The Florida Gators were picked to finish fifth in the SEC East and were a preseason 18-1 long shot to win the conference championship.
But after Saturday’s 9-7 win over Vanderbilt, No. 11 UF (8-1, 6-1) will (most likely) play Alabama or LSU for a shot at an SEC title in Jim McElwain’s first season at the helm.
“I don’t think there were a lot of you that probably thought we would be in this position right now,” Florida’s first-year coach said, chuckling. “I’m kind of excited about this new challenge and the uncharted waters that we’re in. You know it’s really about discovery for a program that should be here in this position every year.”
The Gators never won the SEC East in four seasons under Will Muschamp, but Auburn’s defensive coordinator told reporters Sunday, “I’m extremely happy for those guys. Jim has done a fantastic job.”
Muschamp, 29-21 at UF, said he congratulated his former players via text, adding, “I said it was a good locker room when I left, and I meant it. The foundation was set.”
THIS & THAT
Left tackle David Sharpe is day-to-day with a foot injury. The sophomore continues to nurse the strain, and didn’t start for the first time all season against Vandy. “He played in the second half, not very effectively,” McElwain said. “Yet he went in there and scrapped pretty good.” … UF’s Nov. 21 game against Florida Atlantic is slated for a noon kickoff on the SEC Network, the league announced Monday.