After downing LSU in Death Valley, Florida has at least a faint heartbeat in the College Football Playoff chase.
The Gators rose to No. 15 in Tuesday’s rankings, the second-to-last set before the final Playoff rankings are released in December.
Florida has been No. 11, unranked, and No. 23 in the three sets of rankings released thus far in 2016. The Gators’ 31-10 loss to Arkansas dropped them out of the rankings, but a victory over South Carolina and significant attrition in front of them allowed them to hop back in prior to their meeting with the Tigers.
If Florida is going to make a charge at the Playoff, it will do so by knocking off two teams ranked in front of it. This Saturday brings a chance to take at least the next rung on the rankings by merely bumping off the team that occupies it, No. 14 Florida State. Next Saturday, in Atlanta, the Gators will see No. 1 Alabama — a team that might not lose that top spot even if it falls to Auburn in the Iron Bowl.
Of course, Florida held the No. 12 spot in last year’s College Football Playoff rankings for the week of Thanksgiving — and lost its next three games by at least two touchdowns each.