The Florida Gators spent the 2012 season working their way up the college football rankings. However, this season the team will start near the top after being slotted at No. 10 in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll released Thursday.
Florida entered the 2012 season as the No. 23 ranked-team following a 7-6 season in 2011. But after an 11-2 finish in Will Muschamp’s second year as head coach, the team enters 2013 with championship expectations. The last time Florida entered the season ranked this high was in 2010, when the team opened up at No. 4 in the polls in then head coach Urban Meyer’s final season at UF.
The Gators will be joined in the preseason top 10 by four other SEC teams. To no one’s surprise the defending National Champion Alabama Crimson Tide enter the season as the No. 1 ranked team. Georgia (No. 5), Texas A&M (No. 6) and South Carolina (No. 7) are also in the top 10.
Florida will play four teams ranked in the preseason top 25 — No. 5 Georgia, No. 7 South Carolina, No. 12 Florida State and No. 13 LSU. That should provide the Gators with plenty of opportunities to validate that No. 10 ranking, as well as plenty of chances to move up in the rankings and into the National Championship conversation, provided it wins.
Although it is great that the Gators open the season in the top 10, we should not forget that this is only one preseason poll. In the grand scheme of the season it is not really a big deal. As Florida showed last season, a team can start the season off at the lower end of the polls and if it wins then it can easily work its way up.
As the cliché goes, “It’s not about where you start, but where you finish.”