Florida Football: Predictions for the Gators' October Games
This feels familiar.
Florida made it through September undefeated but will face a gauntlet of games in October.
However, this year does not feel the same as last year. In 2011 Florida faced FAU, UAB, Tennessee and Kentucky in September. All of those games were at home except for Kentucky. The Gators were able to mask their shortcomings by facing teams who weren't as talented as the Gators. The Gators didn't trail in any of their first four games.
This year the Gators faced Bowling Green, Texas A&M, Tennessee and Kentucky. Florida struggled early but has shown improvement in each game. Unlike 2011, the Gators have been down in three of their first four games and shown they can come from behind to win.
In 2011, the Gators were exposed in October, will Florida be able to pass the October test in 2012?
October, 6: LSU, 3:30 p.m. ET CBS
October, 13: At Vanderbilt, time TBA
October, 20: South Carolina, time TBA
October, 27: Georgia (Jacksonville), 3:30 p.m. ET CBS
Last Time They Met...
Florida limped into Tiger Stadium last year and LSU was a less than welcoming host. Due to injury, Jacoby Brissett became the first quarterback in school history to take his first snap in his first collegiate start.
Florida couldn't get anything going on offense and LSU was able to total 453 yards of total offense. The game was never close and LSU wound up with a 41-11 victory.
Barring a catastrophe against Towson, LSU and Florida will both be undefeated when they square off next weekend.
LSU brings in the second-best rushing attack in the SEC. The Tigers are averaging 247.5 rushing yards a game and have a a trio of big physical runners who are all capable of starting. Florida will bring in the SEC's sixth-ranked rushing defense to counter LSU's ground attack.
Auburn showed that LSU is pretty one dimensional on offense. Zach Mettenberger has yet to prove he can win a game on his own.
This game will come down to who wins the rushing yards battle and who can control the clock.
Last Time They Met...
Florida survived a scare in 2011 and won the game 26-21. Despite taking a 17-0 lead into the locker room at halftime, the Gators had to recover an onside kick late to hold on to their lead.
Jordan Rogers threw for 297 yards and accounted for three touchdowns in the game. The Gators struggled containing mobile quarterbacks all season long and Rogers was no different.
Vanderbilt came into the season with a lot of promise and newfound expectations. Unfortunately, up to this point, they have shown that they are the same old Vandy.
The Commodores had a chance to upset South Carolina on a national stage but couldn't hold up late. Vandy is 1-3 on the year and will face Missouri before the Gators come to town.
Florida has shown that they can handle a mobile quarterback when they shut down Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M in the second week of the season. After the Florida game Manziel has shown that he is the most mobile quarterback in the SEC; he's currently sixth in the conference in total rushing yards.
This is a tough road game for the Gators as it comes sandwiched in between LSU and South Carolina, but Florida should be favored and the key will be keeping Jordan Rogers in the pocket and forcing him to throw the ball to win.
Last Time They Met...
Two Touchdowns in the second quarter was all the scoring South Carolina would need as Florida failed to get anything going on offense all game.
The Gators defense was able to hold the Gamecocks to under 300 yards but struggled to keep Connor Shaw in the pocket and couldn't get off the field in key situations. The Gamecocks were able to convert on 3-of-4 fourth-down conversions.
South Carolina's defense has been stingy this season, allowing just 9.8 points per game. That's good enough for second in the SEC, which puts them three spots ahead of Florida.
As good as they have been on defense, the Gamecocks still haven't found a rhythm on offense. Marcus Lattimore is back but hasn't looked as good as he did before having knee surgery and they have really missed Connor Shaw, who has missed time due to injury.
South Carolina is only allowing 67 yards on the ground a game, so the Gators shouldn't be counting on Gillislee to carry them to a win in this one.
Last Time They Met...
Georgia won the 2011 matchup 24-20. Georgia's defense held the Gators to just 226 total yards and were able to keep Florida out of the end zone in the second half.
Florida took a seven-point lead into the locker room, but it could have been bigger if not for a costly turnover that resulted in points for the Dawgs before half.
This was the first game back for John Brantley coming off of a high ankle sprain and it was obviously too soon for him to return. The Gators operated almost exclusively out of the shotgun due to Brantley's immobility and couldn't get a running game going because of it.
Georgia came into 2012 as a pretty heavy favorite to win the SEC East. The popular belief was that Georgia's defense would be one of the best in the country and Aaron Murray would lead the offense to be good enough to win some ball games.
But what actually happened is Murray has turned Georgia's offense into the top scoring offense in the SEC while the Dawgs defense has been a middle of the pack unit in the SEC so far.
Georgia is ranked third in both passing and rushing offense and is scoring over 47 points per game. Florida will need to find a way to slow Georgia down if they want to win the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.
October will be the month where we really find out what this Gators football team is made of.
Fortunately for the Gators, they get to play two of the four games at home and another game just 70 miles north of campus. While I tend to agree that the Gators' 4-0 start this season feels different that a year ago and it is certainly more impressive, I'm not ready to drink the Kool Aid just yet.
Florida will go 2-2 in October, which will keep them in the hunt to represent the East in the SEC Championship game.
The Gators will be able to keep the game close against LSU, but their defense hasn't faced a true running offense. LSU will be able to run the ball against the Gators and control the clock to win the game.
The following week Florida will get a win in Nashville against the Commodores. Florida showed that they can make adjustments at halftime and can contain a mobile quarterback.
Johnny Manziel is a much bigger rushing threat than Jordan Rogers and if the Gators can keep him in the pocket and force him to throw the ball to win the game, it will be a long day for the 'Dores.
Coming back home the Gators will face a very tough defense against South Carolina. This is the toughest game to predict and should be a very low-scoring affair.
Florida has lost two straight to South Carolina and the 'Ole Ball Coach should make it three against his alma mater this year.
If Connor Shaw and Marcus Lattimore are still healthy, they should be able to control the clock and keep the Gators offense off of the field. Florida will struggle to move the ball on the ground and Jeff Driskel will have a tough time throwing the ball against this defense.
Rounding out the October schedule the Gators will get back on track and take down Georgia. Georgia was able to tee off on an immobile quarterback last season but Driskel is the exact opposite of that. We will know a lot more about Driskel by the time we get to this game, but he will be better for playing this kind of competition.
The defense will need to slow down freshman standout Todd Gurley, but if they can do that and make Georgia one dimensional, they will be able to pressure Aaron Murray and should be able to slow down Georgia's high-powered offensive attack.
It's early and these predictions could change on a week-to-week basis but splitting the four games would be a good month for the Gators. Going 2-2 in October would keep the Gators in the hunt in the SEC if they can take care of business the rest of the way.