The Florida football team ended the regular season the same way it began: beating an in-state rival.
But other than bookend victories against Miami in Week 0 and a 40-17 win against Florida State Saturday, not much remained the same from Aug. 24 up until this point for the Gators.
A new quarterback took over a revolutionized offense, and in the face of a slew of injuries on both sides of the ball, UF still improved on last season’s regular season campaign.
In Dan Mullen’s first year with the program, Florida went 10-3 and won a New Year’s Six Bowl, which was a monumental improvement from the four-win 2017 season.
“I think you look at how this team won, how we won big games, had a tough schedule,” Mullen said. “To go play some tough road games, we had to play, and how we competed, I thought they took a huge step forward.”
Mullen vouched for his team’s body of work after the game Saturday night.
“I think we have a pretty solid resume to be a top-10 team,” he said.
The AP Poll voters responded Sunday afternoon, moving UF up to No. 7 in the poll. But it remains to be seen if the College Football Playoff Committee agrees. Florida was No. 11 in the latest CFP rankings released last Tuesday.
Mullen took a jab at the committee for moving Baylor up several spots in the rankings last week after a win over Texas.
“Hopefully we did enough to get a New Year’s Six Bowl, maybe even more,” he said. “I saw, right, Baylor beat a six-win team last week and jumped up five spots. We did the same thing today, pretty handily, so we’ll see how that is.”
Snide remarks aside, Florida’s only losses this season came to No. 1 LSU on the road and No. 4 Georgia at a neutral site by a combined 21 points. The Gators also beat six bowl-eligible teams this season (it would be seven if not for Missouri’s postseason ban).
ESPN’s FPI numbers also display UF in a favorable light. Florida has the fifth-best strength of record, which is a reflection of how likely an average top-25 team would have a team’s record or better given the schedule.
The Gators team efficiencies were also all in the top 25. The offense was No. 13, the defense was No. 10 and special teams were No. 21. Overall, the team efficiency was No. 9 in the nation.
Now, Florida will wait and see its place in the CFP rankings after last weekend’s events (Alabama losing) and championship weekend (Georgia and LSU playing for the conference title). Depending on how the committee ranks Florida, it could be representing the SEC in a second-consecutive New Year’s Six Bowl.
Follow Kyle Wood on Twitter @Kkylewood. Contact him at [email protected]