Four-Year Trend: 2008 (13-1), 2009 (13-1), 2010 (8-5), 2011 (7-6)
Notable Player: Starting Quarterback. Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel remain locked in a quarterback battle. Neither has distinguished himself. Brent Pease’s frustration is palpable. Whether Florida is Florida, or on the express train to Zook-town depends on getting at least decent play from this position.
Top Newcomers: Damien Jacobs (DT), Jonathan Bullard (DE), Dante Fowler Jr. (DE), D.J. Humphries (OL)
Circle This Game: Florida vs. Georgia (Oct. 27) This is one of college football’s best rivalries…and cocktail parties. It will be crucial for both teams’ chances in the SEC East. Will Muschamp can’t enter 2013 as the coach who can’t beat Georgia.
Front-Loaded Schedule: Florida normally coasts into the season with four overmatched opponents at home. This year, they will be tested immediately. They have back to back SEC September road trips to Texas A&M and Tennessee. They also have a brutal October: LSU, at Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Georgia. The Gators’ season could be over before it starts.
Why We Like Them: Florida returns ten starters from a Top 10 overall defense. They have added some quality depth on the defensive line and will have a second year in Will Muschamp’s system. Florida’s young offensive line in 2011 becomes Florida’s experienced offensive line returning four starters in 2012. Should they have to eek out a close game, Caleb Sturgis is one of the nation’s best kickers.
Best-Case Scenario: The Gator defense is dominant. The starting quarterback is functional, allowing Paese’s offense to progress to the point where it is not a liability. Florida takes three out of four against LSU, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida State to finish 11-1 and win the SEC East.
Worst-Case Scenario: A replay of 2011 against a tougher schedule. Their defense is very good, but not great against top-caliber teams. Their offense – undermined by injuries and playing in a third system in three years – is another dumpster fire. Florida struggles through the SEC and limps to a 5-7 regular season finsih.
Projected Bowl: Outback Bowl
[Photo via Getty]