The wait is finally over, it’s time for a Top-10 SEC showdown in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. The No. 10 Florida Gators (5-0, 2-0) host the No. 7 Auburn Tigers (5-0, 2-0) in arguably the most anticipated game in The Swamp since 2012.
This marks the first time the two programs will play since 2007, rekindling a storied SEC-rivalry. On top of that, College Gameday is back in Gainesville for the first time since 2012. There’s no way around it, this game is a big one.
Playoff hopes for both will be on the line come Saturday. Auburn enters as the favorite, while the Gators are looking to show the world that they are for real. Head coach Dan Mullen has reiterated it many times, these games are the reason you come to Florida.
The Gators have a great chance to make a statement this weekend, but it will be no easy task. With that being said, here are the five Gators on the spot this week should they pull off the upset of the Auburn Tigers.
- Brett Heggie, Offensive Lineman
After an injury-riddled 2018, offensive guard Brett Heggie looks to be back to form for Florida. He has arguably been one of their top lineman this year, and earned SEC Lineman of the Week for Week 4. But this week, Heggie and the Gators line have a whole new challenge against the Auburn defensive line, one that is regarded as the best in the country. As one of the veterans along the line, the Gators need Heggie to push some Tigers around. Heggie’s versatility has been a big factor for the Gators offensive line this year, as he can play both guard spots and might be asked to do just that against Auburn. No matter where he is along the line, the Gators need Heggie at his best.
- Kyree Campbell, Defensive Lineman
he Gators defensive tackle was not shy in making it known that he is fired up for this game. If Kyree Campbell has a good day in the middle of Florida’s defensive-line, they should like their chances. Auburn is a run-heavy team and they run in every which direction. The Gators defense will see a lot of movement from the Tigers offense, but it will be important that they are stout in the middle. Auburn is rushing for 251 yards per game and have a beast in the backfield in JaTarvious Whitlow, who already has seven touchdowns this year. The big fella has been fired up all week for this game, and the Gators need him to be a menace in the middle of their D-line
- Lamical Perine, Running Back
We’ve said it once, so we might as well say it one more time this week. Lamical Perine needs to get going for the Gators, badly. Thus far, Perine has been outperformed by backup Dameon Pierce. The case could already be made to start giving Pierce more carries, but Dan Mullen isn’t jumping ship on his playmaking running back just yet. He hasn’t lived up to the expectations placed on him entering the year, but not all the blame falls on him. The running game alone has had too many missed assignments according to Mullen. But come Saturday, that can’t be the case. Florida needs to provide Perine the space to make plays and he needs to take advantage of that and then some. One could expect Perine to be running extra hard this week, facing a team from his home-state. The Alabama native should be jacked up for this game, and the Gators could use a similar Homecoming performance from Perine that they had last year, as he found the end zone twice against LSU.
- Jabari Zuniga, Defensive Lineman
Welcome back Jabari Zuniga. The Gators standout defensive end will return this week with a number of teammates after missing the last two games and the end of the Kentucky game. Florida will sure hope he doesn’t have any rust, as he will be needed big time. His ability to get after the passer is one thing, but Zuniga is also just as valuable when it comes to stopping the run. Auburn’s run-attack is well documented, with a number of talented backs, an implemented run game for receivers and let’s not forget the top dual threat quarterback prospect in the 2019 class. Setting the edge will be key for the Gators and with Zuniga back, they should do a better job of that then in weeks past. And with the opposing quarterback being a true freshman, you can bet Zuniga and the Gators pass-rushers will be pinning their ears back looking to put Bo Nix under pressure.
- Kyle Trask, Quarterback
This one is a no brainer. Whoever was going to be under center for the Gators this game is on the spot for this showdown. With the given circumstances of the season, it’s Kyle Trask who has to be up to the task in order for Florida to get the win. For the third straight week, all eyes will be on the Gators new signal caller. Now making his third career start, there’s no question this is the biggest one. So far, Trask has impressed. He’s completed 77% of his passes, thrown for five scores and has posted a quarterback rating of 81.9. Against a talented defense, Trask can show the world he is for real. The Tigers defense is led by their stout defensive line and front-seven, however their secondary has some question marks. Opponents have been averaging 225 pass yards against the Tigers, which should be welcoming sight for the Gators. They’ve been airing it out more as of a late, and that could be the case Saturday if the run-game struggles. Should the Gators pull off the upset, they need Trask to continue on the road he’s on. He’s already had his moment as Florida Gator on the road against Kentucky, but now he has the chance for another one, this time in front of the Gator Nation.