2009 Gator Opponents: For Better Or Worse

When the Gators are annually ranked so high Gator fans typically worry ahead about the team's opponents. Here is a team-by-team look at the Gators' opponents and how they faired this week. We will give our assessment of their play related to how we think they should have done. With eight games left on the schedule, here is our take on how the 11 Gators' 11 Bowl Subdivision opponents fared.

We won't include Charleston Southern as they will not count mathematically in the equation for the BCS standings moving forward.

Troy (2-2)
Last Game: Won at Arkansas State
Report: Despite winning both games since their loss at Florida, Troy continues to look less impressive almost every week, squeaking by opponents they should be blowing out.
Next Game: Middle Tennessee State at Troy
Is the Perception Better or Worse?: Slightly Worse (than a week ago)

Tennessee (2-2)
Last Game: Won 34-23 in Knoxville over Ohio University.
Report: Completely out manning the Bobcats, Tennessee's heralded coaching staff struggled a week after supposedly out thinking the Gators. Tennessee allowed 310 yards through the air against the Bobcats. Montario Hardesty played with a shoulder injury and accounted for 140 rushing yards on 20 carries. They will wear Hardesty down at this rate. The Vols won by 11 even with an interception returned for a touchdown that spotted their offense 7 points in the third quarter.
Next Game: This weekend at Auburn
Is the Perception Better or Worse?: Slightly Worse (than a week ago)

Kentucky (2-1)
Last Game: Lost 41-7 to Florida
Report: Kentucky was about as bad as it gets for a quarter against the Gators before finally being able to slow down the Gators. No doubt the Gators somewhat put the brakes on after jumping out to a 31-0 lead.
Next Game: Home vs. Alabama
Is the Perception Better or Worse?: Worse (than a week ago)

LSU (4-0)
Last Game: Won 30-26 at Mississippi State
Report: The weather made it an ugly game in the beginning and LSU capitalized with an early interception for a touchdown. The Tigers also scored on a kick off return in the fourth quarter and needed a goal line stand to hold off Mississippi State and win the game. The Tigers had just 263 yards of offense compared to MSU's 374. they snuck out of Starkville with a win.
Next Game: Georgia in Athens
Is the Perception Better or Worse?: Slightly Worse (than a week ago)

Arkansas (1-2)
Last Game: Lost 35-7 in Tuscaloosa
Report: Alabama suffocated Arkansas high octane offense on the day and the Razorbacks could never get untracked. The Arkansas defense held out for a while in the first half before coming unraveled at the end of the half and the game finally got out of hand.
Next Game: at home against Texas A&M
Is the Perception Better or Worse?: Worse (than a week ago)

Mississippi State (2-2)
Last Game: Lost in Starkville to LSU 30-26
Report: Give Dan Mullen and his boys credit, they came into the game ready to play. If not for the sloppy conditions to start the game the Bulldogs may have pulled off the upset. MSU out rushed LSU 151 yards to 30 on the day. If not for having to catch up due to giving up touchdowns in the kicking game and via interception, MSU may have been able to bleed the Tigers through the running game all day.
Next Game: Georgia Tech at home.
Is the Perception Better or Worse?: Better (than a week ago)

Georgia (3-1)
Last Game: Won 20-16 in Athens over Arizona State
Report: Georgia has decided to rely on quarterback Joe Cox more than many folks would have thought. The Bulldogs couldn't cross the 100 yard rushing barrier against a pretty good ASU defense, and averaged just 3.0 yards per carry on the day.
Is the Perception Better or Worse?: Slightly Worse (than a week ago)

Vanderbilt (2-2)
Last Game: Won 36-17 at Rice
Report: Vandy over matched the owls and had a pretty good offensive performance with 484 yards. Commodore running back Warren Norman was the star of the show rushing for 118 yards rushing and a touchdown.
Next Game: at home against Ole Miss
Is the Perception Better or Worse?: About the same (than a week ago)

South Carolina (3-1)
Last Game: Won 16-10 at home over Ole Miss
Report: I wasn't surprised and picked South Carolina to win the game. The Gamecocks have a good team when they play smart in all phases. This was the first game they played up to their capabilities on offense,, defense, and special teams combined. The Gamecock defense can be stifling and held all-star quarterback Jevan Snead to 8 of 22 passing and 109 yards. South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia threw for 220 but more importantly didn't turn the ball over in the game.
Next Game: at home against South Carolina State
Is the Perception Better or Worse?: Slightly Better (than a week ago)

FIU (0-3)
Last Game: Lost 41-31 at home to Toledo
Report: The Golden Panther defense is giving up 34 points a game. That tells the whole story of a team that has put up some decent offensive numbers when not playing Alabama.
Next Game: at Louisiana Munroe
Is the Perception Better or Worse?: About the Same (than a week ago)

Florida State (2-2)
Last Game: Lost 17-7 to USF in Tallahassee
Report: How does a program like FSU lose to an in-state program (are they really a rival?) that is led by a Tallahassee born true freshman quarterback in his first start ever? Well this version of the Noles is capable of almost any dastardly deed it seems. Three stats stand out in the game, four big fumbles, 15 yards rushing by the Seminoles, and USF QB B.J. Daniels that had 341 yards of total offense.
Next Game: at Boston College
Is the Perception Better or Worse?: Worse (than a week ago)

Round Up: Looking at the big picture of the remaining schedule it appears all but to teams on the Gators' schedule looked worse last weekend than was anticipated. The Gamecocks of South Carolina seem to be headed in the right direction and I can now place them over FSU, who has really struggled most of this season so far and now will drop into that second tier of opponents on the schedule.

The Gators top three opponents on the schedule now seem to be LSU, Georgia, and South Carolina. The first two square off this weekend and so we should be able to get a gage of just what they are about. Both have played down to their competition so far, or so it seems. The gamecocks look to be doing the small things better and are efficient quarterback play from overtaking the other two.

Arkansas has taken a huge hit in the last two weeks and has a tough game against Texas A&M this weekend. Mississippi State is the team that could take a jump into the top group and I believe Dan Mullen has them playing better than most anticipated.

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