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Abolverdi's Analysis: FCS matchup just what doctor ordered for struggling Gators

Zach Abolverdi
Gator Sports

Death, taxes and wins over FCS teams. 

That could be said about the Florida football program until 2013, when the Gators suffered a 26-20 loss to Georgia Southern. 

They won just four games that year and again in 2017. If Samford upsets UF on Saturday, another four-win season could be looming. 

Florida is 20-1 against FCS opponents dating back to 1981, outscoring them by an average margin of 39.8 points.

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More:How to watch Florida Gators football vs. Samford Bulldogs on live stream

Since the Georgia Southern loss, the Gators have played five FCS teams and four under coach Dan Mullen. Mullen has won those games by a combined score of 199-16, including shutouts over UT Martin (45-0) and Towson (38-0) in 2019. 

The Bulldogs haven’t been blanked since 2019 and average 36.8 points per game this season, which ranks 10th in FBS and first in the Southern Conference for scoring offense. 

Florida, meanwhile, has given up 123 points in its last three games, which ultimately cost Todd Grantham his job. Can Grantham’s protégé, UF interim defensive coordinator Christian Robinson, pitch a shutout in his play-calling debut?

The Gators beat Vandy on homecoming, 42-0, but haven’t won a game since. Their losing streak will come to an end Saturday, but it won't be in shutout fashion. 

Samford has a strong passing attack with quarterback Liam Welch, who ranks seventh in the FCS with 2,697 passing yards. He will orchestrate some scoring drives, just not enough to keep up with Florida. 

Florida running back Dameon Pierce (27) celebrates running back Malik Davis (20) after catching a touchdown pass in the second half of an NCAA college football game against LSU in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

The Gators should rediscover their groove on the ground, especially if they pound it with Dameon Pierce, and quarterback Anthony Richardson's return will give fans something to look forward to in the future. 

Along with Richardson getting more first-team reps, look for Robinson to possibly make one or two changes to the starting lineup on defense. This will also be a game for young players to see the field once UF takes control. 

Prediction: Florida 41, Samford 13