GAINESVILLE -- After weeks of questionable bluster and bravado, the Gators have officially resigned to reality.
Following Saturday’s 23-20 loss to Georgia, the Gators finally stopped talking about their long-shot Southeastern Conference Championship aspirations.
There will be no trip to Atlanta. No snapping a two-game losing streak to a division archrival and — with a date looming with No. 2 Florida State — likely no winning any state bragging rights.
The 2013 season is lost for the once-mighty Gators, and a proud program is now in the desperate position of having to beat Vanderbilt on homecoming to probably reach bowl eligibility.
Just a year removed from an 11-1 regular season and BCS berth, coach Will Muschamp’s team is reeling and simply playing for pride now.
“We’re going to fight until the last game of the season,” redshirt junior tailback Mack Brown said. “No quit.”
The Gators (4-4, 3-3 SEC) — on a three-game losing streak for the second time in three seasons — must win twice in their remaining four games just to reach bowl eligibility.
Florida hosts Vanderbilt on Saturday before traveling to No. 12 South Carolina. The Gators finish the season in The Swamp against FCS Georgia Southern (Nov. 19) and the suddenly unstoppable Seminoles (Nov. 26).
Quarterback Tyler Murphy said the season “stinks,” and that he never imagined the year unraveling so quickly.
“We’ll do our best and try and knock everybody else off,” Murphy said dejectedly Saturday.
Muschamp believes his team won’t quit — and a valiant second-half comeback against the Bulldogs is at least the first indicator.
The Gators, according to Muschamp, will rally around the orange and blue.
“They’re upset and hurt, but we’ll rebound and be fine,” Muschamp said.
“You rally around the fact that your play at the University of Florida. It’s a great place to play football. You have a very close locker room, and guys play for each other. That’s a lot for those guys. They understand that. It’s frustrating and they’re down and they hurt, but at the end of the day guys got a lot of pride and they’re competitors. They’re going to go out and compete, and they’re going to play well.”
Murphy echoed Muschamp’s message, saying, “There’s no team out there I’d rather be a part of than this 4-4 team.”
But for a second November in three years, Florida is resigned to silver linings and moral victories and no longer talking about going to Atlanta.