Phil Steele is a man whose college football opinions matter. He is a man that people listen to when he talks. As a result one of his comments on a recent episode of The RoundTable radio show has made some waves in the college football community.
One of the topics up for discussion was Florida. Steele then pegged the Gators as his favorite choice as a surprise team to rise up the rankings and be a National Title contender by the end of the season. The criteria Steele was working with was that the team in question could not be in the top 10 as a preseason choice.
“This is a non-Top 10 team, and Florida will not be in the Top 10 this (preseason), I think can win the national title,” Steele said on the air. “Go back to last year, for example, Washington was coming off a 7-6 season, I had them as my No. 1 surprise team in the country. Non-Top 10 (preseason) team, made the Playoffs and had their shot at the end.
“When I look at Florida this year, here’s what I like about them, start on the defensive side of the ball. These guys are always good on defense, right? Well last year they lost quite a few guys to injury in the second half of the year, they had to play a lot of freshmen, guys like Jabari Zuniga up front at the defensive end spot, they gained experience. So even though they lose a lot of talented players off the defense, a lot of guys only started seven or eight games. They have a lot of the guys that gained experience back, I think they’ll be strong.”
Steele goes on to mention a number of other reasons why he thinks Florida could be the team to face, and beat, Alabama in the SEC Title game this fall. One reason that certainly worthy of mention is a schedule that sees the Gators play just three true road games. That those three road games are at Missouri, South Carolina, and Kentucky only serves to increase the chances that Florida will make it to Atlanta for the third consecutive season.