The prospect of reaching the College Football Playoff isn’t really on the mind of Florida head coach Dan Mullen as he prepares his team to take on No. 1 Alabama in the SEC title game.
But it will enter his mind after the Gators pull off the upset on Saturday night, Mullen said. Yes, he really said that.
“We'll think about that on Saturday night after we win,” Mullen told reporters Thursday.
To be fair, it was hardly a guarantee of victory from Mullen. He was asked if his team would deserve a spot in the four-team playoff if it beats Alabama, despite having two losses.
“I think LSU made it when there were only two teams with two losses, if I'm not mistaken. Does that sound about right? It was back in one of those years with the BCS. I thought they had two losses. Maybe I'm off on that one,” Mullen said. “We'll worry about winning on Saturday night because that's all we can control. What happens after that, we'll see what happens next.”
Florida dropped just one spot to No. 7 in the College Football Playoff rankings on Tuesday night despite losing at home to an undermanned LSU team to fall to 8-2 on the year. Many expected the Gators to fall further in the rankings, but they are still within striking distance of a playoff berth.
Mullen said the strength of the SEC — and the amount of games SEC teams have played — could have accounted for his team dropping just one place.
“I think it showed respect for us and for this league, the qualities of the opponents in this league, the grind and the demand of playing, this is our 11th SEC game in a season. I think that's certainly a challenge. Other conferences haven't been through that,” Mullen said.
Mullen said he wasn’t trying to “knock” other teams, but then said that a team that has only played six or seven games is going to be “fresher,” “healthier” and “probably have more depth” at this point in the season. No. 4 Ohio State, of course, has played just five games entering Saturday’s Big Ten title game.
“I think everybody that knows the game of football understands that, people that really know the game of football understand that,” Mullen said. “That would be my guess. I don't know. That would be a question for the committee.”
Later, Mullen said it would be “hard to say that the SEC champion doesn’t” belong in the College Football Playoff.
“This is our third top-10 game of the year. This is Alabama's third top-10 game of the year off current rankings,” Mullen said. “I don't know other people that are on game number three of top-10 teams in other leagues.”
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