As we inch closer to the start of the season, it’s time to review the schedules of every SEC team.
Whether it’s home vs. road, nonconference matchups or potential trap games, there’s a lot to get into.
Next up in the series are the Florida Gators.
Nonconference opponents (with 2015 record)
Sept. 3; vs. UMass (3-9)
Sept. 17: vs. North Texas (1-11)
Nov. 19: vs. Presbyterian (2-9)
Nov. 26: at Florida State (10-3)
SEC home games
Sept. 10: vs. Kentucky (5-7)
Oct. 8: vs. LSU (9-3)
Oct. 15: vs. Missouri (5-7)
Nov. 12: vs. South Carolina (3-9)
SEC road games
Sept. 24: at Tennessee (9-4)
Oct. 1: at Vanderbilt (4-8)
Nov. 5: at Arkansas (8-5)
SEC neutral-site game
Oct. 29: vs. Georgia (10-3) (in Jacksonville, Florida)
Gut-check time: The game against Tennessee in Knoxville is huge; there's just no doubt about it. But it isn't going to define the season for the Gators -- win or lose. What will is the stretch that comes a couple weeks after. From Oct. 8 to Nov. 5, the Gators will have to be at their best. Things start with a home game against an LSU team that might be the SEC's most talented team. Florida then hosts what will likely be a struggling Missouri team that has plenty of defensive bite before heading to Jacksonville to face a Georgia team that could be hitting its stride at this point in the season. Next is a trip to Fayetteville to face an Arkansas team that has been tough to stop late in the season over the past few years. The good news is that three of these games are in the state of Florida, but this isn't a time for the Gators to rest on that one bit.
Trap game: You could easily say that the road game against what should be an improved Vanderbilt team the week after facing Tennessee would be considered a trap game for Florida. But I'm going with the Mizzou game. No one is giving this Tigers team much of a chance to do much of anything in 2016, but after what should be a very physical game with LSU the week prior, these Gators are likely going to be exhausted and will have to face yet another talented defense. We still don't know what to expect from Florida's offense and we know Mizzou will bring a talented, aggressive defense to the Swamp. Not to mention that Florida has a bye week after before facing Georgia. It could be easy for the Gators to overlook this group of Tigers, but with Mizzou rebuilding and under the radar, that would be unwise.
Final analysis: This isn't the most daunting schedule by any stretch of the imagination. Road games against Tennessee, Arkansas and Florida State will no doubt be very challenging for the Gators, but this is a manageable schedule for the defending SEC Eastern Division champions. For starters, outside of Florida State, the Gators' nonconference slate is an absolute joke. If Florida doesn't win each of those by at least 40, the team should have to donate 10 scholarships to the baseball team. The stretch from October to the first week of November should define Florida's season. If they can get out of there with no more than two losses on the season, Florida should be headed back to Atlanta for the SEC title game.