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The Alligator Army Weekly Open Thread, Vol. XCV

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A hard-fought loss earned Florida some respect this weekend.

NCAA Football: Florida at Louisiana State Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Gators allowed more than 10 yards per play, their most points under Dan Mullen, and nearly two points per minute of possession on Saturday night.

They also dropped a whopping two spots in the AP Top 25.

That’s what earning a bit of respect in a loss looks like.

I can’t really explain all of that, at least nationally; I suspect my own assessment of this team, which is slightly less rosy than some pundits’ takes that I’ve seen, is focused more on the defense getting vivisected by LSU than the offense hanging with the Tigers for the better part of three quarters. The idea that Florida played 40 good minutes of football doesn’t console me as much as it should, perhaps.

But Kyle Trask stubbornly refuses to turn into a pumpkin. Florida keeps finding ways to score points and move the ball with an offensive line that seems to actively work against the offense’s goals at times. The Gators did get a couple of stops against an awesome offense that I am confident can turn any game into tennis. Had a penalty or two gone the other way, or had Trask thrown a touchdown instead of a pick at the crucial moment when he did, maybe we’re talking about Florida not just as an undefeated team but the No. 1 team in the country — based on résumé, anyway — this afternoon.

Those things didn’t happen. Florida lost. The Gators’ path to the SEC Championship Game and the College Football Playoff got narrower on Saturday.

I’ll be damned if the world doesn’t think a bit more of this team than it did before Saturday dawned, though.