The Florida Gators locker room in Fayetteville was silent. The Gators had been talking about winning a championship all season long and a 31-10 loss at the hands of the Razorbacks had all but dashed that in their minds.

Sophomore defensive end CeCe Jefferson stepped up amidst the silence and reminded the team that there was still a lot of season left. Jefferson commanded the attention and respect of the locker room and they listened.

“He just basically told us we still gotta keep working. We can’t fall apart. We gotta stick together,” senior safety Marcus Maye said after the Arkansas game. “He said we’ve got a bunch of ball left and he wouldn’t go out on a Saturday with anybody else. So it was definitely a good message.”

Florida went into that game ranked No. 11 in the first College Football Playoff Rankings. The loss caused a free-fall more than 14 spots and out of the ranking completely. Arkansas, previously unranked, jumped into the ranking despite having three losses to Florida’s two. In fact, four teams with three losses were ranked in the second CFP ranking and 12-of-25 teams ranked ahead of Florida had two losses as well, including nine of the top 15 teams.

A win over unranked South Carolina brought the Gators back into the top-25, coming in at 23 but they were behind eight other teams that had two losses and five teams that already had three losses.

“We’ve got a bunch of young guys, all that stuff, guys are hurt, but you know what, I like these guys and they play hard,” Jim McElwain said. “You know what, we’re a pretty darn good football team.”

Nobody gave the Gators a chance to leave Baton Rouge with a win. Florida was a double-digit underdog

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