What are the toughest games on the Florida Gators football schedule for 2016? Ranked from easiest to hardest, here are how important each of the Gators’ matchups are.
What’s Florida going to do this season? After coming through with a stunning SEC East title in Jim McElwain’s first year, the Gators have to deal with a tougher division and a few other big landmines along the way. What’s going to happen?
12. Nov. 19 Presbyterian
If you thought Florida struggled offensively last year. That’s nothing compared to how bad the Blue Hose were. They scored more than 14 points just twice and won’t be appreciably better – Florida can trot out the third-teamers.
11. Sept. 3 Massachusetts
The Minutemen will be little more than a light scrimmage to open up the Florida Gators’ football schedule in 2016. They’re rebuilding – that’s not a plus going into Gainesville against a team looking to make a statement right away.
10. Sept. 17 North Texas
It’ll take the bare minimum of effort to get by the Mean Green as the tune-up on the schedule before Tennessee.
9. Sept. 10 Kentucky
It’s Kentucky. Kentucky doesn’t beat Florida. Ever.
8. Oct. 1 at Vanderbilt
The Commodore defense at home should be nasty again, and now there’s a little more of an offense to go along with it. Can the Gators focus on the task at hand with LSU coming up next on their schedule? After coming so close to losing last year’s defensive battle, getting up for this shouldn’t be a problem.
7. Oct. 15 Missouri
The Mizzou defense should keep this close, but can the offense do much of anything against the Gator D? It’s the week after the LSU game for Florida. Depending on what happens, the effort will have to be there.
6. Nov. 12 South Carolina
This isn’t the best of teams on the Florida football schedule – Missouri is better – but it’s the return of Will Muschamp to The Swamp. He’ll get a polite welcome in Florida’s SEC finale.
5. Oct. 29 Georgia (in Jacksonville)
Georgia is more than good enough to win the East and even the SEC title if the backfield situation is settled. It will be by late October, but Florida gets a week off before the party.
4. Nov. 5 at Arkansas
This is a dangerous game no matter what, but it’s a brutal date on the road coming off the Georgia game. No one wants to get into tough physical battles in November, and that’s exactly what the Gators will get.
3. Nov. 26 at Florida State
Florida won’t be in the national title hunt, but Florida State could be if everything breaks the right way. The underdogs rarely turn into the spoiler in this series, but that’s what the Gators might have to be.
2. Sept. 24 at Tennessee
Tennessee hasn’t beaten Florida since 2004, and the atmosphere will be insane for the game the Vols must have. UT should have the best team in the SEC East coming into the season, but the division narrative changes in a hurry if the Gators pull this off.
1. Oct. 8 LSU
This, hands down, is the toughest game on the Florida Gators’ football schedule for 2016. LSU looks like the best team in college football coming into the season, but it’ll be tested before making the trip to Gainesville with showdowns against Wisconsin, Mississippi State, Auburn and Missouri. At the very least, the Tigers should be ranked in the top three if they’re 5-0 – Florida has a shot to make a massive midseason statement with a win.