It’s the dawn of a new era of Florida Gators football. Following a 6-7 season and the hiring of the program’s fourth head coach since 2010, expectations are low. VegasInsider.com has the over/under at seven wins for Florida this season. The following are my preseason game-by-game predictions.
9/3 Utah 28, Florida 24: The Utes will travel to Gainesville to open the 2022 season with much greater expectations than Florida. They enter as the No. 7 team in the nation but The Swamp will be alive as the game has sold out for Billy Napier’s debut. Still, Utah is the better and deeper team and should leave Gainesville with the win. Record: 0-1, 0-0 SEC
9/10 Florida 30, Kentucky 20: The hype surrounding this year’s Kentucky team is real. Even Gators great Chris Doering is buying in, predicting the Cats to go 11-1 and win the East. I just can’t see it. Will Levis is an average QB with serious mobility at best and it certainly doesn’t help UK that RB Chris Rodriguez is suspended. This could come back on me, but I think Florida comes in motivated after a positive showing against Utah. Record: 1-1, 1-0 SEC
9/17 Florida 49, South Florida 14: After a brutally physical open to the season, it’ll be nice to have a group of five opponent in week three. It’s especially nice since USF has struggled mightily under head coach Jeff Scott (3-18 overall) and figures to do the same in 2022. VegasInsider projects USF at 4.5 wins, one of those will not happen in The Swamp. Record 2-1, 1-0 SEC
9/24 Florida 35, Tennessee 31: Florida travels to Knoxville and will have to put up some points against Josh Huepel’s high powered offense. I expect a disciplined defensive approach and Florida’s offense to carry the momentum gained in the USF game. The Gators will have to control the clock and run the ball effectively to get the win. I also think UT drops a week two matchup with Pitt that takes some of the energy from the matchup. Record: 3-1, 2-0 SEC
*If the Gators somehow manage to be 3-1 at this point of the season, the fan base should be ecstatic. It’s a rigorous four game stretch against the nation’s No. 7, No. 20 (Kentucky), and No. 26 (Tennessee) ranked teams in the preseason AP Poll.
10/1 Florida 52, Eastern Washington 20: The Eagles are ranked No. 15 in a preseason FCS poll after finishing last year ranked No. 7. They are a quality team. However, Florida is a much more talented team and should run away with this one. Record: 4-1, 2-0 SEC
10/8 Florida 27, Missouri 17: Florida fired Dan Mullen the day after losing in Columbia last year. Unless Mizzou makes a surprising rise in the SEC East standings, head coach Eli Drinkwitz could be on the hot seat this time around. The Tigers’ defense was the second worst in the SEC a year ago and the offense has question marks at every position. Record: 5-1, 3-0 SEC
10/15 Florida 24, LSU 23: Two programs that are basically starting over meeting in The Swamp. This game could go either way, but I think Billy Napier is going to set the tone that the Gators don’t lose in Gainesville. If the team plays as disciplined as they’ve preached all pre-season, this is a very winnable game. Record: 6-1, 4-0 SEC
10/29 Georgia 37, Florida 23: The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party will see both teams head to Jacksonville ranked (if these predictions hold true). Unfortunately, the Bulldogs are just so much more talented and deep. That’s the difference in recruiting in the top three and in the top fifteen. That’s what Billy Napier was brought in to fix. It’ll be on display at TIAA Bank Field. Record: 6-2, 4-1 SEC
11/5 Texas A&M 27, Florida 20: The Aggies enter 2022 with serious expectations. They open the season No. 6 in the AP Poll and return a ton of experienced players, especially on offense. Additionally, they have recruited at a high level since the arrival of Jimbo Fisher including the No. 1 class in 2022. A&M was No. 14 in the nation in scoring defense. Florida will also be playing at Kyle Field for the second time in three years. Record: 6-3, 4-2 SEC
11/12 Florida 31, South Carolina 17: In predicting this game in Florida’s favor, I’m trusting two things. I believe in Billy Napier not allowing the wheels to fall off the bus despite being out of the SEC East race. I also believe that he is setting the tone for dominance in The Swamp. USC is building a talented roster under Shane Beamer, but they aren’t there just yet. Record: 7-3, 5-2 SEC
11/19 Florida 45, Vanderbilt 13: With all the conference realignment set to occur over the next few years, why is Vanderbilt still in the SEC? The administration at Vandy doesn’t care about athletics and it shows in their results on the field. Regardless, this will still be a very bad football team (despite their 63-10 win over Hawaii on Saturday) and Florida will cruise to victory, in front of a mostly orange and blue crowd in Nashville. Record: 8-3, 6-2 SEC
11/25 Florida 35, Florida State 24: The Noles will be better than they have been the last half-decade. I mean, how can it get much worse? Despite Florida’s struggles recruiting the last few cycles, Florida State has fallen on even harder times. The Gators are more talented and should pull out the win at Doak. Record 9-3, 6-2 SEC