For the Florida Gators, Early Season Mismatches Often a Good Indicator

Jim FolsomContributorAugust 30, 2010

GAINESVILLE, FL - APRIL 10:  Head coach Urban Meyer of the Florida Gators shares a laugh with quarterback John Brantley #12 during the Orange & Blue game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on April 10, 2010 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Doug Benc/Getty Images

Welcome to September. It's the start of the greatest time of the year. It's college football season. But early September has its downside. The annual griping and complaining about all the mismatches for the first two weeks is upon us. Personally, I don't see what all the complaining is about. If not for the early season blowouts, how would we know that the Boise States and TCUs of the world fatten up on easy schedules?

Look, the NFL has a four-game preseason to work the kinks out, decide who can play and where, etc. You don't have some practices and then go out for your first contact and play the Colts do you? Not in a game that counts you don't. So why do we expect Alabama, without any warmups, to go out and play Ohio State right off the bat?

Plus, these early season games many times can tell you exactly what you have, even though the game is an automatic win. If you are a top-notch football factory and are playing a Sun Belt team in Week One and that team scores 28 points on you, that is a bad sign.

Case in point, 2007 Troy at Florida. Tebow and company blow out the Troy defense but Troy scores 31 points on the Gator D. If you recall, Tebow went on to win the Heisman while Florida lost four games that year.

Fast forward to 2008. Always high-powered Hawaii comes to town and Florida blows them out 56-10. The only 10 points allowed were at the end of the game when the benches were being cleared. Then Miami came to town the following week and the Gators held them to three points in a 26-3 win. The Gator defense dominated all year as they went on to win the BCS title.

Let's look at other years and see how the early season romps went on to predict the future. 2006, 34-7 over Southern Miss and 42-0 over UCF. Again the Gators rode the defense to a National Title. 2005 vs.Wyoming, the Gators win 32-14. Not exactly a demolition of a lesser team and again UF loses four games. In 2009, the Gators blow out Charleston Southern 62-3 and Troy 56-6 and go on to a 13-1 season.

So even though you want to see Florida make a road trip up to play Michigan in week 1 and then play Nebraska at home in week 2, you still can gain some insight with Miami of Ohio and South Florida. If the Gators can shut those teams down to 10 points or less, then expect big things in 2010. If not...

As long as there is no playoff system in college football's highest division, this is how teams will make up their schedules. Get it through your head. The Floridas of the world are not going to schedule themselves out of the BCS race in September. That would be suicidal.

Besides, many fans like these lopsided games because it is the only opportunity they have to get tickets. Season ticket holders are not going to give up their tickets to LSU or Tennessee. But they will let the Troy tickets go.

Not only that, but the Troys of the world really count on these games to help build their programs. If you take these kinds of games away from them, then they can't buy those new weights and pads and helmets. They can't hire a good strength coach. So just sit back and enjoy the low stress of the early season. There will be plenty of nail biters in the coming weeks. And remember, 10 points or less is good, over 10 is bad.