Synan Says, The Real Top 25 in College Football: Gators Poised to Take Next Step in 2020

Two years into the Dan Mullen era and Gator fans are feeling pretty good about the future.

The Gators did not cover the spread but handled its business against Virginia in the Orange Bowl. Now, the Gators can set their sights on their real goals: winning the SEC East and the SEC Championship.

The old adage is that it is easy to get to nine wins in college football but it is those last two that remain the hardest. For Florida, that means taking on the current kings of the SEC East, the Georgia Bulldogs. The Gators are making progress catching up to UGA. Yes, Georgia still has better recruiting classes but that also means guys like Jake Fromm and Deandre Swift are so good that they’ve left early for the NFL. Enter new quarterback Jamie Newman, transferring in from Wake Forest. As we saw this season with Joe Burrow at LSU and Jalen Hurts at Oklahoma, bringing in a graduate transfer can work. I’m just not sure it will work in Athens.

The Gators have been building steadily towards taking down the Bulldogs. With Kyle Trask returning to lead Florida, this seems like their best shot.

Congrats to 15-0 LSU for winning the National Championship in convincing fashion over Clemson. Are they the best team ever? You can make a convincing argument. Here is how LSU’s opponents finished in the final Coaches Poll:

  • #2 Clemson W 42-25
  • #4 Georgia W 37-10
  • #6 Oklahoma W 63-28
  • #7 Florida W 42-28
  • #8 Alabama W 46-41

Throw in a win over 14th ranked Auburn and it is even more impressive.

I leave it to others to debate best of all time but five wins over top 10 teams is certainly unprecedented.

Does college football have a rules problem and need to make changes?

Two calls during the playoffs have stirred up the debate over what should be the threshold for targeting, and whether or not ejecting players from the game is the right move.

Ohio State safety Shaun Wade was ejected for his helmet to helmet hit on Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.  This hit is exactly what they are trying to legislate out of the game. Buckeye fans screamed foul because Lawrence lowered his head at the last minute but helmet to helmet hits on a quarterback can simply not be allowed.

Photo courtesy of totalprosports.com.

Here we see a hit by Clemson linebacker Jamie Skalski on an LSU wide receiver that got him ejected from the National Championship game. The major difference here is that while Skalski led with his helmet, the contact was not with the head of the offensive player. Instead, he hit him in the shoulder.

Photo courtesy LSU Wire.

Should either of these plays get the player ejected? Fans will debate on this topic but I don’t think there will be the same level of debate by college football rule-makers. They want to do their best to make the game safer. In the future, even more kinds of hits will be made illegal.

Thanks for reading this season, it has been a great one. Here is your final Top 25:

  1. LSU (15-0) Greatest team ever?
  2. Clemson (14-1) Won 29 straight before falling in the title game.
  3. Ohio State (13-1) Justin Fields returns but lots of talent headed to the NFL.
  4. Oregon (12-2) Closed with wins over Utah and Wisconsin.
  5. Georgia (12-2) Getting whipped by LSU in the SEC Championship seems a lot more reasonable after watching the Tigers in the playoffs.
  6. Oklahoma (12-2) Will need to find a new QB again next year.
  7. Florida (11-2) Picked them to lose Orange Bowl in upset. Great job by the Gators as they did not fall into that trap.
  8. Penn State (11-2) Handled Memphis in the Cotton Bowl by scoring 53.
  9. Alabama (11-2) Love how Nick Saban had his team focused in Orlando as they defeated Michigan.
  10. Minnesota (11-2) Closed with great win over Auburn.
  11. Baylor (11-3) Fascinated to see who will replace Matt Rhule.
  12. Notre Dame (11-2) Lost the two big-time games they played (UGA, Michigan).
  13. Wisconsin (10-4) Big wins, but lost last two (Ohio State, Oregon).
  14. Memphis (12-2) Scored a ton but gave up more points in the Cotton Bowl.
  15. Auburn (9-4) Another less than 10 win season on the Plains.
  16. Appalachian State (13-1) Have to replace their head coach–again.
  17. Utah (11-3) Lost last two, including versus Texas, a team the Utes should have handled.
  18. Iowa (10-3) Surprised they won bowl game over USC.
  19. Michigan (9-4) Harbaugh may need to go back to the pros. What he’s doing just isn’t working.
  20. Air Force (11-2) Option team that could actually pass the ball.
  21. Boise State (12-2) Getting blown out by Washington should not erase an excellent season.
  22. Cincinnati (11-3) Took Boston College to the woodshed after two straight losses to Memphis.
  23. Navy (11-2) Came up with a thrilling bowl win over Kansas State.
  24. UCF (10-3) All losses by less than a touchdown.
  25. Texas A&M (8-5) Losses: LSU, Clemson, UGA, Alabama, Auburn. All of those are top 15 teams.

 

Reach Mike Synan at mike.synan@floridadaily.com.

 

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