The Florida Gators return to the gridiron for the rare Sunday contest after Hurricane Ian forced the delay.
Following a tight contest in Knoxville, Florida has the opportunity to name their score against an FCS opponent from the Big West Conference in Eastern Washington.
The Eagles enter the matchup 1-2 overall and lost 70-14 to Oregon in their only other game against FBS competition to date. EWU lost All-American QB Eric Barriere and nine other starters from a team that made the FCS playoffs a year ago. This is the program’s first contest against an SEC team.
The following are my three keys to a Gators victory and a prediction, as well.
1. Start strong. Obviously, this could be the lead point every week. Confidence is proving to be critical to Florida QB Anthony Richardson’s performance. Against Tennessee, #15 led the Gators on a 12-play drive that, unfortunately, ended in a turnover on downs, but certainly built confidence that Florida could move the ball on the Vols.
Furthermore, the defense forced a fumble on Tennessee’s first series clinching a solid start by both units.
2. Control the lines of scrimmage. It will be important for Florida to find room in the running game, offensively. In Florida’s two wins this season, they have averaged 7.3 and 7.2 yards per carry. In the losses, just 4.5 and 3.4 yards. If Florida can move the line of scrimmage with the run game in the early downs, it’ll open things up down field in the passing game.
Defensively, the front seven needs to limit the Eagles’ run game and force EWU to pass the ball. Florida has given up over 200 rushing yards to three of their four opponents, so far. That can’t happen Sunday if the Gators want to add to the win column.
3. Force turnovers. I know, this one seems so obvious. But you have a turnover prone offense from EWU that is flying across country, you have to force them into mistakes. The Eagles have turned the ball over five times in their first three games and Florida will need to add to that to pull out the win.
Prediction: Florida should be able to name their score against an FCS program that traveled nearly 3,000 miles. But, they should have been able to against South Florida as well.
Florida will be riding the confidence they gained at the end of the Tennessee game and put this one away early. Gators 47, EWU 13.