That’s how I began last year’s blog about the Gator Football season. They went 10-2 in the regular season and lost the SEC championship game and the bowl game. My reasoning was solid and they did have a better year than I expected. Now let’s turn the focus on this year’s season and try it again.
UMass comes into the swamp for the first game and while it may not be a repeat of last year’s opener, the results will be the same. The Gators will win easily and Luke Del Rio will be hailed as a potential Heisman winner by some Orange and Blue maniacs. The only thing that could derail the victory would be another late night thunderstorm!
The schedule changes this year and Kentucky comes a calling earlier than usual. Stoops has things headed in the right direction in Lexington, but this game ain’t in the bluegrass state. It won’t be as close as last year and the Gators move onto week three undefeated again. Just like the Vols schedule is easier in the month of November, the Gator’s is always easiest in September.
Week three features the match with the Mean Green from North Texas. It won’t be close and the Gators will be getting some good national attention about now. A night game in the Swamp in late September is as good as it gets. That is unless you are on the visiting sidelines. Gator fans should get to see the backup QB in this one.
The real key game again is with the Vols. This time it’s up in Knoxville. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Creamsicle clad bunch celebrating the end of the streak. I mean it can’t last forever can it? But until they actually win one, I’m still calling this one a victory for the guys from Gainesville. It will also mark the beginning of the end for Butch Jones if they don’t beat the Gators, so it’s a double win for the orange and blue! But remember, I am hedging my bets here because the Vols will be better, just hope the Gators are better too!
So at worst the Gators head to Tennessee in back to back weeks, thanks SEC schedule makers, for a road game with Vandy. It’s possible that the Gators will be either looking back at what should have been or looking ahead to LSU and make a real mess of this game. They shouldn’t but it seems that the Gators struggle in the Music City. This could be an upset that would all but end the dreams of another trip to Atlanta, but I think Coach Mac will have them ready to play regardless of what happened on Rocky Top. Gators win but we all breathe freely only after the game ends.
So a 4-1 or maybe 5-0 Gator team comes home to face the Mad Hatter and the LSU Tigers. This game should feature two top 15 at worst and maybe top 10 teams at that point and be the featured game of the day. If LSU can keep the RB healthy and playing hard, the Gator defense will have their hands full all day. The real question is can the Gator offense come around fast enough to take the pressure off the defense. The crowd can be a factor but only if the Gators can keep it close enough to force Miles to try another trick play. This time it won’t work and the Gators win another close game in the Swamp. That will be one big party on University Avenue if they win this one!
Another group of Tigers roll into town the next week but the claws aren’t as sharp in this bunch this year. Missouri will present a tough test but I don’t think they will spoil the homecoming festivities this year. The Gators head into the bye week with a 7-0 or 6-1 record.
I think that this year the celebrating in Jacksonville will be done by the dogs. This will be a hard fought defense led football game. The kind that Keith Jackson would call an old fashioned slobber knocker. I think that the run game of Georgia will be just a little better than the Gators if they stay healthy and I don’t think Coach Smart will play the waterboy again at QB. It could be changed by a turnover for the Gators and the fact that Georgia tends to play tight when they cross the St. John’s River.
Having to travel to Pig country after an emotional game will be tough for the Gators and could cause them to lose back to back games and demolish any chance of being in Atlanta. I think the biggest factor in this game will be the weather on the first week of November in Arkansas. If it’s a cold and windy day, the Hogs would have the advantage. If it’s a crisp but sunny day, I think the Gators will be able to throw on the Piglets. So without being able to call the weatherman this far in advance, I’ll go with the Gators to win it in their first trip to Giant Walmart Stadium in a long time.
Coach Muschump will return to the swamp the next week. He’ll be all hyped and bloody from smashing his face into a locker or something, but it won’t really matter. He’s not going to have enough offensive talent to do much against a great defense. Heck, if he had offensive talent, he’d move them to the defensive side. So as long as the Gators can field punts, they should be able to win this one. So the winner of the TN-UF game should be the winner of the East unless GA beats TN and that could happen, in which case we have a real mess.
Let’s face it, the seniors on the even years get the best of the Senior Day games. They can almost always count on a win, oh unless Chump comes back to coach the offense against Ga. Southern. But since the Gators are playing a Denominational school, they should win this one easily. All of the Seniors should see some playing time in their final home game, even the ones where this would be the first time they have seen real game action.
So a 9-2 Gator team heads out west to face the clowns. Unfortunately I think the clowns will have the last laugh again this year. The one possible problem could be if the Heisman hopeful at RB goes down for the Noles. In that case, I think it would be a coin toss. No great kicker, no great runner, and no great QB could mean a closer game than most would expect. That’s a lot of ifs for the Gators, so I don’t think those of us who love the Gators will want to talk to our Nole Friends over Christmas Break.
So there you go, that’s my picks for the year. A 9-3 season that may be good enough to get the Gators back to Atlanta or it may only be good enough for third in the east. Let’s hope we can keep our starters away from GNC this year and perhaps we will have an even better ending to the season than the beginning. I’m sure some of you will disagree with what I wrote and that’s okay. Just put your comments down for the reckoning that happens in January. By then we’ll all know which teams stayed healthy, which ones overachieved, and which ones were bitter disappointments again to their fans! Between now and then, we all get to have a great fall watching college football and talking smack! Let’s keep it classy and friendly because we all know it’s just a game, a very important one, but still just a game!