If the Florida Gators lose to the LSU Tigers on this Saturday afternoon (3:30 p.m. Eastern, CBS or CBS All Access) that would have gotten Les Miles and Jim McElwain to get all but rhapsodic about football and blue skies and the sun and whatever else? It’ll be fine.
Florida’s in the first year of Dan Mullen’s tenure, after all, and LSU is the nation’s No. 5 team. Those teams sometimes go on the road and into hostile environments and come away with wins. LSU’s already done that once this year, too, squeaking out a win at Auburn.
The Tigers look like fringe College Football Playoff contenders, too, by virtue of that win over the other Tigers of the SEC West and a more lopsided win over Miami. Ed Orgeron has gone from the hot seat to somewhere near the catbird seat in the span of a month.
LSU should win this game.
But so should Florida.
The Gators are slight favorites, per the major rankings based on advanced stats, because they’re slightly better than their poll ranking in those assessments — and LSU’s worse than its ranking — and because they’re at home. In other years, ones in which Florida was a national title contender and not a team that lost at home to Kentucky, it’d be easy to project that a raucuous, ravenous crowd in The Swamp might devour the Gators’ foe in the first CBS game of the year for Florida.
Florida is also coming off two very good games won in very different ways, and has shown no fear and plenty of resilience this year. And if you think these Gators are intimidated by LSU, a program that has played Florida to a tie over its last two meetings? You can be wrong, I guess. It’s okay.
If Florida wins today? It’s going to be a very, very good thing for the Gators.
But that’s far from assured. All we know is that Florida is good, LSU is good, the games between these teams are generally good — in terms of drama, if not always in terms of quality — and that this should be fun.
I’m excited for this fun.