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Ugly and proud

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The Florida Gators aren't pretty.

They're not even cute.

In fact, they've got a bit of the good light/bad light thing going on.

But appearances really don't matter, because Florida is 10-1, ranked No. 4 in the BCS, and one victory away from possibly playing in a BCS bowl -- and maybe even the BCS National Championship Game. Apparently ugly victories count, too.

"A win is a win, no matter how we end up winning," C Jonotthan Harrison said. "As long as it's fair and as long as it's legal, obviously, but yeah, a win's a win."

Harrison didn't try to deny that the Gators have been winning ugly. Neither did coach Will Muschamp or offensive coordinator Brent Pease. With so much evidence, how could they?

Florida's offense is marginally better than it was last season, when it ranked 105th nationally. The Gators are running the ball better than 2011, but rank 114th in passing. They've struggled on third down and in the red zone and have scored 27 points or less in their last four games -- including one against a Football Championship Subdivision team.

The style of play doesn't wow many people, either. Unlike the Steve Spurrier and Tim Tebow eras, the Gators aren't throwing the ball around the yard. In fact, they're on pace to have the fewest passing attempts in a season since 1989. Run the ball. Play field position. Win with defense.

"We are what we are right now in what we do," Pease said. "Where we're at it's still kind of a work in progress. Until we get everything totally in place and the kids have worked through it for a year, you hope you continually see improvement and experience has to go along with that. Everybody has to understand the circumstances around everything when things are new.

"I didn't expect this thing to be a work of perfection or I would have come here for one year and left. That is not my intention."

In the past two weeks, UF needed to block a punt and return it for a touchdown in the final seconds to avoid going to overtime against Louisiana-Lafayette -- and scored just one offensive touchdown against FCS Jacksonville State. At home.

Not pretty.

And yet the results have been.

UF is the only team in the country to have beaten three teams in the BCS top 12 (No. 7 LSU, No. 9 Texas A&M and No. 12 South Carolina), and the NCAA ranks UF's schedule as the nation's toughest. That's why the Gators are on the cusp of making a BCS bowl. If Florida beats No. 10 Florida State (10-1) on Saturday, the Gators will be in the mix for a berth in the Sugar Bowl. If the Gators win and No. 2 Alabama beats 3-8 Auburn and Southern California upsets No. 1 Notre Dame, they will rise to No. 3 in the BCS standings and have a pretty good chance to make the national championship game.

That's why Muschamp isn't apologizing for winning ugly.

"I don't really worry about the perception of what might be out there," he said. "I don't apologize for being 3-1 [against BCS top 12 teams] and the only team in the BCS top 10 that has that record and a better record than anyone else and has a tougher schedule than anyone else in the country. So, I don't know what else you need to do.

"... You look at our record, you look at our schedule and what we've accomplished this year, we've had a hell of a year."

Regardless of how pretty it is.