The college football season has already started but the SEC begins their season this Saturday. The Florida Gators will also begin their season as they enter their third season in the Dan Mullen era. Today, we’ll break down the five toughest matchups on Florida’s schedule.
Florida had a terrific 2019 season as they went 11-2 with an Orange Bowl victory over the Virginia Cavaliers. While they lost a lot of talent to the NFL, the Gators are still one of the top teams in the country.
Florida returns their starting quarterback, Kyle Trask, along with some of their top pass catchers from last seasons like Kyle Pitts and Trevon Grimes. The Gators also reloaded on the defense with the addition of former five-star EDGE rusher Brenton Cox Jr.
Expectations are high for the Gators as some media outlets project them to win the SEC East division and potentially make their first appearance in the College Football Playoffs. However, the Gators don’t have an easy path as they’ll face five nationally ranked teams in their ten-game schedule. Here are Florida’s five toughest match-ups their schedule.
1. Georgia Bulldogs
The Georgia Bulldogs are once again one of the top five ranked teams in the country but do have some question marks on offense. Going into fall camp, Wake Forest transfer Jamie Newman was expected to be named the starting quarterback for the Bulldogs.
Newman didn’t last at Georgia as he announced earlier this month that he has opted out of the 2020 season will enter the NFL Draft. Without Newman at quarterback, Georgia has a two-man quarterback battle between USC transfer J.T. Daniels and redshirt-freshman D’Wan Mathis.
While their offense has some question marks, their defense is very talented and should be one of the best in the country. If Florida wants to get back to Atlanta, they must snap their three-game losing streak to Georgia.
2. LSU Tigers
The LSU Tigers are coming off a National Championship season in which they were led by Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow, Fred Biletnikoff Award winner Ja’Marr Chase and running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. The bad news for the Tigers is none of them are with the team anymore.
The Tigers will need to replace a plethora of starters as they’ll only have two returning starters on offense and four returning starters on defense. Myles Brennan will be starting quarterback at LSU and nobody really knows what to expect since he hasn’t played much during his collegiate career.
The Tigers should still be a competitive team this season but it doesn’t look like they’ll be defending their national championship title. Florida gets them at home which should help their chances of getting the win over LSU.
3. Texas A&M Aggies
The Texas A&M Aggies are a team that the Gators usually don’t see on their schedule. Florida got them on their schedule when the SEC went to a 10-game All-SEC schedule. Two SEC West teams were added on Florida’s schedule as they got Texas A&M and Arkansas.
The Aggies have one of the top returning quarterbacks in the SEC with Kellen Mond. The senior quarterback is looking to have a breakout season to improve on his draft stock. He will have to do that without his top returning receiver. Wideout Jhamon Ausbon announced on September 13th that he has opted out of the 2020 season to focus on the NFL Draft.
The Aggies also lost some key guys on defense as cornerback Elijah Blades and linebacker Anthony Hines both opted out and were projected starters heading into this season. Texas A&M lost a lot of talent and will rely on third-year head coach Jimbo Fisher to get them back on track.
4. Kentucky Wildcats
The Kentucky Wildcats have given Florida a lot of troubles in the past few years. Just last season, the Gators were down in the fourth quarter and lost Feleipe Franks for the season due to an ankle injury. Trask came into the game and helped Florida score 19 unanswered points and secure the win.
The Wildcats will have their quarterback this season as Terry Wilson is back from his season-ending injury from 2019. The last time Wilson played the Gators was in 2018 as he led Kentucky to their first win over the Florida Gators in 31 years.
Florida will play the Wildcats towards the end of their schedule unlike usual. The Gators could be competing for a chance to win the SEC East and make their first appearance to the SEC Championship Game since 2016. This is definitely a game Florida has circled on their calendar.
5. Tennessee Volunteers
The last game on the Florida’s schedule will be against the Tennessee Volunteers. This is another game the Gators usually play at the beginning of the season but will take on their rivals for the final game of their 2020 season.
The Volunteers have a lot of hype around the team as they finished last season strongly after a horrible start to their season. Senior quarterback Jarrett Guarantano is back for his final season at Tennessee. The Vols also returned some key starts on offense in left guard Trey Smith and running back Ty Chandler. They also added a big-time transfer from Georgia in offensive guard Cade Mays.
On defense, Tennessee has some quality players in defensive lineman Aubrey Solomon and corners Alontae Taylor and Bryce Thompson. This game between Florida and Tennessee could determine Florida’s season and if they win the SEC East or not.