Everybody do the chomp.
After finishing the 2010 campaign with a classic win over Penn State in the bowl game, the Florida Gators found that the disappointing season (at least in Gator eyes) could still have its shining moments.
With a new coach, more stellar recruits and a potential new look, Florida's expectations remain solidly high—high enough to be in the BCS championship game discussion come next January.
But will the schedule cooperate?
The 2011 slate features the usual difficult SEC schedule, including defending national champ Auburn.
Here's a game-by-game look at what lies ahead for your Florida Gators.
He's done it before and can do it again.
When: September 3
2010 Record: 4-8
Noteworthy: Howard Schnellenberger continues to build the FAU program, but with the emergence of FIU, South Florida and Central Florida, plus the traditional state powers, the Owls are finding it difficult to land the quality recruits needed to compete at a high level year after year. Florida beat the Owls by almost 40 points four years ago.
The Blazers always reach for inspiration wherever they can find it.
When: September 10
2010 Record: 4-8
Noteworthy: Another opponent for the Gators that finished near the bottom of its conference. Like FAU, UAB is failing to compete for quality recruits (finishing near the bottom of all D-I schools in recruiting in 2011) and watching other programs (like in-state Troy) of a similar stature pass them by.
Dooley has his charges ready.
When: September 17
2010 Record: 6-7, including a close loss in the Music City Bowl to North Carolina
Noteworthy: Florida's 14-point win last year came when things were going right for the Gators and wrong for UT. A rubber match near season's end might have had a different outcome. Tennessee's freshman QB, Tyler Bray, came on midseason and is the leader of the future for the Vols. The Third Saturday in September finds the Gators with a 21-19 edge in the series going into 2011.
We think he can coach--no joke.
When: September 24
2010 Record: 6-7, including a loss to Pittsburgh in the BBVA Compass Bowl
Noteworthy: The Gators handed Joker Phillips his first loss as head coach last year. This offseason saw UK's offense decimated by graduation and the jump to the NFL by all-everything Randall Cobb.Sure, the Wildcats do return 10 starters on defense, but it might not be enough.
Is he better than Ingram? Perhaps.
When: October 1
2010 Record: 10-3, including a shellacking of Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl
Noteworthy: It was 'Bama's win over Gators last year when the wheels came off the Florida juggernaut. But the Tide has lost several key players, including Heisman winner Mark Ingram, WR Julio Jones, DL Marcell Dareus and superior game manager Greg McElroy. Of course, Nick Saban's reloaded the Tide with super prep talent.
Florida looks to end a two-game slide against Alabama in the first game of 2011 against an opponent with a winning mark from the previous season.
We hate The Hat, but he wins. Dadgummit!
When: October 8
Where: Baton Rouge
2010 Record: 11-2, including a win over Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl
Noteworthy: Les Miles continues to pull rabbits out of The Hat. His Tigers squeaked by the Gators last year in Gainesville. Baton Rouge is one of the toughest venues in America, but Florida leads the series 30-24-3. Many early prognosticators have tabbed LSU to represent the West in the 2011 SEC title game, and Miles has the athletes to make it happen.
Remember when those trophies were surrounding Florida's coach?
When: October 15
2010 Record: 14-0, including win in BCS championship game against Oregon
Noteworthy: This will not be the Auburn team we saw this past year. On the other hand, Gene Chizik and company have recruited a stellar class to the plains, and Florida will be tired the week before the bye. This one might be closer than it will look on paper.
RIP Uga 8.
When: October 29
Where: Jacksonville, FL
2010 Record: 6-7, including a humiliating loss to UCF in the Liberty Bowl
Noteworthy: UGA leads the series by six games. The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party may be a make or break game for Bulldog coach Mark Richt, who is wearing on the patience of the Georgia faithful, given that the team has had great recruiting years with little to show for it.
However, the Bulldogs may have the best young passer in the SEC in Aaron Murray despite losing his best target, A.J. Green. Should be a barnburner in J'ville.
Another Commodore goes down with the ship.
When: November 5
2010 Record: 2-10
Noteworthy: Vandy will continue to be Vandy. The Gators have won 19 in a row against the 'Dores, and nothing coming out of Nashville makes us think this will change any time soon. So inept were the Commodores last season that it was amazing they won two games at all (sorry, Ole Miss).
The 2011 recruiting class for Vanderbilt brought them in last in the SEC and way down the list nationally. The offense put up only 26 touchdowns all season in 2010. New coaches won't help here.
We know this face well; it's probably hidden under several darts, though.
When: November 12
Where: Columbia, SC
2010 Record: 9-5, including a loss to Florida State in the Chick-fil-A Bowl
Noteworthy: Gators hold a 23-5-3 edge in the series. Last year, a Gamecock win propelled them into the SEC title game. Florida will seek revenge in front of the 'Cocks home crowd.
Unfortunately, USC returns almost its entire offensive weaponry. The Ol' Ball Coach finally found a RB in Marcus Lattimore and may have the best returning WR in Alshon Jeffery. Stephen Garcia should retain the starting QB job unless he makes Steve Spurrier mad by missing a read.
When: November 19
2010 Record: 5-6
Noteworthy: This is the team that played South Carolina close in a 38-19 loss last year. A perennial power in the playoff subdivision, Furman won't challenge the Gators, but the game will provide a much-needed resting of the starters before the FSU game the following week.
It'll be the first meeting of the two programs since 1990, when the 19th-ranked Gators recorded a 27-3 victory over the Paladins, ranked No. 1 in Div. I-AA at the time.
We hate these guys.
When: November 26
2010 Record: 10-4, including a win over South Carolina in the Chick-fil-A Bowl
Noteworthy: Last year's Seminole win snapped a six-year Gator streak. FSU recorded one of the best, if not the top recruiting class in 2011 and is a program on the rise under second-year head coach Jimbo Fisher.
The 'Noles played one of the nation's toughest schedules last season. The 2011 early matchup against Oklahoma has some saying the winner will be in the driver's seat for a BCS title game berth.
Now, we like this.
When: December 3
Noteworthy: Until 2010, the Gators had represented the East in three of the past four SEC title games. The winner of the SEC championship has gone on to win the BCS championship the past five years and six times in the last eight years.