SEC 2009 // The Underdogs Florida Will Face

This is simply an overview of each of the Florida Gators' games this season; predictions come Thursday.

9.5 :: vs. Charleston Southern
Florida starts out the season with its annual game against a completely overmatched FCS team from Charleston. Last year's 70-19 win over The Citadel marked the Gators' second-largest margin of victory in 2008. (Who was on the other side of the largest MOV? Read on.) This game should be over with five minutes left in the first quarter.

9.12 :: vs. Troy
Man, don't kill yourselves with this opening stretch, Gators. Florida will not face a BCS-league bowl team until the end of September (if you count Kentucky's bowl berth via a Sun Belt-style schedule). Troy is about as dangerous as Sun Belt teams get, but that's a distinction that only goes so far.

9.19 :: vs. Tennessee
After a buildup that began in February with Boy Wonder's shot at Cheatin' Urban Meyer, practically everyone in the SEC will be simultaneously sick of this game and unable to pull themselves away from it at the same time. (Admit it -- you'll be watching.) Can Meyer and the Golden Tebow orchestrate a three-digit barrage, or will they content themselves by scoring 70? You can bet on at least one thing: If he doesn't need them, Meyer will keep all his second-half timeouts for the last minute. (Verne: "Tennessee, down to their own 30 on the pass, about a minute left, 83-7 Florida ... and now Urban Meyer is going to challenge the completion.") We probably should point out here that the rules do technically still allow Tennessee to win.

9.26 :: at Kentucky
The largest margin of victory for the Gators came in the 63-5 waxing of the Wildcats, who -- this being Kentucky -- haven't defeated Florida in a long, long time. (The Gators have won the last 22.) This does have the trap game set-up going for it -- after the emotional game against Tennessee, before the high-stakes game against LSU. But even an off Florida has to be given the edge over an on Kentucky.

10.10 :: at LSU
On paper, this is the toughest regular-season game for the Gators. I'm one of those who thinks these sorts of things don't matter, but you could point out that beginning in 2005, the outcome of this game has gone LSU, Florida, LSU, Florida. Notice whose "turn" it is.

10.17 :: vs. Arkansas
Coming off the heartbreaking loss to Ole Miss last year, Florida shellacked Arkansas 38-7 with a 514-yard barrage, including a season-high 25 first downs. Arkansas has never won a conference game against the Gators. Only once (2003) has Florida won by fewer than 10 points.

10.24 :: at Mississippi State
The Gators haven't won in Starkville since 1985, though that's only a four-game losing streak because of some scheduling oddities. (Why these teams played in Tampa in 1989 I'll probably never know.) The last time Florida visited Mississippi State, Ron Zook was head coach. Well, he was until the Western Division Bulldogs won, 38-31. This year also has the fun twist of being Urban Meyer's first showdown with protege Dan Mullen.

10.31 :: vs. Georgia (Jacksonville)
Yes, I know; Georgia is 5-1 against defending national champions. No, it won't matter. I would wager that many teams of Georgia's caliber have good records against defending national champions. After all, defending national champions are often older teams that experience huge turnover in the offseason. Which is assuredly not the case with this Florida team. If anything, Georgia has lost more important pieces from its 2008 team than has Florida. The Gators might not win this one by 39, but they will in all likelihood win it.

11.7 :: vs. Vanderbilt
In his first couple of years at the helm of the Gators, the Dores caused Meyer their fair share of heart attacks, taking Florida to double overtime in 2005, losing by six points in 2006 -- and then it fell apart. Florida has annihilated Vanderbilt the last two times they've played, including last year's 42-14 blowout in Nashville.

11.14 :: at South Carolina
Despite his bit about cheering for Florida to win the SEC when South Carolina doesn't, the Head Ball Coach would like nothing better than to derail Urban Meyer's attempt to further eclipse Steve Spurrier's accomplishments in Gainesville. The problem is that it once again looks like Spurrier lacks the firepower to keep up with the Gators. Last year's 56-6 demolition of the Gamecocks, which eviscerated Carolina's solid-looking defensive credentials, showed just how wide the gap is between Spurrier's former team and his current one. 

11.21 :: vs. Florida International
Wouldn't it be amusing on some level if one of the worst teams in the FBS derailed the Gators? To give you an idea of just how bad the Panthers are, they've gone 21-59 since starting in 2002, including an 11-36 since joining the Sun Belt Conference in 2005. Their number of wins each year of existence: 5, 2, 3, 5, 0, 1, 5. FIU might be getting better, as Phil Steele contends, but they're not good enough to defeat the Gators.

11.28 :: vs. Florida State
Urban Meyer has never lost to the Seminoles, and this year doesn't look like the best time for Florida State to try to end the streak. Head coach Jimbo Fisher Bobby Bowden appears to have FSU headed in the right direction again. Good for him.

--

MONDAY: Florida's Song Remains the Same, Florida's Heisman winners

TODAY: The Schedule, Don't Miss Tebow's Last Year

WEDNESDAY: The Depth Chart

THURSDAY: Predictions

FRIDAY: Conclusions

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