Florida took a top-10 ranking and ownership of its own destiny in regards to both the SEC Championship Game and College Football Playoff to Arkansas on Saturday.
The Gators will leave the Natural State after a demoralizing 31-10 loss to the Razorbacks with no hope of keeping any of them — and precious little hope remaining in a fan base for whom a moribund offense is once more a pressing concern.
The Gators’ second loss of 2016 began with a pick-six on a pass that Luke Del Rio fired slightly behind Tyrie Cleveland. Cleveland bobbled it, and it bounced into the arms of Arkansas defender Santos Ramirez, whose legs swiftly put Florida in its first 7-0 hole of 2016.
It got worse from there, almost without mitigation. Duke Dawson pick-sixed Austin Allen on an awful throw in the first quarter, but it was 14-0 before he did, and would be 21-7 by halftime.
In that first half, Florida had 104 yards — 36 on underneath throws on the final drive of the period. In the second half, Florida added 137 more.
And Arkansas outgained the Gators by more than 200 yards despite a spate of holding penalties, and held the ball for nearly 20 more minutes, and allowed Florida to convert just one of 11 third downs, and tallied more than 200 yards on the ground and through the air and ... it was bad.
Florida’s still, somehow, in control of its own destiny in the SEC East: If it can win its next two games against South Carolina and LSU, it could book travel to Atlanta for the second straight season.
But hoping for this team to control much of anything at this point seems futile.