Gator Fans Anxious? Weeks 4-6 Predictions

After the first three weeks of the season, Gator fans will have a clearer picture of what the season holds. If they go into week four undefeated, fans will be claiming that the Gators are back to competing for championships. However, if there are one or somehow two slipups, many will be clamoring for Billy Napier’s job. After the first three weeks, the schedule doesn’t ease up for the team in Orange and Blue. During weeks four through six, the Gators take on two more SEC opponents and an in-state nuisance. Arguably the easiest three-game stretch of the season, the Gators must not slip up. With a bye week sprinkled in between games four and five, they should be well-rested. With a brutal finish to the season awaiting, the Gators must take advantage of the lighter portion of their schedule.

Feels Like 2018

Week four sends the Gators to Starkville, Mississippi to play the Mississippi State Bulldogs. It’s been quite a while since these two matched up, with the Gators winning the last showdown back in 2018. With Florida being the away team, this stadium will be rocking with cowbells and plenty of noise. Not picked by many to be a top SEC team, Mississippi State will still prove tough to beat at home. Losing long-time starting quarterback Will Rogers to Washington, the Bulldogs were forced to turn to the transfer portal. Recruiting former Baylor quarterback Blake Shapen, it will be up to new coach Jeff Lebby to hone his skills. The former Oklahoma offensive coordinator will have his work cut out for him in a tough conference. With so many new additions, this could be a tough first season in Starkville. This is a game the Gators must win.

Bye Week

A much-needed break, this bye week comes at an opportune time for the Florida Gators. After their road trip, the Gators will have some time to recover and reflect on the last few weeks. With more teams being added to the SEC, and a grueling schedule, there will now be two bye weeks. The Gators must take advantage of this time, as the schedule will only get harder. And the Gators hit the ground running.

Bowl Game Revenge?

Finishing the 2021 season on quite a rough patch, the Gators were dominated in their bowl game by UCF. Now with a completely different regime, the Gators still have yet to eclipse seven wins in a season. With this game taking place in the Swamp, UCF will be eager to come in and ruin the party. Having had a successful decade of football, the Knights want an opportunity to prove they are the best in Florida. Losing starting quarterback John Rys Plumlee, the Knights now have another veteran at the helm. They brought in former Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson, whom the Gators don’t exactly remember fondly. Jefferson accounted for three touchdowns, with over 250 passing yards and nearly 100 rushing yards in their last meeting. With some real talent around him such as running back RJ Harvey, this is a dangerous offense. Florida’s defense must step up and take away the running game to find success.

Rocky Top Nemesis

One of the lone highlights of last season, the Gators knocked off number 11-ranked Tennessee in the Swamp. Controlling the game how they pleased, fans were convinced that Florida was going to have a successful season. Yet, after that, they went 3-6 for the remainder of the season, failing to make a bowl game. Now with quarterback Joe Milton gone for the Vols, many of their fans are actually excited. With former 5-star Nico Iamaleava now at the helm, fans are intrigued by the young man’s talent. Having receivers Bru McCoy and Squirrel White returning, the offense is littered with talent. Taking place in Knoxville this year, the Vols are no doubt eager to avenge last season’s loss. With some real aspirations for this season, this will be a season-defining clash for both parties. For the Gators, they must not be swayed by this hostile environment.

The Predictions:  Through 6 Weeks: 5-1

Considering the last article’s predictions, these three weeks will be pivotal. Predicting the Gators to start 3-0, they could be looking at quite a hot start. To reiterate the Gators begin their road schedule with a trip to Starkville to take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Thought of by many as being a lower-tier SEC team, the Gators should be able to handle business. At this point in the offseason, I would predict a 31 to 14 victory for the Gators. Against the UCF Knights, the Gators’ defense will be put in a tight position. With quarterback KJ Jefferson being as mobile as he is, players like Jason Marshall Jr. must step up. The core of Pup Howard and Shemar James at the linebacker spot need to take away Jefferson’s ability to run the ball. For now, I would say that the Gators are up to the challenge.

The Gators offense, led by Graham Mertz at quarterback, should prove too much for this UCF defense. With playmakers such as Montrell Johnson Jr. and Tre Wilson expected to have big days, I’m leaning toward a Gator victory. This will be close for three quarters before the Gators pull away late. Now, the biggest challenge of the season so far, going into Knoxville will be no easy task. Despite having a new quarterback, Iamaleava is a former 5-star who guided the Vols to a victory in their bowl game. The Volunteers will be hungry to avenge last season’s shocking loss to the Gators. I’m expecting a close one throughout with both offenses flexing their muscles. Unfortunately for Gator fans, I think this might be where the undefeated season comes to an end. I’m giving the Vols a slight advantage and would expect a late game-winning drive.

Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

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