Florida Gators Football: Final Game-by-Game Schedule Predictions
We are less than two weeks away from the college football season, and now those predictions everybody has been throwing up against the wall finally mean something. While it’s great to look at the schedule and talk about matchups, it’s tough to predict games months in advance.
Back in May, I had the Florida Gators finishing with a respectable 9-3 record considering the season they had a year ago. Not much has changed with the results considering Florida is pretty much the same team it was a few months ago, and the opponents are still as tough as ever.
Although with updates throughout camp and the attitude players have toward the upcoming season, it’s worth looking at these games again and throwing out a few updated predictions.
Here is how the Gators will fare in 2014.
Vs. Idaho (Aug. 30)
Idaho and Florida could play 100 times and the Gators would win 99 of those matchups. The only reason it wouldn’t be a clean sweep is because there’s usually an Appalachian State-Michigan or Georgia Southern-Florida colossal upset that takes place.
Since this is only my second time picking this game, I’m once again going with Florida.
The Vandals have won a combined four games in their last three seasons. That was the same number of wins Florida had in arguably its worst season in program history.
This isn’t rocket science. Florida is going to crush Idaho from start to finish and use this as a game to replace some of last year’s nightmares.
Florida wins 43-3 (1-0)
Vs. Eastern Michigan (Sept. 6)
Nothing could have happened throughout the offseason that would lead me to believe Eastern Michigan has a shot at beating Florida. The Eagles have won no more than two games in four of their last five seasons and have a first-time Division I coach in Chris Creighton.
Last season, Eastern Michigan lost 45-7 to Penn State and allowed 55 points to Toledo. This is a team that is outmatched at every position and is simply showing up for the hefty paycheck it will receive.
No matter how much the offense has progressed to this point or how many injuries the team has, Florida will have no problem winning this game.
Florida wins 38-3 (2-0)
Vs. Kentucky (Sept. 13)
This is yet another cupcake game for Florida to open the season with, as Kentucky hasn’t beaten the Gators in 27 meetings. If you were born after 1986, you’ve never seen the Wildcats beat the Gators on the football field.
Chances are you still won’t once this game passes.
Kentucky does return 16 starters from a team that was able to keep losses against South Carolina and Mississippi State within single digits. Head coach Mark Stoops has also done a fine job of bringing in talent and is making progress in such a short time frame. However, 0-8 in conference play is just that.
The Wildcats still have a ways to go before they can compete with the big boys in the SEC.
Florida wins 35-10 (3-0)
At Alabama (Sept. 20)
If there’s any game I’m looking at a little closer, it’d be this one. In the earlier predictions, I had Alabama winning, 28-17.
There’s no reason to believe Alabama’s defense will be anything short of remarkable considering it’s had the top defense in the SEC the last five seasons. The Crimson Tide may also have their best offense of the Nick Saban era with guys such as Amari Cooper, T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry holding down the fort. Add the fact that this game is played in Bryant–Denny Stadium, and Alabama wins this game on paper.
The one thing that is starting to make me feel like the Gators really have a shot is their overwhelming confidence. Players were carrying themselves differently at SEC media days, and this seems like it’s going to be a team with a chip on its shoulder. A talented team with an attitude and a point to prove is scary.
I still have Alabama winning if forced to pick right now, but depending on how Florida has played leading up to this matchup, that may change.
Alabama wins 24-21 (3-1)
At Tennessee (Oct. 4)
Question: What’s the one thing that most people say separates the SEC from the rest of college football?
Answer: The play in the trenches.
While Butch Jones has brought some life back into to a struggling Tennessee program and is recruiting well, the Volunteers must replace their entire offensive and defensive lines. You can guarantee there are going to be major issues throughout the season with a brand new offensive front. The hardest thing for a coach to do is pick five guys who can communicate and work well together.
To make things worse for the Vols, Florida’s biggest strength is its defensive line. Oh, this one is sure to get ugly.
Florida wins 35-14 (4-1)
Vs. LSU (Oct. 11)
Florida lost last year’s meeting against LSU by 11 points. Keep in mind, that game was played in Baton Rouge, Florida couldn’t move the ball whatsoever and the Tigers had plenty of established starters on the field.
This year, the game will be played in Florida, and LSU has to find new offensive playmakers, including a quarterback—all while the Gators have much of last year’s team intact.
On paper, there’s no reason why Florida shouldn’t win this football game, especially considering LSU has lost seven of its last 10 meetings in Gainesville.
These games are always highly competitive and usually intense defensive battles. You have to give the edge to the more complete and team that’s at home.
Florida wins 21-14 (5-1)
Vs. Missouri (Oct. 18)
Missouri returns only nine starters from last season’s SEC East-winning team, which are the fewest of any team in the conference. The Tigers have a lengthy list of key contributors who are no longer on the roster. From Michael Sam to James Franklin, Missouri is a team that is poised for a big step backward.
The Tigers are lost as far as offensive playmakers are concerned, and their defense is going to feature a ton of new guys with seven starters being replaced.
Everything went perfectly for Missouri last season, and it’s tough imagining lightning striking in the same spot twice. This time, the matchup will take place in The Swamp, and the Gators have plenty of mismatches to exploit and lead them to victory.
Florida wins 28-7 (6-1)
Vs. Georgia (in Jacksonville, Nov. 1)
While there’s no question the Gators are going to be motivated all season long, the game they’ll have no problem waking up for is against Georgia. The Bulldogs have won the last three meetings, and the last two were games that Florida simply gave away with careless plays and turnovers.
Georgia still has one of the top running back tandems in college football with Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. The Bulldogs defense should also improve with 10 starters returning.
It’s certainly not going to be an easy game, but Georgia has a long history of coming up short in big games under head coach Mark Richt. Considering this could decide who wins the SEC East, that is a key factor going into this matchup.
I had Georgia winning by the slimmest of margins in the last article and admitted that my thoughts would probably change multiple times until kickoff. Well, I was right.
It will be Florida who sneaks by the win simply by not turning the ball over late.
Florida wins 24-21 (7-1)
At Vanderbilt (Nov. 8)
Although Florida lost to Vanderbilt last season for the first time since 1988, you get the feeling that the Commodores have peaked as a football program in the SEC. Head coach James Franklin left for Penn State for a reason, and it wasn’t necessarily because it was a better situation given the circumstances in Happy Valley.
Vanderbilt just does not have the elite athletes and depth it takes to win in this conference. Now, Vanderbilt has to find a reliable quarterback and replace eight starters on defense.
Derek Mason is a tough-nosed coach who is going to do what he can to keep Vanderbilt respectable, but patience is going to be key with this program. Although the game is at the Commodores' house, it’s safe to say that the Gators will be leaving with a victory.
Vanderbilt simply has too many questions and not enough playmakers to last for 60 minutes.
Florida wins 35-10 (8-1)
Vs. South Carolina (Nov. 15)
Last season, Florida lost to South Carolina by only five points. That game was played in the Cockpit, South Carolina had Jadeveon Clowney and no Florida player besides Kelvin Taylor could do anything with the football.
If we’re going off the assumption that the Gators are a much-improved football team, there’s no reason they shouldn’t win this game at home.
South Carolina lost a lot of leadership on defense and is now being led by a questionable quarterback in Dylan Thompson. The Gamecocks have also won only one game in Gainesville (2010) since becoming a member of the SEC.
Florida looks like the more balanced team and has the home-crowd advantage that always plays key in these type of games.
The Gators continue to roll.
Florida wins 27-14 (9-1)
Vs. Eastern Kentucky (Nov. 22)
This is another paycheck game for a small school, and it doesn’t deserve much of an explanation. If the Gators can’t beat Eastern Kentucky, they will get run out of town and would have to set up shop somewhere else.
The Colonels don’t have a single advantage heading into this matchup and would likely still lose if they were to play Florida’s backups. In fact, there’s a good chance Eastern Kentucky is going to see a lot of backups anyway due to a lopsided score.
Eastern Kentucky’s only chance of winning this game is hoping the Gators return to 2013 form and forget how to play football.
Florida wins 56-0 (10-1)
At Florida State (Nov. 29)
The toughest game on Florida’s schedule is still the meeting against the Florida State Seminoles.
The defending national champions return 13 starters, including Heisman trophy winner Jameis Winston, four starters from the offensive line and six starters from a defense that ranked third in the country. With all that talent and a watered down ACC schedule, Florida State is destined to be one of the four playoff teams and has a solid chance of repeating.
This is still a rivalry game, and strange things tend to take place on this weekend. However, I just don’t see the Gators going into Tallahassee and leaving with a victory.
Of course, things could change from now till November, but it would take a lot of improvement on the offensive side of the ball for Florida to really change my mind.
Florida State wins 24-14 (10-2)