GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- It wasn’t expected to happen this quickly, but Florida is back in the national-championship hunt.
In fact, the Gators are one of the favorites.
Florida came in at No. 2 in the first BCS standings that were released Sunday night. The Gators are behind only No. 1 Alabama. Oregon, Kansas State and Notre Dame round out the top five.
The Gators (6-0, 5-0 SEC) are No. 2 because they are No. 1 in the average of the six computer polls that make up one-third of the BCS formula. UF came in at No. 2 or No. 1 in five of the six computer rankings and No. 5 in the other. The lowest and highest rankings are dropped and the remaining four rankings are added and divided by 100. Strength of schedule is factored into each of the computer rankings.
The Gators are No. 3 in the Harris Interactive College Football Poll (up from No. 6 the previous week) and No. 4 in the USA Today coaches’ poll, which are the other two pieces of the BCS standings formula.
Florida’s resume includes three solid victories:
at Texas A&M (No. 18 in the BCS);
at home over LSU (No. 6 in the BCS).
UF still has regular-season games remaining against three more teams in the top 15 of the BCS standings:
South Carolina (No. 7);
Georgia (No. 11)
Florida State (No. 14).
The Gators can win the SEC’s Eastern Division by beating the Gamecocks and Bulldogs in the next two weeks, which would set up a likely showdown with Alabama in the SEC Championship Game.
UF also has games against Missouri, Louisiana-Lafayette and Jacksonville State.
The Gators weren’t expected to be a national-championship contender in 2012 after going a combined 15-11 in the past two seasons, including 7-6 in 2011 in coach Will Muschamp’s first season. But the Gators have become one of the nation’s best teams behind a stout defense, RB Mike Gillislee, and the surprising development of QB Jeff Driskel.