Florida's toughest games away from Gainesville in 2013:
1.LSU (October 12): The setting of this game makes the difference and puts it at the top of this list. The Gators have lost three of their last four trips to Baton Rouge and will face another tough test this year. With that atmosphere making this a tough game, the Tigers have plenty to replace. LSU has been strong on the defensive line in recent history but replaces six contributors from last season. The Tigers also have to replace linebacker Kevin Minter, cornerback Tharold Simon and safety Eric Reid.The success of the offense is squarely on the shoulders of quarterback Zach Mettenberger. If he can take the next step and have a successful season, the Tigers could have an impressive offense. If not, they'll struggle through the air. Sophomore running back Jeremy Hill is bound for a breakout season in the LSU backfield.
Miles has another strong team
2. Georgia (November 2): If this game were in Athens, it would be at the top of the list. The setting in Jacksonville keeps it from being a true road game since the stadium will be split, but it hasn't been friendly to Florida in recent years. Under Will Muschamp, the Gators have lost both games against Georgia.The Bulldogs are head into the fall with eight starters back on offense and just three on defense. With Aaron Murray under center and the two-headed running back duo of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall returning, the Bulldogs are set to post big numbers on offense. Malcolm Mitchell also returns outside to give Georgia a threat at wide receiver.
Murray will try to be the Gators for a third straight timeThe defense is where the issues will be. Sophomore Jordan Jenkins is the leading returner with five sacks last season, and he will be a force off the edge. The Bulldogs need Ray Drew to emerge as a pass rusher while Damian Swann and Josh Harvey-Clemons will need to improve in the secondary.
3. South Carolina (November 16): The Gamecocks have some positions to replace, but the new starters should be well entrenched by the time they face the Gators in the SEC finale. South Carolina still has Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson available at quarterback and former Florida commitment Mike Davis will take over at running back with the departure of Marcus Lattimore.The defense centers on Jadeveon Clowney, who enters the 2013 season with the most hype of any defensive player in recent history. The Gamecocks have plenty to replace at linebacker and lose the leadership of safety D.J. Swearinger. By the last conference game of the season, those holes should be ironed out for the Gamecocks.
Spurrier has another strong team this fall
4. Miami (September 7): The Gators will get a test much earlier in the 2013 season than previous ones when Florida heads south to take on the Hurricanes during the second week of the season. While Florida breaks in new bodies in the middle of the defense, it will face a challenge in a Miami offense that can put up big numbers. Sophomore running back Duke Johnson is set for a strong second season at Miami, while quarterback Stephen Morris returns to lead the offense.The defensive side of the ball is where the Hurricanes have struggled in recent years. Miami lost one starter from last year's defense, but it was one of the worst units in the ACC. If that happened because of youth, the Hurricanes should be better. If it was a talent issue, that's not good news in Coral Gables. Miami finished last in the ACC in rushing yards and passing yards allowed per game.
Morris can air it out
5. Missouri (October 19): One week after the game at LSU, the Gators will travel to Missouri to take on the second-year SEC program. The 2012 game was closer than expected, and the Tigers should pose a bigger challenge with a healthier team in 2013. Dual-threat quarterback James Franklin should be better in the passing game after fighting through an injured 2012.The Tigers will have depth in their secondary, led by star cornerback EJ Gaines. The issues come along the defensive line. Sheldon Richardson was a first-round pick last season and will be tough to replace at defensive tackle. Zaviar Gooden and Will Ebner led the linebacker position last year, but both are gone this season. The Gators have to take advantage of the running game in those one against an inexperienced front seven in Missouri, and Florida better be healthy to take advantage of it one week after facing LSU.
Franklin is ready for a healthy season
6. Kentucky (September 28): Mark Stoops has raised the excitement level around Kentucky football since leaving his defensive coordinator job at Florida State. The Wildcats have recruited much better since his hiring, but can the staff carry the added anticipation to the field? In their first season in Lexington -- doubtful. Season ticket sales are up this season for Kentucky, but that isn't enough to make it a difficult place to pay.The Wildcats have no set starter at quarterback, making it interesting to see how offensive coordinator Neal Brown can implement his high octane passing scheme. JUCO defensive end Za'Darius Smith gives Kentucky what is expected to be an added boost in the pass rush. Past that, the Wildcats don't have the talent level to match with the SEC elite. Stoops may turn out to be a perfect hire to make Kentucky relevant, but the deck is stacked against him in 2013.
Stoops is building for the long run in Lexington