Florida Gators: Breaking Down the 2009 Schedule
Now that the basketball team has made another early exit from the NIT tournament, all I want to talk about is Gator football. Sure, our No. 1 Softball team is ready to dominate again, but it's just not the same.
So, although there won't be much detail to start with, I'll continue to update when I happen to think of something new or when more information is available.
Sept. 5, 2009: Week One
While this isn't going to bring the same excitement that Hawaii did in 2008, or even Southern Mississippi in 2006, it's the first game of the year. Gators' fans will be there for this all but certain noon kickoff to take on FCS opponent, the Charleston Southern Buccaneers.
Hailing from the Big South Conference, the Bucs went 7-5 last year, losing their opening game at Miami, 52-7. While a win here will prove nothing, fans will be hoping for a shutout against a team that has won 28 games in the past 4 years, playing one or two BCS teams each year.
W (1-0, 0-0)
Sept. 12th, 2009: Week Two
I have to say it. DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE TROY. They may have far less talent than many schools they play, but they play harder than anyone could ever ask for.
During a successful 8-5 season, Troy lost at eventual No. 9 Ohio State (28-10), at eventual No. 16 Oklahoma State (55-24), and nearly knocked off defending national champion LSU on the road by going up 31-3 in the third quarter!
Say what you want, but I was at the game in 2007 when they held the Gators scoreless in the third quarter and put up 383 total yards. Week two will be much more exciting against a scrappy and overall better opponent.
Sept. 19, 2009: Week Three
This has got to be the most anticipated SEC opener in a long time. Sure Georgia travels to a Petrino coached Arkansas, and Auburn gets a chance for revenge on West Virginia. But seriously, probably everyone in the country—outside Rocky Top—is hoping to see Lane Kiffin's new squad get hammered by a veteran Gator team.
I'm positive that the entire SEC fan base, plus Alabama, Auburn, and Ole Miss will be watching this game—unless they're at their own. Everyone wants to see if Kiffin can put his money where his mouth is. Especially if they handle UCLA the week before in Knoxville, the buildup will be even more insane.
I'm actually praying for a shutout and that the new jumbotrons show some Tennessee players crying on the big screen. Look for the Gators to be angrier than ever and teach the Vols a lesson: You don't mess with a gator in the swamp!
Simply stated, the Gators will be a much better team, regardless of this recent recruiting class and will not be caught off guard.
W (3-0, 1-0 SEC)
Sept. 26, 2009: Week Four
I won't lie. This game makes me nervous. After a likely emotional blowout against Tennessee the week before, I'm hoping that this team can keep it together when they arrive in Lexington.
God knows the Wildcat fans will be out in full force for their SEC opener after a likely win against in state rival Louisville.
Looking back at another bowl win for the 7-6 team in 2008, the only time they lost by more than a touchdown was at Florida during their dominating conference run and in the season finale at Tennessee, Fulmer's last game as a coach.
Anyone who thinks Kentucky isn't a legitimate football opponent hasn't been watching the Wildcats recently. In 2007, they beat No. 1 LSU at home and Florida State in their bowl game. And in 2006 they knocked off Georgia and beat Clemson in their bowl game. They've now won 23 games in the past three seasons and show no signs of slowing down. An excellent defense paired with an eager to prove themselves offense makes for one scrappy team in 2009.
Look for the Gators to stay focused against an improved Kentucky squad and win big.
W (4-0, 2-0 SEC)
Oct. 3, 2009: Week Five
Normally, I would just ignore this bye week. But this year it comes at what I believe to be a critical time. No one can deny that there are plenty more tough opponents to face down the road, but as someone who has experienced Tiger Stadium at night, I can promise that if Urban Meyer had his choice, THIS is the date he would select for a bye.
By this point, video will be ready from LSU games against Washington, Vanderbilt, and Georgia (in the second week). LSU will have played five games, and we will be able to see where the Tigers stand, which could very well be at 5-0...4-1 at worst.
@ LOUISIANA STATE
Oct. 10, 2009: Week Six
It is my opinion that this game will show us just what kind of team we are fielding. This game won't be for the faint of heart, and should have huge SEC and national title implications. And it will like pit 4-0 Florida against 4-1 or 5-0 LSU at Tiger Stadium at night.
The last time Florida has won at Death Valley was in 2003, when sporadic coach Ron Zook was at the helm. Even then, that team probably overlooked the Gators when they came in with a 3-3 record consisting of wins over Florida A&M, San Jose State, and a three point victory against Kentucky. That will not be the case this time.
The Tigers will be hungry to prove that last year was simply a fluke and that they belong back on top of the college football world. But that heartbreaking loss in 2007 will keep the Gators motivated to work towards their goal of an undefeated season. I just can't see the LSU quarterback play being enough to get past arguably the best defense in the nation.
It will probably be a nail-biter, and I will probably catch so much crap for celebrating in Baton Rouge, but Florida has everything in place to pull this one out.
W (5-0, 3-0 SEC)
Oct. 17, 2009: Week Seven
All I can say is thank goodness we get this team at home. I think Bobby Petrino is sort of shady, but the man can clearly coach a football team. Good grief, look what he did at Louisville as only an offensive coordinator. In his first year, the Cardinals were the No. 1 scoring and No. 1 total offense in D-1.
I expect Arkansas to make vast improvements and be far more competitive throughout the season. We're only three years removed from the Razorbacks playing Florida close in the SEC Championship game. This game should not, and will not be taken lightly. But look for the Gators to be feeling good at home in another dominating performance.
W (6-0, 4-0 SEC)
@ MISSISSIPPI STATE
Oct. 24, 2009: Week Eight
Coming off a...tragic...season that saw State lose to Auburn 3-2, this Dan Mullen-coached team will have a whole new look.
I expect the Bulldogs to be prepared and talented, but not enough to match the Gators. Simply put, this is just a game that Florida should run away with. This should be more of a learning process for Mississippi State than anything else.
However, we all know that our teams don't always win the games they should—the Gators especially. It sure seems like Mullen is going about things the same way Meyer did when he first arrived in Gainesville. He's got a long term plan and will tweak it to match the skills of his current players.
I'm not sure if they're planning on running the no huddle offense or not, but I do know that Meyer is toying with the idea during spring practices, so the Gator defense should not be caught off guard. Look for an overwhelming victory in Starkville.
W (7-0, 5-0 SEC)
@ GEORGIA—IN JACKSONVILLE
Oct. 31, 2009: Week Nine
By the time we get to Halloween, the Gators should be on fire. The Bulldogs will be either just as pumped with a successful season, or limping in with potential losses to Oklahoma State, LSU, South Carolina, and, dare I say, Tennessee? Whatever the case, UGA gets the coveted bye week while Florida is playing at Mississippi State.
Any UGA fan will remind you that they got their bye week before the cocktail party in 2007 and 2004. Their most recent defeats of the Gators.
However, this team will probably be almost beaten to death by a brutal schedule of seven very talented BCS opponents in a row. It's likely that Georgia will be plagued by injury at this point of the year and will be unable to prepare as adequately as they would like. It's also just as likely that 2009 is finally their lucky year, and they'll be strutting in at 7-0 with dominating performances to boot.
This game is ALWAYS memorable, no matter what. Even with all the fans heavily intoxicated, we're still paying complete attention to what's happening on the field. I expect there to be just as big a buildup as there was last year. Georgia stomped in the endzone in '07, and Meyer called two timeouts in the last 44 seconds in 2008. That's over and done with. These teams are out for blood. Don't expect any more drama from either side. Just some good, old fashioned physical SEC football.
I expect it will be a game played with tons of emotion and will be closer than last year. But I also expect—don't we all—Florida to be seriously motivated to play, and to walk out with a hard fought win.
W (8-0, 6-0 SEC)
Nov. 7, 2009: Week 10
After coming off the most successful season in the last 50 years, the Commodores return a whopping 18 starters from their 7-6 campaign.
While many people question the quarterback situation at yet another SEC school, I watched Mackenzie Adams play brilliantly on several occasions. I expect him to greatly improve on his decision making and steal the starting job from Larry Smith, who is much more akin to the graduated Chris Nickson.
Again we have a seemingly in-the-bag game at home in the Swamp. Who remembers Vandy at Florida in 2005? Up 35-21 with four minutes left in the fourth quarter, Florida gave up two Commodore touchdowns, one more in overtime, and finally stopped Vanderbilt in the second overtime to win 49-42. Insanity. The stadium was practically empty. In fact, people started running back in when they could hear the announcer screaming from all around campus.
This Florida team is just too good to lose to Vanderbilt at home, and will prove it with a big win.
W (9-0, 7-0 SEC)
@ SOUTH CAROLINA
Nov. 14, 2009: Week 11
Here's hoping to another repeat of the 2007 game, where Florida destroyed Carolina 51-21 in Columbia.
If Steven Garcia finally has a breakout year, as I suspect he will, then this Gamecock team will be the real deal. Their defense has been spectacular recently and are never a team to overlook.
Watch for Tim Tebow and the rest of the seniors to enjoy their last SEC game as Gators and to play accordingly. Carolina may have what it takes to compete in the SEC East in 2009, but few teams in the nation will be able to compete with Florida.
W (10-0, 8-0 SEC)
Nov. 21, 2009: Week 12
They're awful. They are not only a terrible football team but terrible fans and players. Remember that brawl between FIU and Miami a couple years ago? Honestly, I can't wait to clobber these thugs.
The Gators teach these jerks a lesson.
W (11-0,8-0 SEC)
Nov. 28, 2009: Week 13
The Seminoles return to Gainesville for their latest beatdown. I can't help but notice that this year will be an improved team, although they may have some question marks on offense.
There will be plenty of speedy wide receivers that have practice running from the law. OK, I'm done with the joking.
In all honesty, I wouldn't be surprised to see this game be much more competitive that it has been the last two years. Look for the Noles to do very well in the ACC and finally be confident that they're on the right track back to national prominence. They're probably be ranked in the top 15, but don't expect this—hopefully—night game to look like that. It's senior day in the Swamp with one of the most celebrated classes in the 1996 squad.
One of the Seminole players will probably say something stupid and offensive and enrage the Florida team. They'll remember this beatdown for a long time as Tebow plays his last game in the Swamp, and the team gets ready for a trip to Atlanta.
W (12-0, 8-0 SEC)
@ OLE MISS—IN ATLANTA
Dec. 5, 2009: Week 14
That's right. I'm predicting a Mississippi vs. Florida matchup for the SEC Championship in '09. I'm calling the Rebels' number because of gutsy Houston Nutt and the very talented Jevan Snead. There's also the fact that Ole Miss gets Alabama and LSU at home this year.
They should have a magical run to build on last year, and snatch the West title. Let's not forget the revenge factor either. The Gators were just one point from a 14-0 season in 2008, thanks to this team. After an undefeated regular season, and two games from perfection, Florida is so pumped up to do the unthinkable that they crush the Rebels in Atlanta for a second straight SEC title and a trip to Pasadena.
W (13-0, 9-0 SEC)
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, TEXAS, VIRGINIA TECH, OHIO STATE?
Jan. 7, 2010: BCS National Championship
I have absolutely no idea who the Gators will face for the title. But I do know that they will enter this game for the first time as the No.1 ranked team.
It honestly looks like this Florida team will be one of the greatest in college football history, much like that of the 1994-1995 Nebraska squad. I just don't expect that anyone will be able to knock off the Gators, even when they are so far from home. Nobody wants this game more.
This Florida team will go down in the record books as the fourth National Championship team in Gators' history, and the first to complete an undefeated season.
W (14-0, 9-0 SEC)
While much of this article is wishful thinking, rambling, and downright speculation, it's truly not that far fetched. I can't wait for the Fall. GO GATORS!
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