12:33 AM EST, November 25, 2012
TALLAHASSEE — Will Muschamp gave a wink to a nearby writer as if to say, "Watch this" — and then he looked dead into the ABC TV cameras after Saturday's resounding, rock-pounding 37-26 victory over Florida State and said, "We are a SEXY football team that oughta be playing for the national title."
It was Muschamp's way of poking and prodding the nattering nabobs of negativity who have continuously criticized the Gators for not winning pretty enough. And he's right. Not only did the No. 4-ranked Gators decisively and defiantly state their case for the BCS championship game, I'm here to tell you that if given the chance they would've somehow, some way found a way to win the dadgum thing if they could only play in it. That's who these guys are and how they roll. They almost always find a way. It's why they've beaten four teams ranked among the top 12 in the current BCS standings. Even in their lone loss — a mistake-prone, six-turnover loss to Georgia — they were within a late goal-line fumble of a potential game-tying touchdown.
And wouldn't you know it? A team that has bumfuzzled us all year by winning ugly saved the best for last and pulled off a victory Saturday more beautiful than Kate Upton in a fishnet bikini running toward you in slow motion, carrying a plateful of chicken wings and a six pack of Heineken.
"This was a really sexy win," a smiling Muschamp said at his postgame news conference. "In fact, I was going to come in here with my shirt off, but the players did not want me to do that. Come on, our résumé speaks for itself. You guys have covered the SEC. You've seen where we've played, who we've played and the quality of football teams we've beaten. We'll play anyone anywhere."
The Gators just won't be playing for a national title in Miami. Notre Dame, Alabama and Georgia wins Saturday effectively locked UF out of the game.
Those who have said the Gators are the most overrated team in the country owe Muschamp and his team an apology just as FSU coach Jimbo Fisher owes the BCS computers an apology. Fisher has railed that his team is not ranked nearly high enough by the computers and then Saturday went out and proved the electronic brains right.
The Gators didn't just beat favored FSU on its homefield; they treated the Seminoles like the doorman at Best Buy at the commencement of Black Friday. They stomped on their faces, trampled them and even left tread marks.
Once again, the SEC spread its wings of dominance and overshadowed the ACC's big party next week. Actually, you could say, the SEC ruined the ACC's big party. After what transpired Saturday — FSU getting pounded by UF and Georgia Tech getting trounced 42-10 by Georgia — next week's ACC championship game seems more like a funeral procession.
"Welcome to the SEC," Florida center Jonotthan Harrison chided downtrodden FSU fans as he and his teammates celebrated near game's end.
It's clear that FSU, after a season playing against an ACC bakery case filled with cupcakes and moonpies, wasn't ready for big-boy SEC football. The Gators briefly knocked FSU quarterback EJ Manuel out of the game, they forced five turnovers and their previously punchless offense pulverized FSU's vaunted defense.
Florida's offense came in ranked 104th in the nation and FSU's defense came in ranked No. 1, but it was almost like those rankings should have been reversed. The Gators pounded FSU's defense for 244 rushing yards, including 140 by Mike Gillislee, who became the first UF back since 2004 to run for more than 1,000 yards in a season.
"We wanted to bang on them and wear them down," said Muschamp, whose team is only the fifth in school history to win at least 11 games. "Florida State doesn't face many two-back, power running teams in their league. It's a lot of that one-back stuff. … We pride ourselves on being a physical team."
Translation: The ACC is a league full of wusscakes.
Hard to believe it was last year after the Gators lost 21-7 to FSU that Muschamp stood up at his post-game news conference and called his team "soft." Even harder to believe that it was two years ago in Tallahassee, after the Gators were routed 31-7 by Florida State, that former coach Urban Meyer declared the UF football program to be "broken."
The Gators are no longer soft and they're no longer broken.
They are tough and they are fixed.
And you know what else?
They're pretty darn sexy, too.
Too bad they won't get a chance to prove they are national championship sexy.
firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at BianchiWrites. Listen to his radio show every weekday from 6 to 9 a.m. on 740-AM.