UF atop SEC East

Gators' confidence at a high after defeating LSU Tigers on Saturday

Updated: October 7, 2012, 5:09 PM ET
By Michael DiRocco | GatorNation

GAINESVILLE, Fla.  Those aren't typos.

That is Florida sitting atop the Southeastern Conference's Eastern Division and ranked No. 4 in the Associated Press Top 25.

[+] EnlargeWill Muschamp
AP Photo/John RaouxWill Muschamp admitted Florida's win against LSU was big, but he knows there is still work to be done.
The Gators in control of their own destiny in the SEC race, thanks to their victory over LSU and South Carolina's rout of Georgia on Saturday -- and their final four conference games require them to leave their home state just once, traveling this week to face the Vanderbilt Commodores.

"I know we're going to go out of hand with this," UF coach Will Muschamp said moments after the Gators outmuscled the Tigers 14-6 at Florida Field. "This is one win. It doesn't count for one-and-a-half and it doesn't count for two. We have a huge challenge in front of us next Saturday night in Nashville against a very well-coached team."

Actually, Florida has a huge challenge ahead of itself over the next month. The Gators' road to the Eastern Division title is the toughest of the three competitors. The Gators' final four SEC opponents have a combined overall record of 16-7 (.695) and a combined SEC record of 8-6 (.571). In addition to Vanderbilt, UF still has games against South Carolina (Oct. 20), Georgia (Oct. 27) and Missouri (Nov. 3) remaining.

South Carolina's remaining four opponents (LSU, Florida, Tennessee and Arkansas) are a combined 15-7 (.682) overall and 6-5 (.545) in the SEC. The Gamecocks (6-0, 4-0) play their two toughest opponents (LSU and UF) on the road.

Georgia (5-1, 3-1) has the easiest schedule remaining. The Bulldogs' remaining four opponents are a combined 10-12 overall (.455) and 4-8 (.333) in SEC play. That includes UF's 5-0 overall and 4-0 SEC record. Kentucky, Ole Miss and Auburn are a combined 5-12 and 0-8 in SEC play.

You won't find Muschamp or his players complaining. This is certainly a better situation to be in than the one the Gators were in last year after the first weekend in October: without a starting quarterback and staring at games against LSU, Auburn and Georgia.

When starter John Brantley was injured against Alabama, it ended any realistic chance the Gators had of competing in the Eastern Division. Two weeks later, the Gators were 2-3 in the SEC and out of the race.

"I think we've improved. I think we've taken some steps forward. I'm not going to sit there and doubt that, but so many more things to accomplish as we move forward in the season," Muschamp said. "We've got to understand that we've got a lot of things we need to clean up within our football team. There's so many things that we can work on. It [beating LSU] was a great win so I'm not trying to take anything away from the win, but it counts as one and we have a long season ahead of us."

Mike DiRocco | email

ESPN Jacksonville Jaguars reporter