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Monday, January 30, 2023

I would normally recommend taking a step back from the hysterically overblown hype of this game. Take Feleipe Franks’ jump pass, take the two blocked kicks, take that goofy GIF of coach Dan Mullen dancing — take it all and bury it in a box. Bury that box in a ditch and toss that ditch into a river.

I would normally recommend taking that box out only in emergencies, say, for a potential beatdown of the Gators.

F*** that. Roll with it, you spunky Gators. Ride that wave of euphoria. That’s the most patriotic advice I can dish out.

Fan bases — like the American people — need to feel good about some things. Small victories matter to us. Our collective ritual of hootin’ n’ hollerin’ over football-watchin’ serves a greater purpose.

It breeds debate for people who otherwise wouldn’t normally talk to those they disagree with. It gives some folks a reason to look forward to next week and a sense of community.

All of those feelings are sorely missing, especially in today’s political and social climate.

Strip away all of the expectations on the Gators this season. Shed the veil of 8-4 predictions. Ignore the “It’s-only-the-first-game-against-an-FCS-team” talk.

Be excited. Overreact after every win because the experts told you your team didn’t stand a chance. Melt down with every loss because the optimists jinxed it.

It’s OK to enjoy something. It’s OK to feel overwhelming emotion because a ball bounced your way as opposed to theirs. That’s not being selfish, that’s being human.

I attended Auburn University from 2008-2011. It was a great experience for all of these reasons. The culture up there revolves around football even after multiple losing seasons. That’s not the right or wrong way to live life, it just happens to unite a politically purple county in a deep-red state.

Besides, there’s no real reason Franks can’t win a Heisman this season. Nobody can say that with ultimate certainty at this point in time. There’s no real reason Florida can’t go undefeated until the SEC Championship Game. Lord knows FSU didn’t look too hot Monday night, and LSU’s quarterback play still leaves a lot to be desired.  

There will obviously be stumbles and fumbles along the way. Mullen will not be here forever. Tim Tebow will eventually stop taking our calls.

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So thump your collective chest, Gators fans, while you still can. Feel good about a 53-6 beatdown of an inferior opponent. It’s OK.

 

Morgan McMullen is the sports editor at The Alligator. Follow him on Twitter @MorganMcMuffin and contact him at mmcmullen@alligator.org.

 

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