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Florida's Cupcake Diet Should Make Gators Fans Sick

Sep 6, 2009 – 12:28 AM
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David Whitley

David Whitley %BloggerTitle%

Riley CooperGAINESVILLE, Fla. – Florida receiver Riley Cooper caught his fifth pass in about 49 seconds, ran to the sideline and puked.

It must have been from eating all those cupcakes.

Florida devoured one by the name of Charleston Southern on Saturday. The only thing more predictable was that 90,000 fans would get on their usual sugar high and not complain at the gluttony.

Don't these people ever get fed up?

I think the No. 1 team in the nation had every right to schedule the No. 2,398 team. I just wish that once, just once, the Gators would do us all a favor. Schedule a ranked non-conference school that has a weight room.

"Our guys didn't flinch," coach Jay Mills said. "They went eyeball to eyeball."

Give the Buccaneers credit for their vision in holding Florida to 62 points. But how sweet would it have been to see Tim Tebow U. play USC or Virginia Tech on Saturday?

With all due disrespect to Bill Snyder and Kansas State, Florida may be the biggest cupcake collector in college football history. Is that any way for the sport's current marquee program to act?

Yes and no.

The niggling details are that Florida has to fill seven home games every year. It's hard to do that if you start playing schools that demand a return engagement at their place. And the only schools that are just happy to be at Florida Field are the cupcakes.

Then there's the fact that 90,000 fans would show up if the Gators were playing the Barbizon Hair College, which I think they are in 2017.

Florida can also point to its always-brutal SEC schedule. Throw in the traditional game against FSU that the Gators can't get out of, and they have nothing to apologize for when it comes to strength of schedule.

But I'm not talking overall strength. I'm talking about occasionally throwing college football fans a juicy bone.

Georgia has the same scheduling considerations as Florida, but the Bulldogs went to Oklahoma State on Saturday. Alabama took on Virginia Tech in Atlanta. LSU went all the way to Washington .

If those teams think they had it tough, they should have tried covering a 63-point spread.
The Buccaneers would not succumb. Maybe next time the Los Angeles Times won't refer to them as Southern Charleston. In retaliation, the Charleston paper should have called USC "Cal Southern."

"Tonight was very fun. That's the best way I can say it," quarterback A.J. Toscano said. "No one on our team has played, I have never played in a stadium with as close to as many people in the stadium."

The Bucs got $450,000 for their fun. The Gators got to play fourth-teamers and enhance a post-War tradition.

Before World War II, Florida played 17 road games against non-conference schools. That was back when teams had to take trains, propeller plans and automobiles to games.

As jet travel evolved, the Gators apparently developed Shy Bowel Syndrome. They stopped venturing more than a few yards away from the familiar toilets of Florida Field.

Since World War II they have played 10 -- yes 10 -- road games against non-conference teams. And it's not as if the home schedule has been laden with Michigans and Penn States . Though there have been plenty of Eastern Michigans and New Mexico States .

All this comes with one qualifier. We're excluding Florida State, simply because the Gators have to play the Seminoles. Even then, it took a threat from the state legislature for Florida to start playing FSU in 1958.

If the Gators could get out of that one now, they would. Just as they ducked out of their series with Miami in the early 1980s.

That earned Florida the nickname "Chicken Gators." I don't think Florida's scared to play anybody. It's just more, shall we say, risk-averse than most big-time schools.

"It wasn't about who we were playing," Urban Meyer said. "It was about playing the best we can."

Florida fans have been hearing that kind of post-game evaluation for so long they don't know what they're missing. They should start demanding a little more bang for their season-ticket bucks, or at least ask fans at LSU what it's like to venture west of the Mississippi .

"It was great start to the season," John Brantley said.

Maybe if you're Tebow's backup, which Brantley is. He went in the middle of the second quarter when it was 42-3. That meant Florida had achieved its main goal of keeping Tebow healthy.

Oklahoma wasn't so fortunate. It lost Sam Bradford and lost to BYU. When Meyer heard that after the game, he just raised an eyebrow. That's what those Sooners get for taking on a real team.

But injuries can happen just as easily against Southern Charleston, not to mention Charleston Southern. So why not play a team that can also hurt your record?

I know, I know. Because of scheduling problems and the SEC mine field and blah, blah, blah.

"We still need to go one game at a time," linebacker Brandon Spikes said.

Yeah, while USC is playing Ohio State next week, the Gators will be playing Troy and Florida Field will again be packed.

Doesn't anybody around here ever get hungry for a real non-conference meal?

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