Will Muschamp and the Gators have had close calls with lower-level teams. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
The Associated Press
Published: August 30, 2013
Updated: August 31, 2013 at 02:17 AM
GAINESVILLE — No. 10 Florida ought to be on upset alert. Toledo has played in three consecutive bowl games and has seven wins against ranked teams, including one against No. 21 Cincinnati last season. Arguably more important is how the Gators have fared against teams outside the power conferences the past two years. That history shows the Rockets, a 24-point underdog heading into today’s opener, have a chance in The Swamp.
Florida trailed lower-division Furman 22-7 in the second quarter before rallying in 2011. Will Muschamp’s team wasn’t a whole lot better last year. The Gators were tied with Bowling Green at 14 in the third quarter to open the season before scoring 13 consecutive points. Florida endured an even closer call against Louisiana last November. Tied at 20 in the final minute, Loucheiz Purifoy blocked a punt and teammate Jelani Jenkins returned it 36 yards for a touchdown with 2 seconds remaining to pull out a victory. “There’s definitely no easy game,” Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel said. “You can’t just roll your helmet out and win. “We had a couple close ones, and we’re hoping not to have that again.”
Toledo, which was picked to finish second in the Mid-American Conference’s West Division, is 1-6 against teams ranked in the top 10. The lone win came against Pittsburgh in 2003. The Rockets finished last season with an offense that ranked 32nd in the nation, 71 spots higher than Florida. “(They are) a lot better than we want them to be,” Gators linebacker Ronald Powell said. Toledo isn’t lacking confidence, either. “When you go into an atmosphere like that, it’s you and your brothers, and your backs are against the wall,” senior running back David Fluellen said. “We’re just trying to prove the Rockets are for real and we can compete with any team in the country.”