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Dan Mullen’s Gators at the first crossroads of his Gainesville tenure

Dan Mullen

Saturday’s game against South Carolina is a big one for Dan Mullen and the Gators.

A season that started off so promising with a 6-1 record has made a drastic turn for the worse in the past two weeks. This game is a chance to stop the bleeding, or further deepen a sudden sense of panic.

Six-and-three is a far cry from 6-1. Gone is optimism surrounding Feleipe Franks. Gone is the opportunity to play in a New Year’s Six bowl game.

Now, the Gators have enjoyed success in Mullen’s first-year. With road victories over Tennessee, Mississippi State, and Vanderbilt, plus that memorable home win over LSU, there have been building blocks established for the Florida football program.

Events of the last two weeks, however, blowout losses to both Georgia and Missouri, make it easy to forget the progress and highlight the bad. And make no mistake about it, the last two weeks have seen a lot of bad surrounding the Gators.

At 6-3, the Gators are probably where most fans fans expected they would be after nine games before the season started… and look who is coming to town.

Will Muschamp was fired at Florida following the 2014 season. His four-year run saw three of those seasons feature at least five losses. Muschamp finished with a record of 28-21 in his tenure at Florida which included a 17-15 record against SEC opponents.

Many Gator fans were happy to show Muschamp the door, but as the failed tenure of Jim McElwain played out, it proved a classic case of, “be careful what you wish for.”

Muschamp has now been the head coach of South Carolina for nearly three seasons after getting the job prior to the 2016 season. In that time, he has compiled a record of 20-14, including a nine-win campaign last season.

Muschamp and the Gamecocks beat Florida last season 28-20. It must have felt like sweet revenge for Muschamp – beating a team that fired him less than three years prior.

That brings us back to this Saturday. South Carolina is coming off a come-from-behind win on the road at Ole Miss, while Florida enters on a two-game losing streak. South Carolina has won two in a row and three of the past four games this season, so the momentum will certainly be on its side Saturday.

A win Saturday for the Gators may not seem like that big of a deal, but 7-3 would feel a world away from 6-4 with a three game losing streak, and a two game losing streak to a coach you recently fired.

Florida has more to lose than gain Saturday. The Gators are favored and playing at home. They should win and a win will not erase the bad taste from fans mouths about the puzzling Missouri debacle. Another loss and it will appear as though the sky is falling.

On the surface, there doesn’t seem to be a big difference between 7-3 and 6-4, but given the circumstances on Saturday, there will be a gigantic difference in the eyes of Gator fans.

(You can follow Ryan Green on Twitter @RyanGreen1010XL)

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