums in back-to-back weeks.
The middle third is the real meat of the schedule. A home win over LSU showed how much pure talent the Gators have and also proved that the Swamp is once again a place where dreams come to die. Beating Vanderbilt showed that the Gators don't let the emotion of one win carry over and translate into mistakes and a letdown loss the next week.
All of this so far has shown what a truly great coach Muschamp is, cleaning up the mess Steve Addazio started and molding the shattered pieces into a winning team. But there's one more step—finish.
The Gators are so close now to winning the SEC East. They just have to win two more games, and they're both against the preseason co-favorites, South Carolina and Georgia.
So once again, the Gators have checked a lot of boxes under Muschamp this season. They've proven they can win big games on the road, they are as talented as anybody in the country and they've won the letdown game against an inferior opponent after a huge win. All that's left now for Muschamp's boys is to prove that they can finish.
Yes, the season is only halfway over. But the Gators have proven everything they've needed to prove that Will Muschamp is the right man for this job...except for that last one.
Beating South Carolina and then Georgia will be all Gators fans need to see in order to believe that Muschamp has fixed the Gators.
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