A final game day filled with shenanigans with my friends. The last home game of the season. A night game in The Swamp, at that, against Florida State.
Last Saturday sounded as if it would be quite an enjoyable one.
I'm from Pensacola, and P-Cola's proximity to FSU means I have a number of friends who currently attend FSU, and some friends that are just Seminole fans in general -- though I sometimes wonder how could I be friends with such people. Because of that, the trash talk I got to see and hear leading up to this game did not fall short to say the least. My Facebook feed was dotted by articles regarding each team's playful hatred for each other, and #FSUHateWeek and #UFHateWeek hashtags popped up all over my Twitter timeline.
But when the thought of the actual football game that would be played crossed my mind, I wasn't confident. With the way the Gators played against Vanderbilt and Florida Atlantic in the weeks prior to this in-state match-up, I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous going into the game last Saturday.
Would Treon Harris be able to perform like we needed him to? Would Austin Hardin be able to hit field goals when we needed him to? Would we be able to stop the seemingly threatening Dalvin Cook? Would we be able to rid ourselves of the nauseating War Chant by maybe playing a decent game and shutting down the Seminoles?
I wasn't expecting a "good game" exactly, but wasn't expecting our only points on the board to be from a safety either. And I wasn't expecting just two points. (Only two freaking points!) (Two!)
I'm a fairly optimistic person, so when kickoff arrived, I had hopes. I wouldn't call them high hopes, but I hadn't given up on my Gators by any means.
Generally speaking, I wasn't alone in keeping the faith. Even though FSU scored its first touchdown early in the first half, Florida fans didn't go down without a fight. The Swamp sounded as loud as ever, in what seemed like an attempt to drown out the Seminole band's ruckus, which got played over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.
And even when the Gators went down 13-0 in the third quarter, I wasn't really despairing: That wasn't too big of a score gap in my mind, and I still had a slight hope the Gators could somehow pull this off, even after Hardin had missed yet another field goal. It was still the third quarter, people, I thought in the direction of some retreating backs. Don't start clearing the stands just yet!
But we didn't come back. We played a pretty sick game of hot potato, thanks to CeCe Jefferson, and even though we couldn't get the ball ourselves, at least we finally got some dang points. Once the scoreboard read 20-2, however, I knew the game was over, even though the clock still had some time left.
This was my first time experiencing a loss in The Swamp in person, even with games I had been to in the past before I was a student. It definitely had a different air than a win under the lights.
When my dad would tell me tales about his time at UF, he said the atmosphere after a loss was almost funeral-like. That was pretty darn close: There wasn't any crazy rowdiness after the triple zeroes showed on the clock, and the "It's great to be a Florida Gator!" chants were few and far between, outnumbered by lot of solemn looks and outweighed by silence.
But, well, we deserved every bit of that loss. We looked horrible. I get the subdued response.
Still, I would definitely rather be a Florida Gator than a Florida State Seminole. Sorry, not sorry about that.
And if you'll excuse me, I have to go do some homework. Gotta get that handled before the weekend, because the Gators still have one more game to play in 2015.