NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Halfway into the season, the No. 14-ranked Gators are trending upward. Four consecutive wins and back-to-back victories against teams in the top 25 will do that.

The Gators were a difficult team to project at the start of the season, their first under head coach Dan Mullen. Were they significant underachievers a year ago when they finished 4-7? How much of an impact would Mullen make in his return to UF? Would quarterback Feleipe Franks show improvement in his second season as the starter? Was there enough talent on the roster to challenge for the SEC East?

The list of questions went on and on.

Six games into Mullen’s tenure, the results have been better than most expected. Mullen and UCF’s Josh Heupel are the only first-year coaches already with five wins. Following Florida’s 27-19 win over No. 5-ranked LSU last week, the Gators jumped eight spots in the AP Top 25. Mullen’s name has started to surface in Coach-of-the-Year conversations.

The Gators (5-1, 3-1) have steadily improved since a loss to Kentucky five weeks diminished expectations. Instead of the loss lingering, the Gators rebounded to beat Colorado State and have strung together SEC wins against Tennessee, Mississippi State and LSU.

They

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