Florida coach Jim McElwain calls it a character test, a chance to see how his players react to being five-touchdown favorites against a team that has lost 13 of its last 15 games.
Others refer to it as a trap game.
Either way, it’s reality for the 23rd-ranked Gators (2-0).
Coming off a lopsided victory against Kentucky and playing at rival and No. 15 Tennessee next week, Florida will try to avoid joining a long list of college teams to endure a letdown this season when it hosts North Texas (1-1) on Saturday.
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“I don’t know how you can ever do anything and not go out and do your best,” McElwain said. “That doesn’t mean you’re ever going to be perfect. No one’s ever perfect. But the energy and the way you prepare to go out against anybody, it doesn’t matter. It shouldn’t matter if it’s football or if it’s tiddlywinks or if it’s going to the ice cream truck really fast.”
McElwain took it a step further while making his point, saying there’s “historical precedence” at Florida of teams seemingly playing to the level of competition and adding “we’re not good enough to just show up against anybody.”
It’s certainly been the case in recent years, evidenced by the Gators needing to eke out wins against Louisiana-Lafayette (2012) and Florida Atlantic (2015) as well as losing to then-lower-division Georgia Southern (2013).
“This has been something that’s been a little bit of an Achilles’ heel for Florida football,” McElwain said. “So I stressed to our guys this is an opportunity to create your own identity and be different. We'll see on Saturday.”
▪ Florida is making a strong push to catch up in the facilities race of college athletics.
A little more than a year after finishing a $17 million indoor practice field and with a $65 million renovation to its on-campus arena nearing completion, the Gators announced concepts for the next phase of upgrades Friday.
The $100 million “master plan” includes a stand-alone football facility and significant improvements to outdated baseball and softball stadiums.
“There’s a lot of momentum building in our program on different levels,” said Jeremy Foley, who is retiring Oct. 1 after 25 years as Florida’s athletic director. “And I think these things are going to keep us moving forward.”
▪ Receiver Tyrie Cleveland has pleaded guilty to criminal mischief for firing a BB gun into an on-campus residence hall.
Cleveland, ruled out of Saturday’s game against because of a hamstring injury, received six months’ probation and must pay $979.80 in restitution and $200 in court costs.
Who: North Texas at Florida
When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville
TV/radio: ESPNU/1250 AM
Who: Miami at Appalachian State
When: Saturday, noon
Where: Kidd Brewer Stadium, Boone (N.C.)
Who: FAU at Kansas State
When: Saturday, 2:30 p.m.
Where: Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium, Manhattan (Kan.)
Who: FIU at UMass
When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
Where: McGuirk Alumni Stadium, Amherst (Mass.)
Who: Maryland at UCF
When: Saturday, 7 p.m.
Where: Bright House Networks Stadium, Orlando
TV: CBS Sports Network