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 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: Bye week
Report: N/A
Next Game: Tuesday Night against MTSU at home
Is the Perception Better or Worse?: N/A (than a week ago)

Tennessee (2-3)
Last Game: Lost 26-22 in Knoxville to Auburn.
Report: Auburn is a decent team and certainly has shown more than Tennessee, but the Vols vaunted defense gave up 459 yards in the contest and struggled throughout. Tennessee did show some life on offense and in the passing game. I think they played about what i expected.
Next Game: This weekend vs. Georgia in Knoxville
Is the Perception Better or Worse?: About the Same (than a week ago)

Kentucky (2-2)
Last Game: Lost 38-20 at home vs. Alabama.
Report: Kentucky came in bruised up from the Gator game and played okay despite playing a very good Bama team. Bama was too much for them despite Kentucky holding Bama to 358 yards. UK gave up four turnovers to none for the Tide and that is a huge disparity to overcome.
Next Game: This weekend at South Carolina.
Is the Perception Better or Worse?: Slightly Better(than a week ago)

LSU (5-0)
Last Game: Won 20-13 at Georgia.
Report: Offensively it was a struggle for three quarters before coming unwound and the Tigers pulled off the victory. Before Charles Scott rambled 33 yards for a touchdown on the last offensive play, LSU was averaging 2.8 yards a carry on 44 carries. They have struggled to run all year. Defensively the Tigers looked good holding UGA to 274 yards total offense and 45 yards of rushing.
Next Game: Florida at home.
Is the Perception Better or Worse?: About the Same (than a week ago)

Arkansas (2-2)
Last Game: Won 47-19 over Texas A&M on a neutral field in Arlington (TX).
Report: Arkansas appears to be a team that is going to be hit and miss on offense as Ryan Mallet matures into his role there. They were firing on all cylinders after the first series and went from a 0-10 deficit to a 30-10 halftime lead. One struggle for this team will be the defense that gave up 458 yards to Texas A&M.
Next Game: This week vs. Auburn at home.
Is the Perception Better or Worse?: Better (than a week ago)

Mississippi State (2-3)
Last Game: Lost 42-31 in Starkville to Georgia Tech.
Report: Five turnovers (one returned for a touchdown) for the Bulldogs and none for Tech proved to be too much to overcome as the MSU offense rolled up 487 yards and a struggling defense gave up 476. It is another game Mississippi State had as much chance of winning if they could play even or better in the turnover game. The defense is starting to worry Bulldog fans.
Next Game: This weekend vs. Houston at home.
Is the Perception Better or Worse?: Better (than a week ago)

Georgia (3-2)
Last Game: Lost 20-13 in Athens to LSU.
Report: The offense struggled mightily while the defense held LSU's not so great offense to just six points heading into the fourth quarter. Georgia had just 45 rushing yards in the game and can't get anything out of their group of supposed thoroughbreds at tailback. The UGA defense had several sacks on LSU's Jordan Jefferson and seemed to attack all day. UGA fans can't be happy with the way they played, even to the fourth ranked team in the country.
Is the Perception Better or Worse?: About the Same (than a week ago)

Vanderbilt (2-2)
Last Game: Lost 23-7 in Nashville to Ole Miss.
Report: Vandy quarterback Larry Smith went 10-27 for just 69 yards in the game and a very veteran but struggling Commodore team couldn't keep up with Ole Miss despite forcing three interceptions from Rebel quarterback Jevan Snead. Ole Miss used a balanced offensive attack running for 160 yards and passing for 237 and still had three touchdowns passing the ball despite the interceptions.
Next Game: This weekend at Army
Is the Perception Better or Worse?: Slightly Worse (than a week ago)

South Carolina (4-1)
Last Game: Won 38-14 at home over South Carolina State.
Report: Stephen Garcia was efficient going 13-of-19 for 132 yards and two touchdowns. Spurrier is learning to rely on a solid running game that gave them 213 yards on the night as well. If their special teams didn't go south in the UGA game, the Gamecocks could be 5-0 right now.
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 48-35 at Louisiana Munroe.
Report: The Golden Panther defense terrible. They continue to get chewed up by everybody they face. They gave up 577 total yards and 304 rushing yards in the game. Florida could put up 500 rushing yards.
Next Game: at Western Kentucky this weekend.
Is the Perception Better or Worse?: About the Same (than a week ago)

Florida State (2-3)
Last Game: Lost 28-21 at Boston College.
Report: This game wasn't as close as the score even though the game was tied late. Boston College let them off the hook big time after getting up 21-3 late in the second quarter. Everyone wants to put the blame on the defense and the defensive coaching that looks to be gone some time in the near future, but again the Noles had paltry rushing stats and finished with just 60 yards for the game. That is not going to get you a win against anyone. Meanwhile the defense does give up 196 rushing yards on the day.
Next Game: This weekend vs. Georgia Tech in Tallahassee.
Is the Perception Better or Worse?: Slightly Worse (than a week ago)

Round Up: The Gators appear to be facing their most formidable foe on the schedule this week at LSU. If I had to rate them now, there are four teams in the top tier of schedule strength the Gators face and those four in order are LSU, South Carolina, Georgia, and Arkansas. The Gators will face all four in the next six weeks.

LSU is undefeated and South Carolina should be. The Gamecocks seem to be the most well rounded team with an offense that seems to be getting better. LSU seems to struggle rushing the ball, a staple of theirs for many years.

Arkansas is sneaky in that their offense is capable of putting up huge numbers on anyone, but their defense regularly gives up huge numbers. Georgia has talent and seems to play down to the level of game they are playing at the time.

Florida State has gone from one of the top three teams on the schedule to start the season, to probably below the Mendoza line.

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