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November 18, 2012
Holt: All on the line this weekend
Don't look now, but everything just might be falling into place for the unlikely path of the 2012 Gators.
The nation's No. 1 and No. 2 ranked teams each played and lost Saturday night. No. 1 Kansas State went on the road to Baylor and was dismantled by an unranked Bears team that came in with a sub-.500 record and the nation's second-worst defense. After a 52-24 drubbing, the Wildcats dropped to No. 6 in the latest BCS rankings.
No. 2 Oregon went to overtime against No. 13 Stanford and fell 17-14. In the latest BCS rankings, the Ducks come in at No. 5.
Florida now finds itself at No. 6 in both the AP Poll and the USA Today Coaches' Poll, but neither of those rankings matter in the grand scheme. The Gators are No. 4 in the BCS, largely a factor of favorable computer rankings, and have legitimate national championship hopes for the first time since losing to Georgia (BCS No. 3) on Oct. 27.
"When you look at our record, schedule, and what we have accomplished this year, we have had a hell of a year," Florida coach Will Muschamp said. "You control the things you can control. That is one thing I learned last year. Some things you can't control. You don't want to spend a whole lot of time worrying about them."
Muschamp might not admit to thinking about the BCS circumstances surrounding his team, but reality is beginning to set in.
Saturday, No. 4 Florida will play BCS No. 10 Florida State in Tallahassee. The game will serve as a BCS play-in game for the Gators. Win, and Florida is all but guaranteed a spot in a BCS game, whether it be the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz., or the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.
Things could get more interesting if Florida can get some help.
At 8 p.m. on Saturday, BCS No. 1 Notre Dame will face No. 16 Southern California in Los Angeles. It is Notre Dame's final game of the 2012 season. Should the Trojans pull off an upset, it will open a spot for a victorious Florida to slide up in the rankings and into position to fit into the national championship picture.
It is unlikely the Gators will get help from Auburn or Georgia Tech, the two teams that will play No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Georgia this weekend. But that will ultimately not matter: The Crimson Tide will play the Bulldogs the following week in the Southeastern Conference Championship and eliminate one team from national title contention.
All Florida can control is its game against Florida State. A 10-2 record and a trip to Tampa or Orlando certainly wouldn't be bad for a team that finished last season 7-6. However, the Gators know a win against the Seminoles can propel them to their true goals.
"If we lose, we know we're going to go to a worse bowl," redshirt senior offensive guard James Wilson said. "That's not our goal. We want to be in a top BCS Bowl."
Beat FSU and that will happen. Get some help elsewhere, and a trip to Miami for the 2013 BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 7 is in play.