Photo by Chris Gardner | Getty Images

The Florida Gators will open their home slate with a contest against FCS Southland Conference foe McNeese State Saturday evening in the Swamp.

The Gators dropped a 24-11 decision at Utah to open the season as the team’s offense struggled to find a rhythm after being unable to establish a positive run game (to go along with several high impact penalties, as well).

The following are our staff’s predictions for Florida vs McNeese State:

Carson Euverard – Don’t freak out yet Gator fans (sometimes a rebuild has to look ugly before it gets pretty). This game won’t be a close one. Last week, McNeese State gave up 52 points in a loss to fellow FCS opponent Tarleton State. The Gators will establish their running game this week after a lackluster performance against Utah and Graham Mertz will throw for a few touchdowns. Billy Napier will have plenty of opportunity to get the backups in the game for this one. I hope to see limited personnel mistakes and penalties this weekend. Gators roll 56-10.

Alyssa Britton-Harr – I believe after the Florida Gators loss to Utah Thursday, and with time to reassess what went wrong, they will come out strong against McNeese. This will be McNeese’s third time playing an SEC team since their 0-2 record against LSU in 2010 and 2021. Napier expressed during his press conference this week that they need to run the ball more effectively as they had 3.1 yards on called runs, which is not good enough. The Gators have a young team, and now that the team has the first game under their belt, it can be promising that it will be a good game. My projected score for Florida is to win, 27-10. The penalties they received in the first game are now lessons learned for many new players, and from a coaching standpoint, Napier understands what the team needs from him for them to succeed Saturday.

Hugh Green – After Florida’s poor performance against Utah last Thursday, the Gators will be fired up to play a lesser opponent in McNeese State. The Florida players and coaching staff heard all the noise in the past week about their lackluster play in Salt Lake City, which will motivate them to take it to the Cowboys. One big area of the game that the Gators will improve upon is the running attack. Montrell Johnson and Trevor Etienne ran the ball a combined 10 times for 31 yards against the Utes. This is something that head coach Billy Napier will make a point of emphasis on Saturday. The Gator defense looked up to the task after Utah’s first play from scrimmage, allowing just 200 total yards after the 70-yard bomb. This defense will handle the McNeese State offensive attack. With all that being said, I believe Florida will breeze past the Cowboys. Florida, 38-10.

Brian Fox –  Despite the deficiencies of the offense last week, Florida is the prohibitive favorite in Saturday’s home opener. Florida is so much of a favorite that Vegas didn’t even offer a betting line. Even the ESPN Matchup Predictor gives the Gators a 98.8% chance to beat McNeese State. McNeese State did just allow 52 points and 554 yards of offense against Tarleton State. The Gators will use this game to gain confidence and momentum heading into the SEC opener against Tennessee next week. Florida, 55-14.

The Gators and Cowboys are scheduled to kickoff at 7:30 PM with the live broadcast airing nationally on ESPNU.

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