Florida vs. Idaho: 25 Predictions

1) Florida will outgain Idaho by at least a two to one ratio

2) Idaho QB Chad Chalich will be sacked at least twice

3) Vernon Hargreaves will be avoided at all costs, and thus will not record an interception

4) Andre Debose will accumulate at least 50 receiving yards.

5) Florida’s offense will turn the ball over at least once at some point during the game

6) Florida’s defense will more than make up for that by forcing at least three turnovers

7) Jeff Driskel will not throw for more than 300 yards

8) Treon Harris will throw a touchdown pass

9) Florida’s offense will run a reverse at some point, and it will gain at least 10 yards

10) Kelvin Taylor will rush for at least 100 yards

11) At least two different wide receivers will catch a touchdown pass

12) Brandon Powell will break off a 20+ yard run

13) Idaho will not get inside the Florida 10 yard line all game

14) Florida will score a touchdown on either defense or special teams

15) Jeff Driskel will gain at least 25 yards on a play-action bootleg

16) Will Grier will see some playing time

17) Florida’s defense will force a three and out on Idaho’s first possession

18) The Gators will be penalized at least six times

19) Idaho will pick up a first down on a fake punt

20) A Florida linebacker will record an interception

21) Austin Hardin will make a field goal from 40 yards out or farther

22) Idaho RB Richard Montgomery will rush for at least 50 yards

23) Idaho will not be shut out

24) Florida will score at least 40 points

25) Florida will cover the 37 point spread

VERDICT: Florida wins, 45-3

Throwback Thursday: Florida-Georgia 1993 (Timeout Game)

Since it’s always fun to reminisce about the glory days, and because you guys enjoyed the 1983 Florida-FSU Throwback Thursday post, I’ve decided to do more of them.

This week, we’ve got the infamous “Timeout Game”, between Florida and Georgia in Jacksonville in 1993, when… ah, you know what, you’re just going to have to watch it and see for yourself!

2014 Florida Gators game by game projections

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You guys have made it this far through what’s probably been the most difficult offseason in your lifetime, so here’s a reward for your loyalty: previewing every single game on the Gators’ schedule all at once. That should tide you over until Friday at least, when your countdown clock suddenly has a lot fewer digits filled than it did throughout the winter, spring and summer.

(Note: click the links on each game to read my much more in-depth looks at each of Florida’s opponents.)

So, let’s get to it!

Game 1: Idaho @ Florida, August 30

I wrote this preview before wide receiver Dezmon Epps was booted from the team for violating team rules, so what I projected to be a largely ineffective offense is now going to downright suck. The dismissal leaves QB Chad Chalich with virtually zero proven receivers to throw the ball to, and unless tailback Richard Montgomery goes all Marcus Lattimore on the Gators’ defense and puts up 200+ yards, Idaho has no chance. Their defense is awful, and the game should essentially be over by halftime.

Projection: Florida 45, Idaho 3

Game 2: Eastern Michigan @ Florida, September 6

Ever so slightly better than Idaho is the next team on Florida’s schedule, Eastern Michigan. They’re from the MAC, a conference that has caused Florida some headaches over the years, but they’re also the worst team in the MAC. Unlike Idaho, EMU has two running backs (Bronson Hill and Ryan Brumfield) that can potentially cause damage. Having said that, the rest of their offense is filled with question marks and their defense is so bad that unless Jeff Driskel spends half the day chasing after Mike Pouncey type snaps, this game will be even more of a laugher than Idaho.

Projection: Florida 52, Eastern Michigan 7

Game 3: Kentucky @ Florida, September 13

The first “real” team on Florida’s schedule isn’t all that much better than Florida’s first two opponents, but it’s one the Gators must take seriously. As long as they do that, though, they’ll win in convincing fashion. Kentucky has scored three touchdowns in the Swamp in their last five trips. Make it three in their last six trips, plus their defense surrendering a bunch of them to Jeff Driskel, Kelvin Taylor and the Florida offense.

Projection: Florida 35, Kentucky 6

Game 4: Florida @ Alabama, September 20

Alabama loses a lot from last year, and I believe this is the most vulnerable Crimson Tide team since 2010. Unfortunately, that 2010 team clobbered Florida in Tuscaloosa, which is where this game will be played. On the bright side, Florida figures to be better than they were in 2010, not to mention better than the 4-8 train wreck they rolled out last year. But Kenyon Drake and TJ Yeldon will be too much for even Florida’s defense to stop. They’ll slow them down, but not enough to win the game in Bryant Denny.

Projection: Alabama 31, Florida 14

Game 5: Florida @ Tennessee, October 4

Talk about a monkey on your back. The last time Tennessee beat Florida, I was in elementary school. They’ve beaten Florida exactly two times in Knoxville in the last ten games played there- and one was directly due to a blown call by an official, while the other came in overtime. So expect Tennessee to fight, and Florida to play sloppy football for awhile. But this team is too good to lose to the Vols. Justin Worley struggles all day as the Gators squeak out win number ten in a row over the Vols.

Projection: Florida 20, Tennessee 17

Game 6: LSU @ Florida, October 11

A huge game in the Swamp, to say the least, and Florida’s first realistic toss up game of the year could make or break the entire season, even if it’s not a divisional game. Losing to LSU, in addition to at Alabama, puts Florida at a major disadvantage in the SEC East race. Thus, I expect Florida to give LSU their best shot. But freshman running back Leonard Fournette scores the game winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter to break the hearts of Gator fans everywhere.

Projection: LSU 14, Florida 10

Game 7: Missouri @ Florida, October 18

A loss to LSU the week before has the Florida players steaming, and they’ll take it out on what seems to be a shell of the Mizzou team that won the SEC East a year ago. Maty Mauk is a decent quarterback, and he has a decent running game behind him. But heavy personnel losses to the receiving corps and defense will be too much for Missouri to overcome, and Florida will roll over them after struggling early.

Projection: Florida 38, Missouri 16

Game 8: Florida vs. Georgia (Jax- Georgia is home team), November 1

Florida simply has to beat Georgia if Will Muschamp wants to keep his job in 2015. The lone exception is if he wins 11 games again (including a bowl game/SEC Championship Game, so figure either 10-2 with a bowl/SEC Championship win or 11-1 with a bowl/SEC Championship loss). Losing four in a row to the Dogs is simply unacceptable, and coupled with losses to LSU and Alabama, it would be the final nail in his coffin. So the Gators are going to give it their best shot with their coach’s job riding on it. But it’s not enough; Georgia’s much better defensively and they still have a decent offense. Todd Gurley scores the game winning touchdown late, putting Muschamp’s job security on life support.

Projection: Georgia 27, Florida 23

Game 9: Florida @ Vanderbilt, November 8

Vanderbilt isn’t terrible, but let’s be real, last year was some sort of alternate universe. Desperate and beaten down after the Georgia loss, the Gators will restore some normalcy to the college football world by pummeling Vandy like they always do. QB Patton Robinette is in for a long day, and with eight starters to replace on defense, breaking that ~25 point line that Kurt Roper is aiming for should be a breeze.

Projection: Florida 34, Vanderbilt 10

Game 10: South Carolina @ Florida, November 15

It’s always a story in itself when the Head Ball Coach comes back to Gainesville, even though he’s been at South Carolina almost as long as we he was at Florida. His Gamecocks are as good as ever, but they always find a way to lose that late season game that they shouldn’t on paper, and this year, it’s going to be against Florida in the Swamp. Mike Davis is going to get his yardage, but Florida’s defense will stuff him when it matters most to save Muschamp’s job for another week.

Projection: Florida 30, South Carolina 20

Game 11: Eastern Kentucky @ Florida, November 22

Are you kidding? Two of the nation’s worst teams to start the year and now we get an FCS team that goes .500 every year and- most importantly- does’t run the triple option? It may be a bad thing, actually, that Florida plays such a bad team before playing such a good team in FSU, because adjusting to the speed and talent level isn’t easy. But in terms of this game, well, it figures to be a joke. After what happened last year, EKU’s jerseys may as well read “Georgia Southern”, because Florida’s going to treat this game like a rematch- and thus, they’re going to turn it into a blowout.

Projection: Florida 55, Eastern Kentucky 13

Game 12: Florida @ Florida State, November 29

I wish I could predict a “Ron Zook Field” moment here with a straight face, but I can’t. The truth is that this FSU team is going to be much better than that FSU team ten years ago was, and with the Noles fighting for a spot in the college football playoff, they’re not going to lose this game. Now, as for the 2015 game in Gainesville? This far in advance, yeah, I like Florida’s chances. Not this year, though. FSU wins convincingly enough to put Florida at 8-4, which will really heat up the debate among Florida fans about Will Muschamp’s future.

Projection: FSU 28, Florida 13

Interview: Meet Tyler Jordan, Top OL and Master Recruiter

Tyler Jordan may be a highly touted offensive line recruit, but his own performance isn’t the only way he can help Florida.

If he wants to become a coach some day, he’s got a good head start, because he’s highly proficient in the art of recruiting. He’s the glue that holds this class together. Every coach can say what they want, but to hear good things about a school from another player is a far more meaningful pro in the pros and cons game that all recruits play when picking a school.

In the interview, we talk about how Tyler is so successful in terms of recruiting other players, as well as his own strengths and weaknesses and his prediction for the 2014 Gator team. Enjoy!

Jeff Driskel Looks To Silence Criticism, Revive Career With Breakout 2014 Campaign

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Redemption.

One word can characterize the goal for many teams, in many sports, in many parts of the world, who did not accomplish what they wanted to the previous year, and set out to right those wrongs with the best performance they can possibly dream of in the upcoming year. 2013 Florida was not the only team in organized sports to lose more games than it won last year. 2013 Florida was not the only team in the world to fall victim to a nasty injury bug. And most importantly, 2013 Florida was not the only team to ever fall far short of its expectations.

Since his days working for Nick Saban at LSU, Will Muschamp has been generally acknowledged as a defensive genius. Those who slap that stigma on him are not wrong; Muschamp’s three defenses at Florida have statistically finished top ten nationally (even last year, the Gators had the 8th ranked defense in the country). But after going 4-8 and losing to Georgia Southern a year ago, it’s become clear that while defense may win championships, they certainly cannot do so alone.

They need help from an offense.

And despite the heavy criticism hurled his way by many over the years- or maybe because of it- the man who will direct the unit that will complement the defense may be as good a fit to do so as anybody in the country.


 

Jeff Driskel was born in Oviedo, FL, right outside of Orlando. Anybody who even casually follows college football recruiting knows that the state of Florida churns out some of the best high school football talent in the country. Yet even in high school, Driskel was accused of beating up on weak competition (funny how some it came from FSU fans, who surely know a thing or two about weak competition) and thus running up high numbers that did not accurately reflect his talent level. Gator fans were plied with “he’s going to flop once he gets to the SEC” by rival schools. Sure, he didn’t compete against the best opponents (at least by ridiculous Florida standards), but you can’t throw for almost 5,000 yards without being somewhat… well, good, can you?

Most people with a thimbleful of sense didn’t think so. Driskel was touted the #1 QB recruit in the nation coming out of high school. Gator fans were giddy at the prospect of replacing Tim Tebow with Driskel, a skinny kid with a big arm and a 4.5 40 yard dash. But he had the misfortune of entering Gainesville at a bad time. His freshman year was disappointing; the man who recruited him left the program, the new coach made the decision to start John Brantley over him, and Driskel eventually got hurt against Alabama, effectively ending his season. There were many more important things to discuss in terms of the Gators than Jeff Driskel at that point; Florida’s 7-6 record, their first year head coach, and later, their bowl game against Ohio State.

But as soon as the 2011 season ended, a fierce QB battle began between Driskel and Jacoby Brissett. There were a number of Gator fans and players who preferred Brissett over Driskel, but it was ultimately Driskel’s superior mobility that won him the job after an ugly 27-14 win over Mid-American Conference also-ran Bowling Green. However, Driskel winning the job didn’t quell the debate, as the Gator offense struggled at times during the year (9 points against Georgia, 14 against Missouri and 14 against LSU), there were some Florida fans grumbling that maybe Brissett should be the QB. Calls to start Brissett really heated up after the nauseating 17-9 loss to Georgia.

The debate might have escalated into an all out brawl among Florida fans, but it didn’t because of one curious fact: the Gators were winning games. Not in pretty fashion, but they were winning. Some fans were willing to turn the other cheek because Florida finished their SEC schedule at 7-1, and with two cupcake games to play before a road trip to FSU, it seemed a cinch that Florida would roll to an 11-1 record, and maybe find themselves in Atlanta.

It seemed like a cinch, that is, until Jeff Driskel got knocked out of the Louisiana game, and the Gators blew a 13-3 lead to allow the Rajin’ Cajuns to climb on top, 20-13. With nobody other than Brissett to turn to, Gator fans crossed their fingers… and then watched Brissett lead the Gators all the way down for the tying touchdown in the waning moments. After a three and out forced by the Gator defense, Louchiez Purifoy blocked the punt, Jelani Jenkins took it all the way home and Florida had survived the gigantic upset bid, 27-20. Of course, the blocked punt- and the fact that the game had to come down to one- was the talk of the Gator sports world in the waking hours.

However, once the emotion of the close call died down, people began to realize that Purifoy and Jenkins weren’t the only reason Florida won. Gator fans started to discuss among themselves Jacoby Brissett’s game saving touchdown drive in great detail. Support for Brissett skyrocketed. Look what he did in his first game. He had no idea he’d be called on. He hadn’t practiced with the first team. Imagine what he can do when he’s fully prepared and all the rust is shaken off. A ho-hum 23-0 win over Jacksonville State wasn’t exactly the best thing for Jacoby Brissett’s case to start, but there was the thought process among Florida fans that Brent Pease was saving everything for FSU the following week.

But it was Driskel who got the call against FSU, healthy and raring to go. We all remember what happened that day; Florida’s running game burned FSU for 244 yards on the ground. But Driskel was the QB, and he avoided the mistakes that would have won the game for FSU, the way they won the game for Georgia. He didn’t put up Heisman type numbers, but he played mistake free football other than a botched handoff with Mike Gillislee (that seemed to me like Gillislee’s fault more than Driskel’s).

So after joyous 37-26 win over FSU in Tallahassee, all was well and good in Gainesville. Driskel was back and winning games, and to Gator fans, that’s all that matters. Few fans will complain about much if the team is winning (and if they do, it’s usually amongst themselves). But then came the Sugar Bowl, a game that the Gators lost to Louisville in a much more lopsided fashion than the 33-23 final score would suggest. The cries to start Brissett rose up all over again from the piece of the fan base that wanted him. But a few days after the Sugar Bowl, Brissett announced his decision to transfer, leaving those fans extremely upset.

Then 2013 happened. After a relatively easy 24-6 win over Toledo, Driskel threw two picks against Miami as Florida lost the final game of the now defunct rivalry, 21-16. At this point, the Brissett supporters began howling. “Why did you let him transfer?” “He should have been our starter all along!” “Wake up, Pease!” The attention of those fans then shifted to Tyler Murphy, and the cries to start Murphy replaced the Brissett propaganda. Unfortunately, those fans got their wish the very next week, as Driskel broke his ankle throwing what turned out to be a pick six by Devaun Swafford of Tennessee- the last pass he’s thrown for Florida.

We all know what happened the rest of the year, and I’m not gong to relive it. It was a nightmare. But nobody wanted to wake up more from it than Jeff Driskel.


 

The kid with the big smile and humble attitude from Oviedo has a lot to prove, and he knows it. If he had his choice, he’d play his football game, shower, get dressed, eat and then go hunting with his friends. He’s the inverse of Johnny Manziel in the attention seeking department. But he knows he has a job to do in 2014, and he also knows that there’s a ton of attention that comes with that job.

He’s got the majority of Gator Nation on his side. The final seven games of last year made a lot of Florida fans appreciate what they had in him, and the old adage about “you can’t appreciate what you have until you don’t have it” was proven frighteningly accurate. As always, there will be criticism directed his way, both from Florida fans and from rival fans. But if anybody knows how to respond to criticism, it’s Driskel.

He is, after all, the guy who led Florida into Kyle Field and ruined Texas A&M’s welcome to the SEC by out performing eventual Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel- a week after winning the job to the dismay of a portion of his own fans. He’s also the guy who led Florida into Tallahassee and outdueled EJ Manuel, a first round draft pick, and his 10th ranked Seminoles. Texas A&M and FSU are two of the most hostile environments in the country, and Driskel led the Gators to huge victories over both those teams in their home stadiums. That’s got to count for something, right?

But those wins aren’t what first come to mind when somebody yells out the words “JEFF DRISKEL”. Instead, people initially think of his two bad decisions that turned into picks against Miami, the sack he took and the ensuing fumble he lost that essentially lost the game against the Canes, and his broken ankle/pick-six against Tennessee. Those are the most recent images Gator fans have of him in live game action.

And the only way to rid Florida fans of the sour taste he left in the collective mouth of Gator Nation is with a strong 2014 season.


 

Redemption.

That’s the name of the game for Jeff Driskel in 2014. Just like all those teams around the globe that fall short of expectations or fall victim to a particularly truculent injury bug, Driskel is going out to redeem himself this year. He’s dealt with criticism his whole life, and he knows that he’s still on the receiving end of some right now. He hasn’t fulfilled the gaudy expectations set for him by highly optimistic Gator fans who wanted him to replace Tim Tebow, and maybe he never will. But he does know what he’s capable of doing. He knows he’s talented, he knows he’s got a big arm, he knows he’s fast, and he knows he’s generally a very smart QB.

A new offensive coordinator and an offense more suited to his style should help him. But after being knocked down several times, both literally and figuratively, he’s ready to accept the challenge. He’s ready to lead the new look Gator offense. He’s ready to silence that criticism and revive his career.

He’s ready to win.

Florida Gators 2014 Game Previews: Game Twelve, Florida State Seminoles

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And so we come, finally, to the last game. The rivalry game.

At 8-3 in my 2014 projections, Will Muschamp’s Gators are hot, but he knows he still has work to do in order to keep his job for 2015. I- and most rational people- project Florida State to be, at the very least, in the hunt for the four team playoff coming down to the final week of the season. Plus, the game’s going to be played on FSU’s home turf. But then again, so was the game 10 years ago…

PREVIOUSLY PREVIEWING:

Game One: Florida 45, Idaho 3

Game Two: Florida 52, Eastern Michigan 7

Game Three: Florida 35, Kentucky 6

Game Four: Alabama 31, Florida 14

Game Five: Florida 20, Tennessee 17

Game Six: LSU 14, Florida 10

Game Seven: Florida 38, Missouri 16

Game Eight: Georgia 27, Florida 23

Game Nine: Florida 34, Vanderbilt 10

Game Ten: Florida 30, South Carolina 20

Game Eleven: Florida 55, Eastern Kentucky 13

FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES

2013: 14-0 (8-0 SEC), ACC Champs (def. Duke) BCS National Champs (def. Auburn)

Last Meeting (2013): FSU 37, Florida 7

All Time Series: Florida 34, FSU 22 (2 ties)

Coach: Jimbo Fisher, 5th year (45-10)

Who Are You?

I personally believe Georgia is Florida’s biggest rival, if only because of the implications within the SEC East that this rivalry (obviously) does not have. But don’t get me wrong. FSU is a huge rival for Florida, and while I get the feeling that FSU hates Florida more than Florida hates FSU (my guess as to why is that no matter what happens in an argument, Florida can say 34-22 and there’s no real equivalent response), there’s not a Gator fan alive who doesn’t have a burning desire to beat this team after what happened last season.

But beating them is going to be a tall order, to say the least. Florida State’s good. Really good. They may not be quite what they were a year ago, but they’re still a force. Jimbo Fisher has built a sturdy program with an SEC blueprint, and the Noles appear to be replacing the guys who leave with equally/more effective pieces (see Jameis Winston replacing EJ Manuel).

Having said that, the Noles are beatable. It’s going to take almost a perfectly played game from Florida, but it’s possible.

OFFENSIVE BREAKDOWN

Returning Starters: 7

The FSU offense might be slightly less explosive than it was a year ago. But make no mistake. It’s still going to be one of the nation’s best. It starts with Jameis Winston, the Noles’ Mr. Everything and answer to Tim Tebow. His arsenal of playmakers in the receiving corps took a hit with Kelvin Benjamin and Kenny Shaw (1,944 yards between them last year) now playing on Sundays, but Rashad Greene is back to give Winston one dependable target, and all-ACC tight end Nick O’Leary makes two. How well this offense functions depends on whether FSU can find that third dependable target.

Christian Green could be that guy. After an impressive freshman year in 2011, Green was lost in the shadows of Benjamin and Shaw over the past two years. But he’s looked sharp this offseason, and he, along with BCS Title game hero Lavonte Whitfield and highly touted freshmen Travis Rudolph and Ermon Lane, will be counted on to make plays for their Heisman Trophy winning QB.

The running game also has its work cut out. There’s 1,579 yards worth of production to replace with the losses of Devonte Freeman and James Wilder Jr. But the talent to do it is there. Karlos Williams gives them a dependable #1 back, and there’s depth behind him. After missing 2012 due to injury and being ruled academically ineligible last year, Mario Pender is finally ready to play. He’ll compete with Ryan Green and freshman Dalvin Cook for that second spot. There may not be much experience, but each of these guys can inflict damage.

This offensive unit is rounded out by a stellar offensive line. There are four returning starters, and of those four, there’s one All-American (tackle Cam Erving) and one additional all-ACC pick (guard Tre Jackson). All five starters will be seniors. To sum that all up: the Gators’ front seven is going to have a tough task.

Offensive Grade: A-

Replacing so many playmakers at once (two of the top three receiving targets and two of the top four rushers) won’t be easy. But there’s still plenty of talent left, plus some new talent (Lane, Cook, Pender). Worse comes to worse, Jameis Winston will find a way to make the offense tick.

DEFENSIVE BREAKDOWN

Returning Starters: 7

FSU didn’t really need its defense last year. Who needs a defense when your offense can put up 40 on a bad day? The Noles blew out most of their opponents, and their offense won the game for them both times they were really challenged, against Boston College and Auburn. But it was there anyway, and lost amid the talk of Jameis Winston and the offense, it was quietly one of the best in the country last year.

Jimbo Fisher felt confident in linebackers coach Charles Kelly to promote him to defensive coordinator after losing Jeremy Pruitt to Georgia. Kelly has some reloading to do: star DT Timmy Jernigan, CB LaMarcus Joyner and LB’s Telvin Smith and Christian Jones have left for the NFL. But like the situation on offense, FSU has talent to work with.

Mario Edwards and Eddie Goldman return to anchor the defensive line, and they’ll be joined by Chris Casher and Niles Lawrence-Stample to form a very strong front four. My question about this defense is at the linebacker level. Three of their biggest contributors (Dan Hicks, Jones and Smith) are gone, and they’re left with one starter (Terrance Smith). Reggie Northrup takes over at weak side linebacker, while Ukeme Eligwe slides in at the strong side spot. Can these two guys step up and make plays the way Telvin Smith and Christian Jones did?

Finally, we get to FSU’s defensive backfield, which should again be a major strength. They do lose Joyner and safety Terrance Brooks back there, but Ronald Darby, PJ Williams and Jalen Ramsey are more than capable of picking up where they left off. Ramsey, the first freshman to start at corner for the Noles since 1985, is in a lot of ways similar to Vernon Hargreaves- young, talented, and physical, and can hold his own with even the best receivers. Florida’s receivers may have a long day.

Defensive Grade: A

Questions at linebacker keep me from giving this defense an A+. But this is easily one of the nation’s top ten, and probably top five, defenses. If the Gators’ offense can’t at least match the high expectations of Kurt Roper and this new offense, they will struggle.

Florida Key: Offense

The Gators have to get the ground attack going early and often, or else they’re going to get sledgehammered. And I do think Kelvin Taylor and Adam Lane will have some success. Remember, FSU had the nation’s top rush defense in 2012, and the Gators shredded them for 244 yards on the ground. With a good offensive line, I expect another decent showing in the running game. But decent isn’t going to beat FSU. Great might, like it did in 2012.

Florida Key: Defense

Lost among a year’s worth of “37-7″ taunts from FSU fans is a curious fact: for a quarter and a half of last year’s game, the Florida defense completely shut down Jameis Winston and FSU’s offense. The Gators sacked Winston four times, and even picked him off once. Check the tape of the first half of that game. A banged up front seven got in Winston’s face on a consistent basis last year (which is exactly what I said they’d have to do about six minutes in to this interview); Florida’s fully healthy front seven this year should be exponentially better, so if Muschamp is smart- and he is- he’ll stuff the box and try to rattle Winston again.

Key Matchup: Kelvin Taylor, Adam Lane & Florida offensive line vs. FSU front seven

If there’s a weakness in this Seminoles defense, it’s the linebacker position. I’ll again point to the 2012 game, in which the Gators’ 109th ranked offense racked up 244 yards on the ground against FSU’s top ranked rush defense. I know the players are different on both sides now, and I’m not suggesting Florida can duplicate that number. But I am saying that if Kelvin Taylor and Adam Lane get going, FSU’s going to be in a world of trouble. Because that will mean Florida will control the ball for long periods of time, and thus, the Gators’ defense will get the rest it needs to resume its hot pursuit of Winston each time they take the field. If the running game gets going, a lot of stars will suddenly align.

What Does This Game Mean?

Well, you’ve read my Florida-FSU rivalry piece at some point, I’m sure; that should pretty much explain the tone of this rivalry. But as for implications specific to this year, a loss doesn’t mean a ton. It’s just what the folks in Vegas predicted, and it’s what most realistic fans are predicting, too. The worst that could possibly happen: FSU bludgeons us again, and even then we have “34-23″ in our back pocket.

A win, on the other hand…

I still have serious questions about Will Muschamp heading into this season. They can be immediately erased by winning one of two games: this one or Alabama. Beating FSU in Tallahassee would pretty much guarantee Muschamp his job back in 2015, unless he’s done something unforgivable, like lose to Idaho or limp into this game at 6-5, and thus gets fired before the game even kicks off.

If Florida somehow enters this game in the mix for the college football playoff, it could be their golden ticket in. Since 2011, Florida is the only team to win a game on their home turf, and if they do it again, they have a leg up on everybody else up for consideration: they would have won on the home field of a team that’s almost certain to be in the discussion for the four team playoff as well.

Overview:

This game cannot be a replay of the 37-7 beatdown that took place a year ago in Gainesville if only because it may not be possible for a team to be worse than the Gators were by last November. 2014 Florida will be leagues better than 2013 Florida on offense, and assuming the injury situation isn’t anywhere near what it was last year, this could actually be a dark horse national championship contender. Yes, really. Remember how the Gators came out of nowhere in 2012?

But asking for a win in Tallahassee is too much. As much as it hurts me to say this, FSU is just too powerful from top to bottom. I do think the Noles will take a slight step back in 2014, and by “slight step” I mean I believe they’ll lose the type of game they shouldn’t like they did to NC State in 2012 and escaped from against Boston College last year. But they’ll come into this game somewhere in the 4-8 range (since all I’ve done this offseason is make graphics like this one showing why Florida is historically better than FSU, I owe Seminole fans that one) and very much in the mix for the college football playoff.

Don’t worry too much about losing on the road to what’s almost certain to be a top 10 team, though. College football rivalries go in cycles. Remember how Florida beat FSU six straight times? That streak ended just five years ago. It wasn’t that long ago that the Gators were on top of the state, despite the fact that it suddenly seems like forever right now. The Noles are the dominant team right now, and it sucks. I have no doubt that the Gators will reclaim the state some day, just like I have no doubt that the Gators will give FSU their best shot this year. But barring nap time in Doak Campbell Stadium and an array of FSU turnovers like the ones Florida gave to Miami last year or Georgia two years ago- or, of course, Florida being worlds better or FSU being worlds worse than I anticipate them being- “some day” won’t be this November.

Projection: FSU 28, Florida 13

With only two weeks until kickoff, it’s time for Gators fans to bury the 4-8 season just as the players have

With today marking the 14 day countdown until the 2014 season kicks off, many are still wondering what to expect from this years Gators team. Well, one thing I can tell you with certainty is that we all witnessed the statistically worst season … Continue reading

The History And Tradition of the Florida-FSU Rivalry

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Before I get to my breakdown of the Florida-FSU game to conclude my preseason projections, I believe it’s worth breaking down the rivalry’s deep, rich history first. Let’s start at the beginning with Florida and Florida State. This game was … Continue reading