Florida Football 3-2-1: A closer look at the schedule

Aug 19, 2020 | 0 comments


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Football is in the air. The Gators held their first practice since December on Monday morning, and, on Monday night, the SEC unveiled its week-by-week schedule. Each team will play 10 conference games with one bye week starting on Sept. 26. The entire league will receive an additional bye week on Dec. 12 before the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 19.

For those who need a reminder, here is the Gators’ modified 2020 schedule:

  • Sept. 26: @Ole Miss
  • Oct. 3: South Carolina
  • Oct. 10: @Texas A&M
  • Oct. 17: LSU
  • Oct. 24: Missouri
  • Oct. 31: Bye
  • Nov. 7: Georgia (Jacksonville)
  • Nov. 14: Arkansas
  • Nov. 21: @Vanderbilt
  • Nov. 28: Kentucky
  • Dec. 5: @Tennessee

Now that we know the Gators’ schedule, it’s time to start looking ahead at how their season might play out. Here are three observations, two questions and one prediction about the schedule. While it’s possible that some games might be postponed or canceled, for the purpose of this assessment, we’ll assume that every game will be played as currently scheduled.

Three Observations

1. The first thing that jumps off of the page is the different date for the Florida-Georgia game. This will be the latest the two teams have met since 1991, and Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin said a few weeks ago that he didn’t envision the game moving from its original Oct. 31 date due to the logistics involved with using an NFL stadium. The Jacksonville Jaguars are scheduled to play at home the day after the game under the new schedule. Both teams will still have a bye week before the game. The new date could be an advantage for Florida. Georgia has to play Auburn at home and at Alabama within the first four weeks of the season. If they lose both of those games, they might be deflated by the time they get to Jacksonville.

2. The schedule-makers did UF favors with the placements of the Texas A&M, Kentucky, and Arkansas games. Texas A&M and Kentucky both have to play at Alabama the week prior to facing the Gators. Alabama is one of the most talented and physical teams in the country every year, and teams often experience a hangover effect the week after getting bludgeoned by the Crimson Tide. Texas A&M is comparable talent-wise to Florida, and the Gators have struggled with Kentucky over the last six years. Playing worn-down versions of these teams should be to the Gators’ advantage. The Arkansas game is advantageous in that it’s scheduled for the week after the Georgia game. If Florida beats Georgia, you’d normally have to worry about a major letdown the following week. On the flip side, if they lose to the Bulldogs, you’d have to worry about the disappointment of one loss leading to a clunker the next time out. In fact, UF has lost the game after Georgia in four of the past six years. That shouldn’t be a problem this year. The Razorbacks haven’t won a league game since 2017 and didn’t get to go through the spring under first-year coach Sam Pittman.

3. The Texas A&M-LSU back-to-back will define the season. Yes, most people expect the game in Jacksonville to decide the SEC East, but, if the Gators lose to Texas A&M and LSU, will that game even matter? Florida needs to split these games at the very least and should have a decent chance of winning both. The Aggies have underachieved greatly in their first two seasons under Jimbo Fisher, and LSU has to replace most of the key contributors and coaches from its historic national championship-winning team. Get past this early season gauntlet and Gator fans can start dreaming of a championship.

Two Questions

1. On paper, the only teams UF could possibly lose to are Texas A&M, LSU, and Georgia. Of course, that’s not how college football usually plays out. There are always one or two games that end up being way more challenging than you’d expect them to be. Where are the trap games on this schedule? The two biggest candidates seem to be the South Carolina and Missouri games. The Gamecocks are sandwiched in between Ole Miss and Texas A&M and seem to play their best early in the season. They pulled off a monster upset at Georgia in 2019 and will be looking to do the same at Florida this year. Meanwhile, the Missouri game is in between LSU and the bye week, a notorious time for players to check out mentally. Plus, the Tigers have given the Gators fits since joining the SEC in 2012.

2. Will this year’s season finale at Tennessee go better than the last time the Gators closed the season against the Volunteers? That meeting, of course, was in 2001 when the game was rescheduled for early December due to the 9/11 attacks. Tennessee won that game to spoil the Gators’ national championship aspirations and deal a damaging blow to Rex Grossman’s Heisman campaign. This year’s game was also rescheduled to early December due to unforeseen circumstances. Will the result be different?

One Prediction

1. UF will enter the Georgia game undefeated. South Carolina, Missouri, and Ole Miss are in varying stages of disrepair, Texas A&M has made an annual tradition of doing less with more and LSU can’t possibly replace all of the production it lost even with excellent recruiting. As it usually does, everything will hinge on the showdown in Jacksonville. If they find a way to get past the Bulldogs, an undefeated regular season will be within reach. Lose that game for the fourth year in a row and this season will feel like a wasted opportunity.

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