Florida Football: The Ins and Outs, Highs and Lows of the 2012 Schedule

Randy ChambersAnalyst IApril 27, 2012

Florida Football: The Ins and Outs, Highs and Lows of the 2012 Schedule

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    The spring is finally over for the Florida Gators, so we can now turn our focus onto the good stuff, being the regular season. Last year wasn't as successful as most Gator fans would have liked, but they did reach and win a bowl game, so it wasn't a total failure.

    This season, the expectations will likely be a bit higher in head coach Will Muschamp's second season. Florida returns 18 starters from a year ago, including 10 on the defensive side of the ball. They also have a favorable schedule that should help them out as well.

    But before we declare that the Gators will compete in the SEC this season, we must break down the schedule and see exactly how things could play out.

    Here's your 2012 Florida Gators' complete schedule breakdown.

Easiest Game

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    The Gators have quite a few easy games this season, so it's only right to group them together. The game against Bowling Green State shouldn't be a problem.

    The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns should provide little fight, and the Jacksonville State Gamecocks will throw in the white flag by the middle of the second quarter.

    Seriously, out of that group, how could you pick just one?

Toughest Game

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    You could put a couple of teams under this slide as well, but Georgia fits the bill.

    The Bulldogs, after all, were just a couple plays away from winning the SEC last season. This year, they return 15 starters which include the main guys on offense and nine players from a very strong defense—not to mention quarterback Aaron Murray may be the best quarterback in the conference overall.

    This is a loaded team on both sides of the ball and looked like a championship contender at times last season. I expect they'll be even better this time around with a year of experience under their belts.

Potential Blowout

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    It's not too often you see a streak like this, but I have never seen the Florida Gators lose to the Kentucky Wildcats in my lifetime.

    Seriously, Florida has a 25-game winning streak over this team, and they've won the last 31 of 32 meetings. The last four of those victories have come by 30 or more points.

    If there's one thing you can count on every season, it's the Wildcats losing to the Gators in ugly fashion. 

Potential for Disaster

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    Did you watch the game last season?

    Florida couldn't get a ground game going, couldn't pass the ball and the defense gave up 453 total yards, as the Gators lost by 30 points.

    LSU returns majority of last year's team, and this time might actually have a passing game in quarterback Zach Mettenberger.

    Sure, the game is in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, a place where Florida has won nine of the last 12 meetings, but until Florida shows great improvement, this matchup doesn't look so good.

Most Intriguing Matchup

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    I'm excited about the new additions to the SEC in Texas A&M and Missouri, mainly the Tigers because they have a lot of potential, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.

    They have a great dual-threat quarterback in James Franklin, a solid backfield, and of course 5-star recruit Dorial Green-Beckham at receiver, along with TJ Moe. Defense isn't that bad either, as they return six starters on that side as well.

    They remind me a lot of the Gators—a team that of course has talent but is still trying to find themselves before making a serious run.

    This game should answer a lot of questions and will help us find out which team is a serious contender moving forward.

Trap Game

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    Trap games are usually games that teams would normally overlook in a certain situation, and that game ends up costly them dearly.

    The Vanderbilt Commodores are in the perfect situation to upset the Florida Gators as they're right between the games against LSU and South Carolina—not to mention the game will be played in Vanderbilt Stadium.

    The Gators have knocked off Vanderbilt 21 straight times, but this is a program that's slowly improving under head coach James Franklin. They were very solid defensively last season and only lost to Georgia and Florida by five points each.

    Don't sleep on this Vanderbilt team that's returning eight starters on offense. 

Rivalry Game Prediction

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    The last five meetings between these two teams have been blowouts—three in Florida's favor and the last two going to the Seminoles. I think this game should be closer, but I think Florida State will extend the winning streak to three games.

    For one, the game will be played in Doak Campbell Stadium, where the Seminoles are 8-3-1 in the last 12 meetings in their stadium. Also, Florida State seems to be more complete as a team right now than Florida. Sure, they both return a majority of last year's squad, but the Gators showed no true signs of life last season and often looked lost.

    The Gators are still searching for a quarterback, the Seminoles defense is one of the best in the country and Florida State is at home. Until things change, give me the Seminoles.

    Florida State wins: 28-17

Upset Special

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    Tennessee has been a team that’s struggled for the last few seasons and has lost the last seven games to Florida. But that doesn't mean they are a team to overlook on the schedule this season.

    For starters, they return 19 starters from a year ago. They're also getting wide receiver Justin Hunter and linebacker Herman Lathers back from injury.

    This Volunteers team is talented, and with a year under the youngster’s belts, they should experience one of their more successful seasons in years.

    The game is also played in Knoxville, if you needed any more convincing, the Gators could lose this matchup.

Heisman Highlight Game

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    I'm not sure the Gators truly have a Heisman candidate this season. They have no definitive answer at quarterback, their speedy running backs are gone and no wide receiver has truly emerged as a leader of the offense.

    Maybe Trey Burton if he receives more playing time in the offense?

    Regardless, if a Heisman candidate does miraculously emerge from the pack, it would be wise for it to take place against the LSU Tigers.

    Great defensive team, national stage and a chance to knock off a national championship contender. I just don't see a Heisman candidate on this roster as of right now. 

Must-Win Game

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    After hosting a cupcake in Bowling Green State, the Gators take to the road to play the Texas A&M Aggies in their first SEC Conference game. Earning a victory at Kyle Field is one of the most difficult things to do.

    This is also a squad that's physical on both sides of the ball and return the majority of last year's squad. Many are optimistic about this Florida Gators' squad this season and for good reason.

    An early victory against the Aggies could set the tone the rest of the way and prove those naysayers wrong. A loss would likely do the exact opposite and prove this team is still a year or two away from competing on a national level.