I've seen a lot of people with cavalier attitudes regarding the importance of the Florida-LSU game to Florida. "Oh sure," they say, "Florida can lose this game and it won't matter because they can still go to the national title game." While I tend to agree that it will be tough to keep a one-loss SEC team out of the national title game, I don't think it's quite so cut and dried thanks to the Gators' schedule:
- Charleston Southern: Meaningless.
- Troy: Cupcake.
- Tennessee: Still rebuilding and staring down a 2-6 conference season right now.
- Kentucky: Not going to finish ranked.
- LSU: A high quality team.
- Arkansas: Still rebuilding thanks to not having a defense.
- Mississippi State: Frisky, but still a bad team.
- Georgia: Not great, but has a chance to finish the year ranked.
- Vanderbilt: Back to being bad again.
- South Carolina: Looking better, but no lock to finish ranked.
- FIU: Cupcake.
- Florida State: A sinking ship.
Florida's schedule right now only has one team on it that appears to be something of a lock to finish the year ranked: LSU. Georgia probably will, but it's no guarantee thanks to the Bulldogs' inconsistency and the wave of injuries that has begun to strike again. South Carolina is a maybe too, but they can't be trusted until they prove they won't collapse in November again.
It's possible that if the Gators lose to LSU but still win the conference that the SEC Championship Game opponent will be the only ranked team they will have defeated, or at least the only top-15 or 20 team they will have defeated. In this weird season that, combined with the SEC's reputation, may be enough to get the Gators to Pasadena, but voters are fickle and the computers don't like weak schedules.
The best bet, as always, is to just win them all.