Friday, October 10, 2008

Why does 31 feel so much older than 30?

For those of you that don't know, I'm turned 31 today. As luck would have it my birthday always falls within a few days of the annual Florida-LSU football game. A game that has become increasingly important nationally in recent years. When I was a student at UF, the Gators usually dominated LSU, and then as Saban brought the Tigers back to prominence and Towlie (aka Zook) did his best to destroy Florida's program one heartbreaking loss at a time the pendulum swung the other way. However, in recent years this game has become one of the highlights of the SEC schedule. A inter-division battle that takes place every single year (each SEC team only plays one opposite division opponent each and every year with the other two games rotating every two years) between two of the conference's highest profile programs. In terms of hype and talent level, you can't ask for much more than this game provides. Plus, there really no conference that can compare to the SEC...dont' believe me? Name another conference where they fire offensive coordinators 5 games into their career. The fact that this year's game features each of the last two National Champions only serves to increase the level of anticipation amongst college football fans.

So when it came time to decide what I wanted to do for my birthday, well, it wasn't a very hard decision. Let's go to Gainesville, lets get blind drunk for a few days and lets hope Florida can beat LSU in the Swamp. This game being a night game in the Swamp is just icing on the cake. There is nothing, nothing that I enjoy more than big games in the Swamp at night. The atmosphere is electric, the air is crisp and, more often than not, the games are unreal.

Of course, this year's game has taken on even more importance after Florida's loss to Ole Miss a couple of weeks ago. In order to keep pace in the SEC East, Florida must win on Saturday. At this point, Florida stills controls its own destiny in the conference title chase. However, a loss to LSU would leave Florida in a position of having to win out and hope that teams like UGA and Vandy (I know, I can't believe I just typed that either) take another loss. Simply put, Florida's season is on the line. Not only that but Florida's season is on the line against a team whose biggest strength (D-Line) happens to line up against what, up until now, has been Florida's biggest weakness (O-Line, specifically the interior).

Florida's has had trouble keeping Miami and Ole Miss' defenses out of its backfield thus far this season and neither of those defenses come close to matching the talent level or depth of LSU. On top of that, Florida will be starting a 3rd string guard (who's really a tackle) this weekend in Carl Johnson. If you were Ricky Jean-Francois and you knew all this, wouldn't you be talking a little smack too? As often is the case in tightly contested SEC games, this game will come down to the trenches. Can Florida give Tebow enough time to run the zone read, as well as find men downfield in the passing game? Can the Gator defense stop Charles Scott and the rest of the LSU tailbacks from running wild and force freshman QB Jarrett Lee into obvious passing situations? Finally, can the Gators grind out the tough inside yardage that has been harder to come by this year than any year since Tebow stepped on campus?

To be perfectly honest, I have my doubts. LSU is a tough team to try and "get right" against any year, but especially this year with the talent they possess along the D-Line and at the offensive skill positions (Demetrius Byrd is the most underrated WR in the SEC, possibly the country) this year. However, Florida's back is against the wall and they'll be playing at home in front of a packed house at 8 pm. Nothing is out of the realm of possibility here. This game could define this season and, to a degree, Tebow's legacy as a Florida QB (The Heisman is great but he needs to win a SEC Championship to truly cement his legacy in this program) or it could end up exposing Florida as a flawed team who will lose 3-4 games this year. I dont have a damn clue which way this will go. I'm just glad I'll be there in person to find out.

Oh yeah, Happy Birthday to me. I may be old, short and bald but at least I'm not as old as Whitney or as short as Rob.

7 comments:

Geoff said...

The only person I could think of who is as old as Whit and as short as rob: Mickey Rooney

rob said...

whit's pretty bald, too.

TJ said...

Yoda?

Jerry said...

It's a toss up. It's exciting. I'm excited.

TJ said...

Oh boy:

http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/27119406/

TJ said...

So glad ESPN brought in Jim Ross to break down the Red River Rivalry.

TJ said...

Chan Ho Park. I mean, what more can be said?