Florida will look to contend for an SEC and possible national championship this season, but they first must get past Toledo to start the year.
The Gators finished 11-2 last season and reached the Sugar Bowl before losing to Louisville 33-23. However, the squad returns with plenty of talent this year and should be one of the top teams in the country throughout the year.
Meanwhile, Toledo is not going to be a normal rollover opponent that the top teams usually have in the first week. The MAC squad won nine games a year ago and could find itself in the Top 25 poll at some point this year.
On top of that, it was reported Friday evening (via ESPN.com), that the Gators would be without six key players including star cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy.
This is certain to be a tough early test for both teams to start the college football season.
When: Aug. 31 at 12:21 p.m. ET
Where: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, Fla.
Watch: SEC Network
Live Stream: ESPN3
Injury Report (via USA Today)
Florida (suspension info via ESPN.com)
DB Jaylen Watkins - Probable - Ankle
How many games will Florida win this season?
QB Jeff Driskel - Probable - Appendix
DL Jordan Sherit - Questionable - Knee
OL Chaz Green - Out for Season - Shoulder
DL Damien Jacobs - Probable - Leg
RB Hunter Joyer - Probable - Hamstring
OL Jon Halapio - Out - Chest
RB Matt Jones - Out- Virus
WR Andre Debose - Out for Season - Knee
LB Antonio Morrison - Out - Suspension
DT Darious Cummings - Out - Suspension
DT Jay-Nard Bostwick - Out - Suspension
CB Loucheiz Purifoy - Out - Suspension
WR Latroy Pittman - Out - Suspension
OL Quinteze Williams - Out - Suspension
DB Vernon Hargreaves III - Probable - Shoulder
No injuries to report.
What They're Saying
This is a big man’s league. When you go pay to watch a boxing match, you don’t go watch the featherweights fight. You go watch heavyweights fight. This is a heavyweight league.
So we need have a big, physical team. You can still be really fast, but you better be big and physical if you want to win in this league right now.
Size is certainly something the Gators have plenty of across the roster. Now it is up to them to prove that this will help win a conference championship.
Toledo Player to Watch: David Fluellen, RB
Few running backs across the country will put up better numbers than David Fluellen this season. The senior carried the load on offense last year, totaling 1,498 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns.
Fluellen had at least 200 yards in three different games last season.
The experienced player has the size to break tackles on the inside and the speed to break off long runs in the open field. He also contributes in the passing game, forcing opponents to watch him at all times.
In order to keep Toledo off the scoreboard, Florida must focus on stopping Fluellen.
Florida Player to Watch: Jeff Driskel, QB
There are a number of excellent players on Florida who rank among the best in the country at their position. Dominique Easley and Loucheiz Purifoy could end up being All-Americans while anchoring the defense.
However, the Gators' success this season will be completely based on Jeff Driskel. The quarterback had an up-and-down sophomore year where he often struggled to locate his targets down the field.
Still, Driskel has a strong arm and enough quickness to make him an elite dual-threat quarterback if he is able to put it all together.
If he can play well, Florida has a much better chance of winning games this season.
Prediction: Florida 24, Toledo 10
The strength of Florida's team is on defense, which will cause Toledo fits throughout the game. The Rockets will struggle to pass and run, and it will be impressive for them to get across the end zone once in the contest.
Still, this will not lead to a blowout in favor of the No. 10 team in the country. The Gators are still not perfect on offense and should expect to be a bit rusty in the first game of the season.
Florida is talented enough to have a safe win, but expect some struggles in the early going in this one.
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