Let's be clear about one thing: Florida isn't going to defeat Alabama in Saturday's SEC Championship Game (4:00 p.m., CBS or CBS Sports). The Gators' defense is great, sure, and you can squint to see it as more than a match for Alabama's offense, even if Derrick Henry will almost certainly become the Crimson Tide's second Heisman winner.
But Florida's offense wouldn't score on the best high school teams in the country all that often, it feels like, much less Alabama's equally stout defense. And the parts of Florida's special teams responsible for scoring points are a disaster, so bad that an open tryout for kickers somehow netted a walk-on coaches don't think is better than a kicker who has made five of 13 field goals in 2015 and 15 of 36 in his career.
Florida's coming off a miserable month of offensive futility which culminated in that offense getting shut out by Florida State; only a safety generated by that Gators defense got Florida on the board, and that seemingly indefatigable group of Gators wore down in the final minutes of the fourth quarters, succumbing to Dalvin Cook.
Henry? He leans a whole lot harder on a defense than the nimble Cook does, and he runs behind a better offensive line, and his team's defense is better than the one that just smothered Florida's offense. There's no great reason to think that this week's results should be better than last week's for Florida, and, in all probability, they probably won't.
And you know what? That's okay.
It may make me a "weird" person, or some "lesser" Florida fan, but I have learned over the last five or so years of watching and covering Florida football that I am far more sanguine after losses than most. I (and this blog) have been ridiculed for that — as if selling sunshine isn't trafficking in the commodity most fans want, and something I'm far from alone in doing — but I think I've arguably also done the hard work of being rational when all about were losing their heads, holding the center and straining to be honest rather than contorting facts to fit my view.
I don't think Will Muschamp was the worst coach ever; I don't think Jim McElwain is the best coach ever. I don't think Florida's 2012 season (or its 2013 season) was just a blip or an outlier; I don't know if Florida's 2015 season is the beginning of a new halcyon era.
These things are tough to know, because there are arguments for and against and reasons to buttress both sides. The sample sizes, especially in this shortest and most volatile of major American sports, generally don't allow for the accumulation of so much data that conclusions can be ironclad. And while it's sometimes fun to argue — and always will be — the arguments that power college football have wearied me more and more.
I don't get tired of what I do know, incontrovertibly: The feeling of rooting for the Florida Gators, and cheering for them to succeed. I had fun at Florida's loss last Saturday, and would've had fun at an overtime game against Florida Atlantic, and would have had fun in Atlanta today had I been able to go. I'm going to have fun watching this game from my comfortable chair in my apartment, and in the sports bar called Twitter.
This is the first season in which Florida has won 10 games, and the first one in which will play 14 games, since 2009. That's more football — 7.7 percent more! — than fans of teams in bowl games and outside conference championship games will get, and more — 16.6 percent more — than teams who won't go bowling get. It's 16.6 percent more football than Florida played in 2013 and 2014, by virtue of a losing record and a stormed-out season opener, respectively.
Yeah, Florida's probably going to lose today. But Florida's playing today.
I'm choosing to savor my chance to cheer on this December Saturday. Even if you're more prone to jeer — you will certainly have reason to — I urge you to consider the opportunity these Gators have given us.
Go Gators. Win or lose, I hope you enjoy this game as much as I've enjoyed you.