The danger for Florida in this week's game against Tennessee was that they wouldn't be able to match the hype, that they would fall short of the lofty expectations of winning by several TDs and silencing Lane Kiffin. Wouldn't you know, that's exactly what happened.
Make no mistake about it -- as they say, a win is a win is a win. Florida's quest to go undefeated and win back-to-back national titles remains on track after taking care of Tennessee. And a 10-point conference victory is nothing to be scoffed at.
But the Gators were far from dominating Saturday's game. It wasn't like there was ever any doubt about who was going to win -- other than having tied the score for about five minutes early on, the Vols never came close to taking the lead. It was a solid, unspectacular win, something that is only disappointing if you expect to set your opponent ablaze in response to his cheeky comments.
Consider that Florida only gained 322 yards of total offense in this game; that Tim Tebow didn't throw for a single TD; that no Gator had even 30 yards receiving. Tell me that's what you expected in this game, and I'll either call you clairvoyant or a liar, depending on your evidence.
A good deal of the credit goes to the Tennessee defense. Monte Kiffin showed that his NFL pedigree will not prove an impediment to stopping college offenses like the spread. Tebow was often under pressure or under wraps, limiting his ability to make plays, and none of the other Gator stars were able to step up to their normal level of production in big games.
There's not a column for moral victories in the standings, and Tennessee still has several teams on the schedule that are more than willing to deliver the blowout Florida couldn't if they get the opportunity. There was, after all, nothing in Saturday's game that would lead one to believe that the Vols have fixed any of their many problems on offense. Jonathan Crompton completed just a bit more than half his passes and threw two interceptions while Tennessee gained only 210 total yards.
But Florida lost a little bit of its aura of inevitability in this game. And not just because of Lane Kiffin's insufferable mouth -- put simply, Florida should be better than Tennessee no matter what the Vols coach said. Maybe they were just trying too hard; in fact, that has to be what the Gators faithful are hoping for tonight.
Because otherwise, there just might be a blueprint for containing Florida on defense. And there might be a team with a functioning offense that's reading it.