Florida Football: 5 Games That Could Ruin Gators' 2014 Season
It only takes one or two losses for a team’s college football season to be completely destroyed. While the Florida Gators should have a little more leeway than that, they saw last year just how quickly things can spiral out of control.
Whether it’s a trap game or a meeting capable of getting absolutely ugly, there are plenty of matchups on Florida’s schedule that could be the deciding factor between success and failure. It’s a battle each week for every team in the SEC.
Here are some of the key games that could make or break Florida’s season.
Florida has not lost to Tennessee since 2004, and the Gators could make it 10 straight wins over the Vols with a win this season.
With that in mind, if there's one game that could ruin the season, this would be it.
Tennessee is moving in the right direction under head coach Butch Jones and showed some fight late last year. The Volunteers took Georgia to overtime, beat South Carolina and were competitive against Florida for much of the game.
This year, the Volunteers return 10 starters and will have the help of an always packed Neyland Stadium.
This game will be on the back end of back-to-back road games for Florida. A loss would simply destroy any chance of a successful season.
With this game sandwiched between Alabama and LSU, the Gators can’t get caught looking ahead.
After the Tennessee game, Florida and LSU meet at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium for what should be another classic showdown between these two SEC titans.
The good news is that Florida has won 10 of its last 13 home games against the Tigers. The bad news is that Florida has lost three of its last four meetings overall and will likely be the underdog entering this year’s contest.
The Gators have a big game against Alabama earlier in the year that will likely not go Florida’s way. In order to fulfill the expectations of the fans, the team can’t possibly suffer two quick losses heading into the meat of the schedule.
A loss to the Tigers would be bad news and could possibly cripple any hopes of competing for an SEC East title.
The annual rivalry between Georgia and Florida could be the deciding factor in who makes it out of the SEC East. If history is any indication of how this year’s game will go, Georgia will win a sloppy matchup that leaves Florida fans with the feeling they were just punched in the gut.
Florida has lost three straight meetings to the Bulldogs, and all of those matchups were there for the taking. Dumb penalties and turnovers have killed the Gators in this rivalry as of late. The loss in 2012 was the difference between Florida playing in the national championship and BCS Sugar Bowl.
If the Gators are going to compete in the SEC and make an honest effort to reach the conference championship, winning this game is a must.
At Florida State
Florida has lost three of its last four meetings to its hated rival, and this season may not be any different.
The Seminoles are college football’s defending champs and are once again loaded on both sides of the ball.
Last season, Florida lost by 30 points to Florida State. Even if things aren’t going well, you at least hope rivalry week will be competitive, and Florida is capable of putting up a fight.
This rivalry hasn’t been close in quite some time, though. Six of the last seven meetings have been decided by 14 or more points.
No matter what happens with the Gators this season, they have to at least make things competitive with Florida State. Another lopsided loss to the instate rival could dampen any previous success the season might hold.
The first true test for the Gators this season is a road game against the Alabama Crimson Tide. Alabama has won three of the last five national championships and enters this season as one of the favorites to win it all.
Not even the biggest Florida fan in the world can truly expect the Gators to win this game. However, you hope for Florida to keep things competitive.
If things get ugly in this matchup, it could trickle down throughout the rest of the schedule. Doubt could easily set in after a blowout loss, especially with a bye week following this contest.
The game against Alabama will be a measuring stick for Florida, and it could set the tone for the rest of the season.