Florida Football: 5 Games the Gators Must Win in 2012
While teams are just beginning spring practices, we're already looking forward to the regular season. Sure, it is still a good six months away, but it's never too early to think about everything that comes with college football and the games that actually matter.
Florida was expecting a below-average season by their standards last year, due to the coaching changes and questions the team was facing. However, a 7-6 season was not what anybody could have expected. This year should be much better for Will Muschamp and company as they return a total of 18 starters and have an okay schedule in their favor.
But if the Gators would like to compete for the SEC title, there are a few games they will have to win.
Here are five games to keep your eye on this season.
At Texas A&M
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Texas A&M will kick off their SEC schedule against the Gators in College Station. The Aggies are a very talented team that is returning the majority of last year's starters, but Florida can't lose this game. For one, you're playing the newbies of the conference and a team that has a completely new coaching staff.
If Florida wants to compete in the SEC East this season, they must prove that they have the talent to do so. An early win in a hostile environment will be the first step in convincing the naysayers.
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Florida has lost their last two games against LSU, but almost always plays them very closely. Last season's 41-11 loss shouldn't sit well with this team. The Tigers obviously remain a very talented team on both sides of the ball, but they do have issues to address before they can be considered on the same level as last year.
The Gators will have time to prepare for this game and they're at home, so they must find a way to get the job done and end that two-year slide against Les Miles.
Vs. South Carolina
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The Gamecocks have been the Gators mini rival for the last few years simply because Steve Spurrier is the head coach.
Spurrier did a lot of great things at Florida and every Gator fan is thankful, but now that he's coaching another team in the SEC East, he is the enemy. The problem is that Florida has lost the last two games against the former Gator head coach.
That streak could possibly extend to three, considering the talent that is on South Carolina's roster, but Florida must find a way to squeeze out a victory for the home team.
Vs. Georgia (In Jacksonville)
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The world's largest outdoor cocktail party is always circled on both teams calendar (And of course the fans' as well).
This matchup could be absolutely huge considering both of these teams have goals of reaching the SEC Championship and they play in the same division. The Bulldogs return nine starters on the defensive side of the ball and six key players on offense.
I'm not so sure that Florida is as complete of a team as Georgia is right now, but if Florida hopes to reach the SEC Championship then they must be on the winning side of this game.
At Florida State
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Obviously, the last game of the season against the much-hated Florida State Seminoles is considered a must win.
Just a few years ago, Florida had a six-game winning streak hanging over Florida State, but now they're the ones that have won the last two games by double-digits. Jimbo Fishers' squad returns nine starters on both sides of the ball and has the home-field advantage in this one.
All three major Florida teams struggled mightily last year, so the winner of this game will make a huge statement and earn bragging rights until they meet again next season.