The Sports Place

First off for the USC fans who will probably come in droves if they read this here's the disclaimer:  "This blog used the BCS championship for the BCS years but I do recognized that the AP selected USC as National Champions in 2003)."

Now, off to the good stuff.  When trying to repeat especially in this BCS age, history has shown it has been very difficult to do.  No BCS team has repeated as national champion since its inception.  The last team to repeat as national champions was the 1994 and 1995 University of Nebraska Cornhuskers.  That means it has been 13 years since there was a repeat.  In fact, there have been four teams that have made to the BCS championship game in consecutive years (FSU, Miami, Oklahoma and OSU), but none of them have won it twice in a row. 

The last time Florida won a national championship was in 2006.  In 2007 they posted a 9-4 record and lost to Michigan in the Capital One Bowl.  The University of Miami came close to repeating when they lost to Ohio State in the 2002 National Championship game.  Were it not for a really late call against them there would have been a repeat BCS champion crowned that evening.

Florida has all the pieces together to repeat as champions but they must face a tough SEC conference that appears to be stacked again.  They return 17 starters, 6 on offense and 11 on defense.  There biggest problem is not with their team but with the other teams in the SEC conference and in what should be a vastly improved FSU team. 

The first two games won't be as competitive as their spring games and therefore they should win them without much effort from the first team.  The third game is a conference clash with Tennessee.  The Gators will be highly motivated for this game given all the comments made about their program by the new Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin.  The Gators will take out their revenge on the field and win this one. 

Their next game is on the road and against the University of Kentucky.  The Gators bring their 22 game winning streak against the Wildcats with them to Lexington and will emerge with a 23rd straight victory.  Then it gets tough. 

They go to Baton Rouge to face the LSU Tigers.  LSU is a preseason number 13 team returning 13 starters.  LSU has a tougher schedule than Florida preceding this game which should make them battle tested.  The Florida game will be LSU's fourth conference game of the season and they will be coming off the of a two game road trip.  However, Les Miles knows that a win over the national champions will go a long way for his team and he will have the Tigers ready for this game. 

Florida always gets up for the big games but being in Baton Rouge will be the X-factor for LSU.  I predict LSU will win a close game in the fourth quarter thus giving Florida one setback to repeating as champions.

The next two games for Florida will provide them with an opportunity to rebound from the tough loss at LSU.  With wins over Arkansas and Mississippi State, Florida will find themselves at 6-1 going in the Georgia game.

A tough win against Georgia and wins over the next three opponents, Vandy, South Carolina, and Florida International will make the Gators 10-1 going into their annual rivalry game against FSU.  The Seminoles will be much improved this season but not to the point where they will beat the Gators in the Swamp.  The Gators will finish the regular season at 11-1 and face a Alabama team vent on avenging their lost in the 2008 SEC title game. 

The Crimson Tide will end any hope of the Gators repeating as national champions by defeating them is classic rematch for the SEC title.  All will not be lost on the Gators as they will still receive an at large BCS bowl bid.  The burden of repeating is one that is tough to bear and it will get the best of these Gators.  Not because of lack of talent or effort on their part but the SEC is a conference where a few potential national champion teams reside.  A couple of the lesser SEC teams could arguably win other BCS conferences.  Too many big games against teams looking to hit the target on the Gators back.

"Second Disclaimer:  The writer has the right to change his opinion at mid-season." 




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