There's something different about a night game in The Swamp. There's something very different about a game against Florida State. There's something special about having both in one (7:30 p.m., ESPN or WatchESPN).
I've been working and traveling a lot this week, and I haven't previewed this game as meticulously as I would've liked to. But what is there to preview, really? Florida's offense needs to play better to have any chance if FSU's can score touchdowns, and Treon Harris will be the key to that happening. Florida needs to limit Dalvin Cook as much as it can, because it can't rely on getting pressure on Sean Maguire and pouncing on his throws with a beat-up defensive line. And the Gators are in deep, deep trouble if this game comes down to field goals.
But you knew all that. You've known all about this team, about its strengths and weaknesses, because they largely haven't changed, and have certainly been on full display in the month of November. Florida's defense is very good. Florida's offense is very not. The Gators' special teams are either great (punting, punt coverage, punt returns, and kick coverage) or terrible (field goals and kick return — did you know that Florida's allowed the fourth-fewest kickoffs in all of college football, and is also No. 123 in opponents' kickoff averages), with little room in between.
Tonight will come down to execution, probably. Maybe to a turnover. If we're really as unlucky as we can be, it will come down to an Austin Hardin field goal.
But Florida has 10 wins with a team that few predicted would get more than eight at any point this offseason, has its first SEC East title this decade, and has a brighter future under Jim McElwain — the first Florida coach ever to win 10 games in his first campaign — than I could have reasonably hoped to see.
So there's plenty of reason to consider everything the Gators have already done a successful season, and to consider everything that will come a bonus. There's reason to yell and scream and vent spleen tonight and next Saturday and in a bowl, but to maintain the perspective that nothing can make this season unsuccessful.
That's what I'm going to try to do — and I'll be understanding of people who think differently, I promise — and that's why I'm going to this game with only the expectation of being entertained. I just want to see a good football game, to root for my team, to hope they win, and to be proud if they don't.
I think the Florida Gators can do all that tonight.
But I won't complain if they chomp the Seminoles. I promise.