Predicting Muschamp's first year
Published: Tuesday, July 19, 2011 at 12:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, July 18, 2011 at 11:37 p.m.
For my final football fix of the summer, I've decided to take a game-by-game look at how I see Will Muschamp's first season unfolding at Florida:
Florida Atlantic, Sept. 3 — John Brantley will look very good running Charlie Weis' pro-style offense for the first time in a game and the Florida defense will swarm an out-manned FAU offense. It will be successful debut for Muschamp. Prediction: Big UF victory.
Alabama-Birmingham, Sept. 10 — UAB has a lot of athletes and a lot of speed, so Game 2 will not be as easy as the opener. But the Gators' overall edge in talent will help UF take over in the second half. Prediction: Solid UF victory.
Tennessee, Sept. 17 — This is going to be a tough, tough game for the Gators — and a pivotal one in the season. UT is going to be much improved from a year ago and the Vols have a quarterback (Tyler Bray) and some gifted receivers who will give the Gators fits all afternoon in The Swamp. Prediction: Very close UF victory in a game that goes down to the wire.
Kentucky (Lexington), Sept. 24 — The Gators should extend their winning streak over the ‘Cats to 25 games, but this one is not going to be easy. Muschamp's first road game is a potential trap game, for sure. Prediction: UF victory in a game that will not be secured until deep into the second half.
Alabama, Oct. 1 — Just like they did in 2006, the Gators will get revenge for an embarrassing loss in Tuscaloosa the season before. This should be an epic defensive battle. Prediction: Gators in a close one.
LSU (Baton Rouge), Oct. 8 — This will be Muschamp's first loss at Florida, and it will come against an LSU team that has as much overall talent as any team in the nation: UF loss in a very close game.
Auburn (Auburn), Oct. 15 — This game looked a lot tougher on the schedule late last fall. Now that Cam Newton and Nick Fairly have moved on to the NFL early, the Tigers are in a rebuilding mode. Prediction: Close UF victory in a game that won't be decided until late in the fourth quarter.
Georgia (Jacksonville), Oct. 29 — Just have a feeling here that Muschamp's old school is going to give him a bitter pill to swallow in Jacksonville. Prediction: Close UF loss to the ‘Dogs.
Vanderbilt, Nov. 5 — The lowly Commodores will help the Gators recover from a tough loss to Georgia. Prediction: Big UF victory.
South Carolina (Columbia), Nov. 12 — The Spur Dog will find a way to stick the knife in his former school for the second season in a row. Prediction: Close, bitter loss for the Gators.
Furman, Nov. 19 — This will be a typical late-season stat game for the Gators against an inferior (but pretty tough) non-conference foe. Prediction: One-sided Gator victory.
Florida State, Nov. 26 — The Seminoles are going to be ACC champions, but they're going to run into an emotional SEC buzz saw in The Swamp. Prediction: Satisfying Gator upset victory that will give UF momentum heading into 2012..
So, here's what it all adds up to for the Gators in 2011: a 9-3 record overall and 5-3 in the SEC (good for third place in the Eastern Division behind Georgia and South Carolina).