For Gators, Winning Margin Doesn’t Include Style Points

COLUMBIA, S.C. — As this Florida season teeters on the verge of history, the Gators continue to beat their opponents and lose to their toughest competition.

Top-ranked Florida moved closer to its second consecutive national title Saturday with a teeth-gnashing 24-14 victory over South Carolina. Throughout their undefeated season, however, the Gators cannot seem to control their biggest nemesis — the past dominance of Florida teams.

Expected to be a team of unprecedented production, the Gators have simply settled for being stellar. Florida could become the first team in a half-century to win three undisputed national titles in four years. But the Gators’ inability to rack up blowouts the way last season’s national title team did has left them in a bizarre situation: a team chasing a national title but seeming like an underachiever.

“We did not play perfect,” Florida Coach Urban Meyer said. “Obviously. But I’m not sure we have played perfect in quite a while.”

Fair or not, Florida’s season has been defined by drama more than dominance. With the Gators (10-0, 8-0 Southeastern Conference) barreling toward a date with No. 3 Alabama in the SEC title game on Dec. 5, there has been more attention to the Gators’ shortcomings than to their accomplishments.