That doesn't mean that something crazy can't and won't happen, but Urban Meyer is starting to believe that he's been through enough big rivalry games in Gainesville that he won't be surprised by anything.
"I was educated about this rivalry a couple of years ago, and it is very intense," Meyer said on Monday afternoon. "Most of these young players know each other and most of them were recruited by both schools. It really became great in the 1990s when both schools were constantly competing for a national championship."
For the first time under Meyer, the Gators head into a rivalry game coming off a loss in a rivalry game. Meyer had been 7-0 against the Gators' three rivals until Georgia stunned the Gators in Jacksonville last month. The Dawgs win can't be classified as an upset, but it shows that anything is possible in games with this kind of intensity.
"I know there will be a little different step around this facility as we get ready for this one," Meyer said.
Two years ago, the Gators' 34-7 win over the Seminoles at The Swamp accelerated their recruiting. Meyer pulled in the second rated class according to Scout.com that year.
"I think that was a program changer," Meyer said. "That one set us on a nice little run and helped us on recruiting. It brought in an '06 class that was very instrumental in helping us win a national championship, so it was an unbelievable day for Florida football."
After the game, Meyer recalled many of the game's visitors wanting to commit to the Gators.
"I remember walking around with my hands in my pocket because so many people wanted to commit and shake our hand right at that moment," he said. "We needed that to happen. Our players stepped up and made some great things happen on the field that year. The atmosphere in the locker room was tremendous."
One of those key players from the '06 class hasn't been so valuable in the last two weeks. Percy Harvin has been sidelined with migraines, but Meyer is confident the sophomore wide receiver will return for Saturday's season finale against FSU.
"He did well yesterday when he was out running on the field," Meyer said. "The medication that they gave him was a success. He was out running yesterday and was in meetings this morning. He has that Percy Harvin look again."
Picking up most of Harvin's slack for the last two weeks has been Andre Caldwell who for the second straight week earned co-player of the game honors for his 13 catch, 169-yard performance against FAU. For Caldwell, he'll be one of nine seniors to make their final appearance at The Swamp on Saturday.
"It is a small senior class," Meyer said. "We have more true freshmen starting at Florida than seniors. You think of the numbers that are now out on the stadium walls and they will always be a part of that. We just missed short competing for another SEC. I think they are a tremendous group. Several have made a major impact on this program."
Although Harvin may be back, several other Gators that were banged up on Saturday may miss this weekend's matchup with the Noles.
"Joe Haden is questionable; it is a high ankle sprain," Meyer said. "Mike Pouncey is probable, Lawrence Marsh is questionable with a sprained toe, hyper-extended knee and an ankle sprain."
With Haden questionable, the Gator secondary is susceptible, and FSU is sure to try and attack the Gators after allowing 309 passing yards to FAU on Saturday.
"It is as big of a concern as we have right now," Meyer said. "We need to look at our personnel and see who is available. We are looking right now at Wondy Pierre-Louis, Jacques Rickerson and Moses Jenkins. We are just really thin in that area. Markihe Anderson and Joe Haden are still questionable so we will know more in the next couple of days."
Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Chris Chmielenski
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