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Sunday, January 17, 2021

No, Florida isn’t the second-best team in college football

UF was the only team in the CFP’s top 10 to finish with more than three losses

Photo courtesy of the SEC Media Portal
Photo courtesy of the SEC Media Portal

So I’ve been seeing some interesting takes after the National Championship Monday.

The game was a rout — the Alabama Crimson Tide rolled over the Ohio State Buckeyes 52-24. Afterward, a few people on Twitter insinuated that Florida should be considered the second-best team in college football because it played Alabama close in one of the most impressive showings any team has put up against the Tide.

Put simply, it’s ridiculous.

Now, that isn’t to diminish UF’s game against Alabama. Florida put up more of a fight than most did in its 52-46 loss, and Florida’s offense fired on all cylinders against a defense that contained an Ohio State team that put up 49 points against the No. 2 Clemson Tigers. That all being said, though, Florida’s woes before and after that game make them far from the nation’s second-best football team.

We can start with the defense. Florida gave up a staggering 6.06 yards per play and ranked 83rd in the nation in total defense, giving up 44 offensive touchdowns and 428 yards per game over the course of the season. The defensive side of the ball and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham are the most criticized part of the Gators’ squad, and it was certainly a large reason why UF dropped its last three games in a row.

Florida’s offense was fantastic, of course. The Gators were ninth in total offense for 2020, managing 7.28 yards per play and 58 offensive touchdowns. It was the unit that kept them in games, but it was unable to overcome the team’s lack of defense in the final stretch. Still, it’s argued that the offensive unit wasn’t among the best in the country.

Keyword: “Among.” Florida wasn’t top five in any offensive category this year, coming in at sixth in offensive touchdowns, 47th in total yards and 42nd in yards per play and yards per game. Teams like Alabama, North Carolina and BYU came in top three in three of those categories, so it’s tough to say that Florida was the runner-up to the Tide in all those respects.

Finally, Florida’s losses don’t scream second-best, either. While the Gators have plenty of quality losses in Alabama, Texas A&M and Oklahoma, its worst loss comes to LSU, a team that finished the year with a 5-5 record. Only one other team in the College Football Playoff Top 10 had a loss to an opponent with more than five losses at the end of the year (Oklahoma dropped a game to 4-6 Kansas State). Aside from the fact that UF’s four losses were the most among the CFP’s top 10, these types of defeats don’t come at the hands of a top three team.

Florida’s game against Alabama was certainly impressive. But to think the team is right behind the Tide with four losses to its name may be a bit much.

Contact River Wells at rwells@alligator.org and follow him on Twitter @riverhwells



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