The original visceral appeal of becoming a Florida fan was the expectations -- win or failure.
The past two seasons, that eroded. The frustrating Addazio offense of that final pitiful year of the Meyer Era begat the frustrating Weis offense of that first frustrating year of the Muschamp Era.
Yesterday, as I danced around the living room with my 6-month-old daughter accompanying every productive Florida play throughout that staggeringly effective second half in the win over LSU, I felt a jubilation that I hadn't since the night Florida beat Oklahoma for the national title.
It wasn't just because of the stout effort against a formidable opponent. It was because I felt the return of those "win or failure" expectations.
Those renewed expectations will make any loss on the 2012 schedule all the more painful -- South Carolina in two weeks at The Swamp suddenly has me very nervous -- but I would rather feel let-down because I expected too much than let-down because I expected too little.
Speaking of "win or fail": Florida State, suddenly entirely out of the national-title picture and irrelevant on the national scene for the rest of 2012. Congrats to NC State fans on a signature win.
And suddenly South Carolina is in "win or fail" territory: They have to beat a wounded and angry LSU team in Death Valley next Saturday, then beat a surging Florida team in Gainesville the Saturday after that, then fend of Clemson and THEN topple Alabama in the SEC title game. But after last night, it feels possible -- which is a hell of a statement.
Meanwhile: West Virginia staked its claim as the best of the Big 12 and as one of the four teams that would qualify for a mythical four-team college football playoff. They waltzed into DKR and steamrolled a Texas defense that even WVU doubters will acknowledge was much, much better than Baylor's. Is WVU's defense still suspect? Sure. Does it matter if they keep out-scoring their opponents? Not at all. I tabbed WVU as Big 12 champs in the preseason -- feeling very good about that now. The only question is how we could be denied a WVU-Oregon bowl game. Rather than see Oregon get shellacked by Alabama, couldn't we just line them up against the 'Eers for the most entertaining single-game match-up in the sport's history?
Early BlogPoll Top 25 ballot: (1) Alabama, (2) Oregon, (3) West Virginia, (4) South Carolina, (5) Florida, (6) K-State, (7) Ohio St, (8) Notre Dame, (9) Oklahoma, (10) LSU.
And a few quick notes about the MLB playoffs:
*Does Justin Verlander beat the A's in front of the rabid fans of Oakland if the LDS round had a proper home-field advantage? Maybe, maybe not. But in Detroit, he cruises and Oakland will find itself unable to dig out of an 0-2 hole if they lose today.
*The Reds' path to victory in Game 1 was non-traditional to say the least, but fascinating -- Cueto out (but possibly available for Game 3), substitutes in... a victory follows. It's almost like the Giants were more thrown off than Cincy.
*Let's go O's. Can't believe anyone outside of Yankee Nation wouldn't be pulling like crazy for Baltimore.
*And please: Let's go Nats. If they lose this opener in St. Louis, suddenly the decision to sit Stephen Strasburg will be under a lot more pressure.