I'm really good at NCAA Football, and have been for years and years. (Also: Single.) And what I'd do every year, when I wanted to bring my Army or Texas State team from obscurity to the national title game, was lard my schedule with the highest-ranked teams I could possibly fit into my virtual powerhouse-to-be's slate.
That's the way you make the digital citizens of NCAA Footballandia sit up and take notice. That's exactly what Florida can do in 2014.
The Gators aren't ranked in either of the major preseason polls — which don't, um, matter anymore, except for tradition's and argument's sake — but they will play six or seven ranked teams. They get to take on preseason No. 1 Florida State and preseason No. 2 Alabama. They play South Carolina and LSU, both "top-10" teams, at home, and will see another "top-15" team, Georgia, in Jacksonville. Missouri might be ranked when the Tigers come to Gainesville; there's an outside chance that Kentucky, Tennessee, or Vanderbilt will be ranked when Florida plays those teams.
Florida will have so many chances to vault in the polls this year that it's literally not funny: Most people look at this Florida schedule and laugh only to keep from crying. But, yes, while those are tough games, tough games have winners, and Florida prevailed in a bunch of games in similar situations in 2012. That's what the Gators have to be hoping for and working toward this year.
That's what Florida will always be working toward, even if its path to the program's elusive unbeaten season is now perhaps the hardest one in college football. Florida plays what becomes a ridiculous schedule virtually every year — and, really, crashing and burning once in four decades isn't so bad, given that rigor — and the Gators will always be in the national championship hunt if they can survive their gauntlet runs with one loss, or none.
The best thing about starting from the bottom is how good it feels to be on top. The best thing about Florida's 2014 is that these Gators might get to feel that again.