Florida's Schedule is Not Forgiving // SEC 2011

John Brantley and the Gators have a very tough schedule coming up in 2011.

This is an overview. Predictions come later. Home games in CAPS.

SEPTEMBER

9/3: FLORIDA ATLANTIC

9/10: UAB

9/17: TENNESSEE

9/24: at Kentucky

The Gators' schedule begins as it seemingly always does: two cupcakes followed by Tennessee. Ideally, the opener against the Fightin' Schnellenbergers will go better than last year's opener against Miami University, when Florida had just 26 total yards after three quarters (yes, really). Next is UAB, a team that wasn't very good last year but still managed to push Tennessee to overtime. The conference opener against UT is a pivotal game, as someone's longshot hopes at a division title will vanish with a loss. Next is Kentucky, a team Florida has outscored 73-0 in the combined first quarters of the last three games in the series. It likely won't be a blowout, but UK was one of the few schools that made Steve Addazio look good last year.

OCTOBER

10/1: ALABAMA

10/8: at LSU

10/15: at Auburn

10/22: BYE

10/29: Georgia (Jacksonville)

Alabama coming to town presents both Will Muschamp's first elite opponent as a head coach and first game against his mentor, Nick Saban. Bama won the last two games between the teams by a combined 63-19, so Florida fans will be hoping for a much closer score this time around. They probably won't get one though, as UF is rebuilding and Bama is a national title contender. The reward for playing that one is to go on the road to the conference's other national title favorite, LSU. CBS has already claimed that one as its sole prime time game, so it will be at night to boot. The SEC West stretch finishes with the defending national champs, though at a place Muschamp is well accustomed to. A much needed bye week provides a rest before the annual Cocktail Party against East division co-favorite, Georgia.

NOVEMBER

11/5: VANDERBILT

11/12: at South Carolina

11/19: FURMAN

11/26: FLORIDA STATE

After playing four of the last five games away from home, Florida gets to finish the season with three of four in the Swamp. Vandy provides a breather before the showdown at South Carolina. Last year's Gators, despite their issues, actually went into this contest with the division title on the line. It'll be quite a feat if they can replicate those circumstances this fall. Furman gives the walk ons a chance to see the field before the season ending rivalry tilt with Florida State. FSU was the better team last year, but four turnovers turned the game into a laugher. It didn't sit well in Gainesville, where they'll be wanting revenge. It's also Muschamp's first game against his good buddy Jimbo Fisher, with whom he famously co-owns a beach house.

OVERALL

The schedule contains three pastries to hit the Jeremy Foley-mandated seven home game quota. Beyond that, it's pretty brutal. Florida plays both SEC West favorites, and playing at Auburn should be tough even if the team is down from last year. Getting Tennessee at home helps, but going on the road to South Carolina and FSU's renaissance hurt. The Gators face five teams that probably should beat them (Bama, LSU, UGA, South Carolina, FSU), and two others that are likely in the range of tossups (Tennessee, Auburn). It's entirely possible that if Florida loses that third week game to the Vols, it will be fighting for bowl eligibility the rest of the way. Welcome to Gainesville, Will Muschamp.

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