Where should the Gators be ranked entering the 2011 college football season? So far, only a few lists have come out and the early returns aren't really all that promising, but it really shouldn't be all that surprising either.
Before I start with the lists, I want to point out that I didn't include Bleacher Report for two reasons: 1) I don't really like anything anybody writes over there unless it is a soccer article and 2) It's probably a slide show like everything is for some reason.
SB Nation has the Gators in the "Growth Potential" section of their rankings.
Las Vegas (via Bodog) and their "handicappers" gives the Gators the 7th best odds at winning the National Championship.
Mark Schlabach of ESPN has the Gators 23rd.
Andy Staples of SI.com has the Gators roughly 27th.
NationalChamps.net has the Gators at 28th.
So aside from Las Vegas, it is pretty clear that not many "experts" aren't putting too much faith in the Gators out of the starting gates. Which will make the road to the BCS National Championship Game tougher should the stars align and a miracle happens. But rankings do little in the race for the SEC Championship and rivalry games, and that bodes into the Gators' favor when teams assume that just because of a low ranking, the Gators aren't the same as just a couple of years ago.
Are these Gators the same? Absolutely not. But that isn't the point. Just because the national media doesn't have the Gators ranked high out of the gate, doesn't mean we shouldn't expect them to compete for a SEC East Title and a shot in the SEC Championship Game.
So the question is...where would you rank them?