SEC East back in Gators' Hands

The Florida Gators ended one drought last season after knocking off Arkansas for their first SEC Championship since 2000. After their impressive win against Kentucky, they now once again hold the keys to the SEC East heading into the last week of October.

Though the mid-1990s, the Gators dominated the nation's best football conference, stringing together championships in four straight seasons. Things looked upbeat for another trip to Atlanta after a whopping of Tennessee, but two straight conference losses to LSU and Auburn pushed UF to fifth place in the SEC.

After Saturday, the Gators once again control their destiny on the road to the Georgia Dome. Alabama's win over Tennessee and Vanderbilt's win over South Carolina combined with the Gators win against Kentucky leaves five teams in the East with two losses. Florida has already knocked off the Vols and now the Wildcats, so if they finished in a tie for first place with either team, they win the tie-breaker. And with matchups against South Carolina and Georgia still to come, only the Gators can keep the Gators from going to Atlanta in December.

For Urban Meyer, though, he's got a locker room filled with 19 and 20 year olds and doesn't want to start thinking about who controls who's destiny.

"If you're worrying about anything other than going to Jacksonville next weekend against Georgia then we're mistaken," Meyer said. "Yes, it's wide open. It was wide open last week. It doesn't matter who beat who, just take care of your business. We've got a tough game and great rivalry next week."

But the reality is that Meyer is dealing with a bunch of 19-20 year olds, and they know exactly where they stand in the race for Atlanta.

"It feels good, real good, to be in control," Tebow said. "We have to go out there and play hard to get to Atlanta. Today was a great day for Florida. I'm excited."

"We were devastated, especially after the last one against LSU," Percy Harvin said. "We played a pretty good game on offense. We just had two turnovers and that kind of cost us at the end of the game. We just have to stay focused. We knew that the SEC is still wide open and hearing that Tennessee and South Carolina lost just opened up the gate for us. That helped motivate us at halftime and we came out and played harder."

For Andre Caldwell, another chance to play in Atlanta would be the perfect way to cap off his career at Florida.

"It feels good to have it back in our own hands and not have to worry about what every one else is doing," Caldwell said. "We can just go out and play our style of football and win football games."

But for Louis Murphy who was responsible for the game's longest play, he has the attitude Meyer is looking for.

"I heard about Tennessee and South Carolina during the game, but we're not focused on that," he said. "We're just focused on getting ready for Georgia next week. We're going to keep going from there."

The Gator offense ran off 24 points in the second half against Kentucky. Whether it was the results from other SEC games that motivated them or just the task at hand, it looks like they may be clicking again on offense as they head into the stretch run.

"It's the same feeling as last year in the locker room," Caldwell said. "We can't lose. We can't let anyone break our spirits. We have to go out there and play our game, and that's all we can do."

And with USF losing on Thursday to Rutgers and Cal losing their second straight this weekend, forget about undefeated teams. There might not be enough one-loss teams to fill out the BCS title game in January.

"You never now this year," Caldwell said. "It's been a crazy year of football. Two loss teams could end up playing for the BCS Championship game. That's very surprising. I never thought I would see that happen."

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Chris Chmielenski


Fightin Gators Top Stories