Florida's schedule looks pretty winnable
Published: Monday, July 11, 2011 at 12:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, July 10, 2011 at 11:50 p.m.
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Much is being made of Florida's brutal October schedule. Some are calling it the gauntlet - back-to-back games against Alabama, LSU, Auburn and Georgia.
It's tough, all right, I'll agree with that. But if you look at those games individually (instead of as a group), every one of those games is winnable for the Gators. I'm not predicting that will happen. I'm just saying Florida is going to have a chance in each and every one of those games.
Given that idea, I thought I would rank those four games, in my opinion, in order of toughness.
1. LSU (Baton Rouge) - This is the toughest because it's on the road and it's against the team that may have the best and most pure talent in the SEC. But I'll give you three pretty good reasons why I think Florida can (and maybe will) win this game: The Gators have had some impressive success at Tiger Stadium in the past (and if Ron Zook can win here, then Will Muschamp certainly can), LSU's quarterback situation remains a question mark (at least in my mind), and this is a pressure-free game for the Gators, while the Tigers must contend with all these preseason expectations. I would not be shocked to see Florida pull this one off.
2. Alabama (Gainesville) - The Alabama defense might be the best in the country, and it's capable of carrying this talented team a very long way. But here's why this game is winnable for UF: The Gators are at home, they're going to be jacked after last year's embarrassing loss at Tuscaloosa, and Alabama's new starting quarterback will be experiencing the unique intensity of an SEC road game for the first time. Alabama plays at Penn State on Sept. 10, but the environment in Gainesville will be much different, much more hostile.
3. Georgia (Jacksonville) - Aaron Murray is, arguably, the best quarterback in the SEC and should have a huge sophomore season. But do I really need to explain why this game is winnable for UF? OK, I will any how. The Gators own the ‘Dogs. If Georgia could not beat a staggering Florida team last season, what makes anyone think the ‘Dogs can this season?
4. Auburn (Auburn) - This game looked at whole lot tougher last season when Cam Newton, a junior, elevated the Tigers from a pretty good team to a national championship team. With Newton gone, along with dominant defensive tackle Nick Fairly, the Tigers will be rebuilding and will have some struggles along the way. UF has had problems at Jordan-Hare Stadium down through the years, but I really like this match-up for Florida.
It's a grueling October run for the Gators, but it may not turn out as dire as some are predicting.
As a former UF head coach used to say, the Gators have a chance.