In year one under Dan Mullen, the No. 10 Florida Gators (9-3, 5-3) have exceeded expectations in Gainesville coming off of a four-win a season a year ago.
On Saturday, the Gators have a showdown with the No. 7 Michigan Wolverines (10-2, 8-1) in the 2018 Chic Fil-A Peach Bowl and have a tremendous opportunity to grow the Gator brand.
The program is trending in the right direction after a successful transitional year and senior offensive tackle Martez Ivey spoke about what it would mean for this team to capture their first ever Peach Bowl title.
“Big time. You know, in my Florida career, it would be a huge W. It would mean a lot to me. Also, a great start for coach Mullen. Turning this team from 4-8 to you know, potentially 10-3. It would be big for me and also the program.”
The rebuild hasn’t been gorgeous, with losses to Kentucky and Missouri at home. However, for a team that’s gone bowl-less twice in the last five seasons, the Gators can enter the 2019 off-season with a ton of momentum while riding a four-game win streak.
Junior defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, who’s already declared for the draft, gave his thoughts on what this win would mean for Mullen and this football team.
"It would be big. We had one bad year. It was hard for us last year, but coach Mullen came in and changed the culture of the team. Everybody dialed in. It took us some time, because we didn't know what to expect. But he did a great job. We're back at the top and we're looking next year to keep going and keep fighting to be No. 1."
Despite the rollercoaster ride during the 2018 season, there seems to be no bigger moment than this one right in front of this team. For the third time in four years (Michigan is 3-0), these two powerhouse programs will collide.
However, this Florida team is different. A lot of familiar faces, but a ton of disparity between the 2017 and 2018 teams as a whole, especially within the effort department.
Ivey gave his thoughts on the difference between the two teams under Jim McElwain and Dan Mullen.
“It’s definitely more different, more physical, more prepared, more aware. There’s a hunger out there. We want to go out and win. We want to go out and give our best. We want to live up to that Gator standard. That’s how we practice and that's how we’re going to play. We came out and execute, do our assignments, do our jobs, and that’s about it.”
The quest to regain order back in the Southeastern Conference is difficult, but as each day goes by for Florida, this football team seems to be on the right path in rebuilding the Gator brand.