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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

From the time confetti was falling on Dolphin Stadium, people started talking about the 2009 UF football team.

The Gators had just won their second national championship in three years, with a pretty young team to boot.

By the time Tim Tebow announced he was coming back (and was joined by Brandon Spikes), college football experts began discussing it.

The question is one that has already been asked a thousand times: Can the UF football team repeat as national champions?

There is certainly little doubt surrounding the consensus preseason pick for national champion.

The four major preseason magazines already released &ndash Phil Steele, Lindy's, Athlon and Sporting News &ndash all peg the Gators as No. 1.

They have been installed as 2-1 favorites by sportsbooks, according to The next closest team? The school UF defeated in this year's championship game, Oklahoma, at 9-2.

At SEC Media Days, UF was the first unanimous selection to win its division since the league split into East and West in 1992. The Gators also earned 63 of 64 media votes to be predicted as overall SEC champion.

As has been mentioned plenty of times before, UF returns its entire two-deep on defense. Tebow is set to go down as one of the best college quarterbacks ever, and Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey showed they can be ample home-run threats on any carry last season.

The offensive line loses two starters (Jason Watkins and Phil Trautwein) but has sophomore Matt Patchan switching back to the O-line, where he earned All-America honors in high school, and Sam Robey showed he could start at center with a breakout spring.

It should be noted, however, that this is a perilous journey. There has not been an undisputed repeat national champion since Nebraska did it in 1994-95.

Teams easily can become complacent and expect to roll over opponents without putting in the work. Certainly UF's experience and leadership from Tebow and Spikes will help fight that.

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The Gators tumbled after winning the crystal ball in 2006 and finished 9-4 in 2007 with a disappointing 41-35 loss to Michigan in the Capital One Bowl. But that 2007 team was much different from the year prior &ndash this time, the 2009 team looks an awful like 2008, only with another year more experience.

Besides complacency, the biggest factor will be the departure of Percy Harvin to the NFL Draft and the inexperienced receiving corps.

But even that can't stop the excitement from fans and analysts alike.

In fact, some people have Tebow holding a crystal ball in Pasadena as such a sure thing that they started wondering if UF will lose any games at all.

The Vince Young-led 2005 Texas team was the last undefeated national champion.

Lost in the midst of last year's now-famous The Promise, Tebow let it slip that an undefeated season was the goal &ndash last year.

"We were hoping for an undefeated season. That was my goal, something Florida has never done here."

Was he just a year off?

Only time will tell.

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