Win or lose, the Georgia game can make or break Florida's season. In a year of no dominant teams (well, TCU and Cincinnati excluded), one beat down can restore the shine to Florida's crown, kill the distractions and put them back on a straight path to Atlanta and Pasadena. Another mess of a game just continues the heartburn. A loss, and you can kiss the BCS goodbye.
Distractions come with being the defending champions and they keep piling up. First, it is losing Percy Harvin, Louis Murphy and Dan Mullen. Then, it's Lane Kiffin and Tim Tebow having to do too much. Now it is that Charlie Strong is Teflon and Steve Addazio is toxic.
But Urban Meyer is circling the wagons.
"There's going to be negative," Meyer said, reiterating his message to the team. "Whether it's right or wrong, the way it is people want to see people fail. That's the way it is. Our job is not to change human nature. Our job is to control the football team and each other and continue to have a very close family atmosphere, family chemistry. And we have that."
That the players are feeling the same heartburn as the fans is a good thing. But Meyer is turning around the press clippings and blog posts that says this Gators team isn't good enough. In the past, Meyer was willing to keep telling the team they weren't good enough. Now, he has to do the reverse to inspire the team. If Meyer does it and Florida starts winning they way they should be winning, it is the finest coaching job of his career. At this point, no one is expecting Florida to roll up 40 point wins like last season. But we do expect Florida to finish their opponents, which they would have done against Mississippi State had they not had Tebow throwing from inside his end zone.
Florida needs to perform well against Georgia and show the finish that they did last year and in 2006. Maybe this time around, it will take pats on the back from Meyer to do it.