Toughest Games Away from The Swamp

An even year means the Florida schedule away from The Swamp will be a tough one. There are five games outside of Gainesville this fall, but there is only one the Gators should be comfortable about before kickoff.

5. Vanderbilt, November 6- Before last week, the Gators would have been heavy favorites in this game. After Vanderbilt head coach Bobby Johnson resigned last week, the situation for the Commodores now becomes more dire than before.

Florida has beaten Vanderbilt in 19 straight games. The home field advantage for the Commodores in 2010 will help them, but the talent level between the two teams isn't close enough to keep this game from being the easiest for the Gators away from The Swamp.

Running back Warren Norman accounted for 892 yards as a running back and wide receiver. He also averaged 26.2 yards per kickoff returned and took three back for touchdowns. Norman is a game changer, but unfortunately for the Commodores, there aren't many more players of his caliber on their sideline.

4. Tennessee, September 18- First-year head coach Derek Dooley has a tough responsibility this season. His Volunteers will field a team that breaks in five new starters on the offensive line. Behind that line will be a quarterback who has never taken a snap as a starter, likely Matt Sims. They also lost their top two running backs, as Montario Hardesty graduated and Bryce Brown decided to transfer.

Tennessee's best playmaker on defense departed for the NFL when the Kansas City Chiefs selected Eric Berry with the No. 5 overall pick. Dooley will need at least two seasons before he gets the Volunteers back to a competitive level.

However, Neyland Stadium will be full of energy when the Gators come to town. They will pack over 100,000 in simply thanks to the ferocity of the rivalry that the signals the beginning of SEC play. This game will also serve as Florida quarterback John Brantley's first trip on the road.

3. Florida State, November 27- By this late in the season, Brantley should be comfortable enough where nerves won't affect his play away from The Swamp. The Gators have beaten Florida State in six straight games, good for three straight wins at Doak Campbell Stadium.

Energy around the Florida State program has increased during the offseason with this fall being Jimbo Fisher's first season as head coach. The Seminoles return plenty of key pieces on offense, but it's the transition on defense that will determine the success of their season. New defensive coordinator Mark Stoops should improve that side of the ball.

The Florida State crowd will be amped up to ring in the Jimbo Fisher era with a win over the Gators.

2. Georgia, October 30- Jacksonville Municipal Stadium will once again be split down the middle with red and black packed in one side, while orange and blue on the other. Lately however, the orange and blue side has maintained most of the momentum, with the Gators have won 17 of the last 20 meetings.

This season will pose the biggest challenge for Florida since Georgia won in 2007. The Bulldogs break in a new quarterback, but they will do so behind an entire returning offensive line with the best wide receiver in college football split out wide.

The Georgia defense will switch to the 3-4 defense this season under new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. They have potential to be the sleeper in the SEC, but it will all come down to how quickly they pick up the new scheme.

1.Alabama, October 2- The atmosphere for this game will be electric. It will be one of, if not the most anticipated regular season game of the year. It hasn't been officially announced yet, but CBS is likely to pick this game up as a night game.

It will serve as Urban Meyer's first trip back to Tuscaloosa since the Crimson Tide waxed the Gators 31-3 in his first season. Bryant-Denny Stadium was expanded in the offseason, bumping the capacity to 101,000. Every seat will be occupied when the Gators come to town the first weekend in October.

Alabama and Florida will both feature revamped defenses, but the Crimson Tide return most key pieces on their offense, including Heisman Trophy winning running back Mark Ingram. Regardless of who wins the early October matchup, the teams could meet later in the season in Atlanta for the third straight season in the SEC Championship game.
Follow Cody Jones on

Fightin Gators Top Stories