The Florida Gators got off to a solid start in 2013, only to have the wheels fall off by season’s end. The team finished with a record of 4-8, the program’s worst finish since going winless back in 1979.
Despite the poor season, head coach Will Muschamp and his staff were still able to put together one of the top rated recruiting classes in the entire country. Expectations in Gainesville remain as high as ever. While the team may not be National Championship contenders in 2014, they will be expected to contend in the SEC East.
With that in mind, let’s take a game-by-game look at Florida’s 2014 schedule.
Aug. 30: Idaho
Florida will open its 2014 season against an unfamiliar foe, the Idaho Vandals. It will mark the first ever meeting between the schools. The Vandals are coming off a disappointing 1-11 season under first-year head coach Paul Petrino. Idaho is set to join the Sun Belt Conference after spending last season as an independent.
Sept. 6: Eastern Michigan
The Eagles will make their second ever trip to the Swamp for Florida’s second game of the season. The Gators will be hoping for a similar result from the schools first meeting in the 2004 season opener, when Ron Zook’s Gators came away with a 49-10 win over the Eagles.
Sept. 13: Kentucky
The Gators open up conference play against the Wildcats for the first time since 2001. Florida will be looking for its 28th straight win over Kentucky, which is currently the nation’s longest winning streak over a major opponent in an annual series. However, the streak could be in jeopardy, as Kentucky should be much improved under second-year head coach Mark Stoops after landing a Top 20 recruiting class in the country.
Sept. 20: at Alabama
Florida hits the road for the first time in 2014 when it heads to Tuscaloosa to take on the Crimson Tide. This is arguably the toughest game on Florida’s schedule and likely marks the Gators first loss of the season.
Oct. 4: at Tennessee
Florida defeated Tennessee 31-17 at home this past season, but could have a tougher time on the road against the Volunteers in 2014. Neyland Stadium is one of the more hostile places to play in the conference and second-year head coach Butch Jones put together one of the highest rated recruiting classes in the country.
Oct. 11: LSU
The cross-divisional rivalry will continue in 2014. This matchup has been pretty back-and-forth in recent years, as the Gators have gone 7-7 against the Tigers since the 2000 season.
Oct. 18: Missouri
Missouri rebounded marvelously after a disastrous first season in the Southeastern Conference. The Tigers finished 2013 with a record of 12-2 and represented the Eastern division in the SEC Championship. Missouri will be replacing some key players as quarterback James Franklin, running back Henry Josey and defensive ends Michael Sam and Kony Ealy have all either graduated or left early for the NFL Draft. It should make for an interesting matchup in the Swamp in 2014.
Nov. 1: Georgia (in Jacksonville)
The annual Florida-Georgia game is one of the best rivalries in all of college football, but it has been pretty one-sided as of late. Head coach Will Muschamp has never defeated the Bulldogs in each of his three seasons at Florida. A former Georgia safety, Muschamp will be looking to get off the snide against his alma mater in 2014.
Nov. 8: at Vanderbilt
The Commodores got their first win in Gainesville since 1945 last season and will be looking to start a win streak of their own against the Gators. New Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason will be looking to build off the success of his predecessor James Franklin.
Nov. 15: South Carolina
As long as Steve Spurrier is the head coach in Columbia, this game will always be one of the most highly anticipated games on Florida’s schedule.
Nov. 22: Eastern Kentucky
I would call this the ‘gimmie’ game on Florida’s schedule, but after last season’s debacle against FCS opponent Georgia Southern, it is important to remember to not overlook any game on the schedule.
Nov. 29: at Florida State
The Gators completely dismantled the Seminoles in their last trip to Tallahassee in 2012, only to have Jameis Winston and the ‘Noles return the favor in Gainesville this past season in route to a National Championship victory. As is always the case there will be big-time implications on the line in the in-state rivalry game.
All in all, Florida’s schedule seems much more difficult than last season’s, particularly that grueling eight-game stretch of conference games. If Muschamp and the Gators can come away with eight or maybe nine wins, the fanbase should be pleased.
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