Raise your hand if you thought that the 2012 version of THE FLORIDA
GATORS would go 11-2? No one? Yea me either. It was quite a
pleasant surprise for me as well. Yes, they lost to Louisville in the
Sugar Bowl . I was there and I saw the dreadful performance myself.
While Louisville is a better team than most people thought, but the
Gators should still have won that game. That’s what happens when you
underestimate and don’t properly prepare for teams like Louisville.
Still, no one would have guessed that Florida would have been in the
Sugar Bowl at the start of the season and overall 2012 as a success
for Florida. They had significant wins against good teams. With a
pretty brutal schedule against teams like @Texas A&M, LSU, South
Carolina, Jawjuh, Missouri and Florida State the Gators averaged a
15.8 point margin in all their wins. Their only two losses were to
the Leghumpers and Louisville. Both wins the Gators should have had.
In 2013, the defense will once again be the strength of the team even
with the departure of players like Sharriff Floyd, Matt Elam and Jon
Bostic to the NFL. Thanks to stellar recruiting by Muschamp there is
only reloading to be done on that side of the ball. On the offensive
side of the ball, is another story. Gone is 1,000 yard rusher Mike
Gillislee to the Dolphins. I feel pretty good about the running game
with Matt Jones and feel like we have some good depth to back him up
for some rest. The questions marks on Offense again for the third
year in a row is… Will the Offensive line stay healthy and protect
Driskel and will any receivers show up and be a threat? Last year,
because of certain drama occurring down in Miami, Florida was without
a receivers coach. You have to believe to a certain degree that this
had some impact on the Gator passing game. Now that Joker Phillips is
on board and has a good deal of experience coaching receivers you have
to expect anything is an improvement over what we experienced 2012.
Therefore, I am expecting a significant improvement in Driskel’s
second year under Brent Pease’s offense after ranking 78th nationally
with an average of 26.5 points including a dismal 118th ranking in
passing yards. This will be especially important since the Gators
wont be able to rely on the kicking game with Caleb Sturgis gone also
to the Dolphins.
The Gators once again have a fairly tough schedule with several
rivalries reignited in 2013. Did I mention that there are four teams
(all from the SEC-East) who have an open date prior to facing the
Gators including Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Georgia, and South Carolina?
Try to convince me that’s not some sucky damn scheduling that was
supposed to be fixed after Bama had 6 opponents who had open dates
prior to facing them.
Florida opens the season with MAC representative Toledo Rockets, who
ranked 44th in offense and 67th defensively in the nation last season.
Am I scared? Um… no. The Rockets wins came from Wyoming, Bowling
Green, Coastal Carolina, Western Mich, Central Mich, Eastern Mich,
Cincinnati, Buffalo and Akron. Those wins came at an average margin
of 9.7 points. Their losses were handed to them by @Arizona (in OT),
Ball State, Northern Illinois, and Utah State (in the Famous Idaho
Potato Bowl). Those losses were by an average of 12.5 points. Taking
Arizona to OT is impressive.. but the Arizona defense was awful
allowing 35.3 points per game. Toledo won’t have as easy of a time
vs. the Gator defense. However, the Gators have a way of playing down
to their competition and at realllllly slow starts. We will probably
be shaking our heads the first quarter and a half before they wake
up.. but Florida will shut them down and pull this one out in the
second half. Gators by 17.
One of the grand rivalries renewed… well this year anyway. The last
time these two teams played, Urban Meyer still coached the Florida
Gators en route to another National Championship and Randy Shannon was
coach of the scUM Will-O-The-Wisps. Gators took the wind out of their
sails 26-3 in 2008. This time the Gators head to south Florida to
once again face scUM with third year coach’s Will Muschamp and Al
Golden. Since 2011, Golden is 13-11 at scUM. The Will-O-The-Wisps
offense ranked 49th with an average of 31.4 points per game and 85th
defensively allowing an average of 30.5 points. In 2012, the
Will-O-The-Wisps had wins against @Boston College, Bethune-Cookman,
@GaTech, NC State, VirginiaTech, South Florida and Duke with an
average margin of victory by 15 points. Their losses came by the
hands of @Kansas State, @Notre Dame, North Carolina, FSUcks and
Virginia by a average margin of 19 points and 0-3 vs. Top 25 teams.
Here’s the kicker… scUM has yet to find out their fate from the NCAA
and some rumors out there that they may find out just before the
season starts. The Hurrilames do return senior QB Stephen Morris who
accounted for 3345 yards and 21 touchdowns. You can expect Miami to
be fired up for this game and probably continued improvements in Al
Goldens third year…. But the Gators who will probably have one of the
best defenses in the country again in 2013 will be too much
defensively for the Hurrilames. Gators by 13.
9/14 OPEN DATE
The Vawls are only one of two SEC-East opponents that the Gators will
face that do not have an open date the week prior. Since 2008, the
Gators have an average margin of butt whoopin over the Hillbillies by
15 points. However, the Gator winning streak over the Vawls extends
back to 2005. For you Jawjuh and Vawl fans, that’s 7 straight years
of victories in this… well is it really a rivalry anymore? The
Hillbillies improved to a record of 5-7 in 2012 from a 5-7 record in
2011. In the last two seasons, the Vawls have two victories over two
teams in SEC Play. Vanderbilt (2011) and Kentucky (2012). In other
words, no significant victories to speak of. In 2012, Tennessee
actually had one of the better offenses in the entire country, but
they couldn’t stop even the worst of offenses to get one in the W
column. As a result, Dooley is out, and enter Butch Jones formerly of
Cincinnati. Butch won’t have Bray or Hunter though and Tennessee will
have question marks all over the place except maybe the Offensive
Line. Gators have the Hillbillies at home and send em back to
RockyTop with an 8th straight loss by 14.
First SEC Opponent with an Open date vs. the Gators. I’ve lost track
of the Gator winning streak over the Wildcats, but in the last 5
seasons, the Gators margin of win has come by an average of 40.4
points. Guess we know why The Joker was replaced by former defensive
coordinator Mark Stoops as head coach. Kentucky had two victories
last season. None of them vs. a Top 25 and none vs. a SEC team.
Stoops appears to be recruiting well and the Wildcat fan base seems to
be fired up, but there’s lots and lots and lots still to do in
Lexington still. Stoops may scheme up some scares in 2013… but I
think its gonna be a tough first year as head coach. Gators by 27.
Bret Bielema will be making his first trip into one of the most
hostile territories in all of college football. Welcome to the SEC
and The Swamp. Bret Bielema went 68-24 as Wisconsin head coach from
2006-2012 and acquiring three Rose Bowl births all ending in a loss.
Bielema is taking over an 4-8 Arkansas team from 2012 and only 2 SEC
win (vs. Auburn and Kentucky). Neither really anything to write home
about. The Hogs will have faced La-Lafayette, Samford, Southern Miss,
@Rutgers, and Texas A&M before heading east to play THE FLORIDA
GATORS. It is highly likely that they will be 4-1 by this point and
still struggling to take whatever pieces they have and making it fit
and productive. This may be the breakout game for the Gator passing
game. In 2012, the Hogs gave up 397 passing yards to Rutgers and 200
yards to just about everyone else. The Hog running game was about
like the Gator Receiving game in 2012.. nearly non-existent. Florida
should be able to dominate this game.. but Bielema and crew will do
their best to keep things interesting. Chomp Chomp Chomp by 17.
This is the game Les Miles did everything in his power to get rid of.
He scurrrred. In a way though, you can’t blame him when you gotta
face the likes of Alabama, Texas A&M and the rest of the SEC-West
gauntlet. Oh wait.. yes I can. Because when they lost to Kentucky
and nearly ruined their chances at winning the National Championship…
you have to bet the pollsters saw that win in 2007 play a big part
into their strength of schedule. LSU is coming off of a 10-3 season
in 2012 with losses to THE FLORIDA GATORS in The Swamp, Alabama and
Clemson (in the Bible Thumper Bowl). Their margin for a loss came by
an average of 4.3 points. LSU’s problem, like Floridas, was their
offense, primarily their passing game averaging only 200.5 yards a
game. Zach Mettenberger is back and under the influence of new
Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron formerly of the NFLs Baltimore
Ravens. Both teams are expected to improve offensively in 2012 and
both teams will have faced some good tests before this annual meeting.
The Tigers will have faced TCU, UAB, Kent State, Auburn, @Jawjuh, and
@Miss State. Since 2008, the average margin of points for victory has
come down to 17 points due to a few lopsided victories for both sides.
Otherwise this game has come down to an average of 7 points. I am
under the belief that this will be even cloer than that thanks to the
Mad Hatter bag of tricks and some well timed defensive stops. Tigers
at home by 3.
The Battle of the Super Journalism Schools continues! Mizzou got a
got a pretty rude awakening in their first SEC season and were one win
away from becoming bowl eligible. That win nearly came at the Gators
in 2012. Mizzou lost by an average margin of 17 points over 7 games
in 2012 and by only 7 to the Gators. This time the Gators travel to
Columbia to face a Mizzou team with the same QB only under the
direction of a new Offensive Coordinator. Mizzou will scare again,
and be bowl eligible in 2013, but not because they beat the Gators.
Gators by10 and become bowl eligible.
10/26 OPEN DATE
11/2 Jawjuh (in Jacksonville)
Welcome my friends… to yet another Worlds Largest Outdoor Cocktail
Party from lovely Jacksonville, Fl where the Mighty Gators will face
the SlobberMutts in yet other battle between bitter mutually hated
rivals. This is the second SEC-East team with an open date before
playing the Gators. The Mutts managed to squeak out two lucky wins
two years in a row and earned them a bid to represent the East in the
SEC Championship game (thanks to lucky ass scheduling)… where they
came up 5 yards short. As if this game wasn’t already circled on every
Orange and Blue bloods calendar, the Gators should be extra angry and
motivated. In 2012, this game was just about as ugly as the damn
UGAly mascot including 24 penalties for 227 yards, and 9 turnovers
(including 3 INTs for Murray, 2 for Driskel). THE FLORIDA GATORS won
the 3rd down conversion game going 7-16 compared to 1-10 for the
Mutts. Florida also, surprisingly enough won the passing game with
191 vs. 150.. but Jawjuh won the rushing game with 123 compared to 75
for the Gators. The Leghumpers and the Gators are both a bit depleted
due to NFL departures, but the Gators have the edge with a slightly
deeper defense and probably better offensive line (we hope).
Therefore I suspect this will be a season the PoundPuppies sit and
heel. The Gators should be much better offensively. The good guys
should win by 3.
Well well well… look whose been bowl eligible two years in a row and
owning the state of Tennessee. Lets face it though, with Vandy it’s a
bit of smoke and mirrors. They have had the luxury of a few SEC-East
teams down on their luck and otherwise with a relatively soft
schedule. Vandy was also handed the opportunity to be the third
SEC-East team the Gators will face with an open date the prior week.
That being said, Gators handled Vandy 31-17 in Opryland, and I suspect
after an early typical Homecoming scare… then the Gators come out of
their football coma and handle business convincingly. Gators by 17.
11/16 @South Carolina
In 2012, Spurrier returned to the The Swamp and left with his
Gamecocks feathered after a 44-11 loss. The Gators literally shut
down and dominated the Chickens in The Swamp last season. Ya think the
Ole Ball Coach, who gave Ben Hill Griffin it’s nickname is gonna
forget that? Um no. This will be a keep the Nitro in your hand at all
times kinda game, this year in the other Columbia. The Cocks also
have the advantage of being the fourth SEC-East team that has the week
off before facing the Gators. The Cockadoodledoos will be rabid..
but I think the Gators squeak this out in the fourth quarter and may
cement the Gators return to Atlanta to face their SEC West foe in the
SEC Championship Game.
11/23 Georgia Southern
Triple Option. Ok fine. Gonna join the SunBelt to play big boy
football? Umm ok. Fine. They are still over matched. Gator
starters will be pulled after the 3rd quarter… and Gators cruise to a
huge win while the Gator band does their best to keep the crowd from
taking a nap while the coaches scheme for the Smellinoles on the
sidelines. Gators by 30.
Shoving a win down the Smellinoles throats on Blobby Bowden field was
the perfect ending to such a fantastic turnaround season for the
Gators. Clown College U ended the 2012 season with the 10th best
offense averaging 39.3 points per game, and the 6th best defense
allowing only an average of 14.7 points. Those wins came from Murray
State, Savannah State, Wake Forest, Clemson, @South Florida, Boston
College, @Miami, Duke, @VaTech, @Maryland in the regular season. The
Criminoles return to The Swamp in 2013 after yet another fairly decent
recruiting season haul. But, there is quite some turnover in staff,
after Mark Stoops bolted to his first head coaching job at Kensucky,
taking some assistants with him. The last trip the Tallawhackians made
to The Swamp they left with a “W”… that wont happen this go around.
And I predict, that FSU may not even make the ACC Championship game.
Gators own the state beating the Noles by 13.
If all goes as planned and the Gators continue their level of
improvements since Muschamp has taken over, they should have an 11-1
season, represent the SEC-East in the Championship game likely facing
the former National Champions.. and perhaps earn a spot in the
National Championship game. There really is no game on the schedule
that this team cant or shouldn’t win. But it is always a gauntlet
going on the road to places like Death Valley and Williams-Bryce.