ESPN Insider's "20 teams that can win it all" series is previewing each of the top 20 teams in Brian Fremeau's five-year program metric, with the help of ESPN Stats & Information (for a full explanation and links to all of the previews as they are published, click here). This is the entry for the Florida Gators.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Urban Meyer won a national championship in his second season at Florida. Can Will Muschamp duplicate his predecessor in his sophomore year in Gainesville?
The Gators may not be as far off as some think.
Muschamp has already built a defense that statistically is as good as any in the nation. That alone is enough to make the Gators a factor in the SEC, especially in an Eastern Division that isn't as strong as it traditionally has been. It also helps that the Gators have positioned themselves as one of the teams perennially in the title conversation by their recent elite success both on the field and on the recruiting trail.
But holding Florida back in 2012 will be a couple of critical issues on offense. Solve those, and the Gators have a shot at the fourth national title in school history.
Here's a breakdown of the Gators' national championship chances in 2012.
Why Florida can win it all
The defense is close to being elite
You may not have noticed it amid the Gators' overall disappointing season, but Florida's defense was already among the best in the nation in 2011, especially on third downs. The Gators finished eighth nationally in total defense (299.5 yards per game) and seventh nationally in pass defense (166.8 yards per game), but were really elite when it came to getting opponents off the field.